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Cool Jobs: Inspiring Future Scientists

A NASA scientist prints 3D homes on Mars. An anthropologist solves mummy mysteries. An engineer tests new toys every day. What do these people have in common? A science job! Meet them all (and more) during this interactive event that gives everyone the chance to try each cool job for themselves.

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BOB PFLUGFELDER, PRESENTER: Hi guys.  How’s it going?   Nice to see you all. I got to tell you. I’ve been here since 9 am. As you may notice, there are no windows in here. So in my mind, I’m just assuming it’s a beautiful day out there. Is this, is this pretty much right? Good, good thanks. So welcome to Cool Jobs. If you’ve never been here before, it’s a really, really interesting session. It’s a time where we show you occupations that you might not have thought of that use the tools and methods of science to solve a problem, or perhaps unravel a mystery.  World is full of mysteries, guys.  For example, what is the origin of black holes? Why did the dinosaurs go extinct? How do tornadoes form and appear and disappear?  Why do we drive in- why do we park in driveways and drive on parkways? Have you thought about this? These are the things that keep scientists up at night. So we’re going to show you some really kind of interesting jobs and hopefully, the idea is, especially if you’re one of our younger members of the audience, that you think, “Hmm. Wow, I kind of like science, but I hadn’t considered that as a possible future job.” And so hopefully it will inspire you to look a little further and open up the possibilities for you in the world of science.  And our very first presenter today is all about unraveling mysteries. In fact, she unravels mysteries for detectives using science. So please welcome our very first presenter, Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Raychelle Burks

RAYCHELLE BURKS, CHEMIST: Hello everybody.  I have a confession. I am a giant nerd.

(from the audience: “I love nerds”)

BURKS: That’s good. I’ve been a nerd my whole life. I’m the only nerd in my family, in fact. Everybody else my family is much, much cooler, sporty, and coordinated. And I am also a big reader.  When I was little, my parents got an encyclopedia kit, for home, and I read the entire thing from, of course, in order, because if you don’t read them in order that’s just wacky. And I was such a big reader that I actually won a bookworm award that I’m very, very proud of. I still have it. (applause) Thank you. Thank you. And my second confession of the day would be that I have a really wacky obsession, not chocolate, although that is delicious. When I was a little kid, so about your age, I was obsessed with rules and with the law. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t keep my room as dirty as I wanted, like who made that arbitrary rule? Why I couldn’t cross the street wherever I wanted. So I used to go to the library on Saturdays and read law books and write up little legal briefs. And my parents would actually read them. So thank you mom and dad. And so, of course with my love of reading, and my love of laws and rules, what do you think I wanted to be when I grew up?  (from audience – a lawyer)   A lawyer. I was convinced I was going to be a lawyer.  Had my little lawyer briefcase and I would go to school and I was going to be a lawyer. And then in my eighth grade year, my school went on a trip to Washington D.C. So you can imagine as a kid who wanted to be a lawyer, this is like the trip of a lifetime. It all went horribly wrong.  And it went horribly wrong, because I got to meet some FBI scientists. And then everything changed. Up until that point, I never wanted to be a scientist. I didn’t find scientists- scientists or science remotely interesting and maybe, maybe that’s because I never saw any scientists that looked like me. Maybe that’s because to me, science was literally out of this world. I did not see how science was useful or practical. It just, I didn’t connect with it. But when I was in D.C. in eighth grade year, I got to meet with these FBI folks and my whole class did. And they were using science in a really applied, practical way. They were solving crimes. They were freeing people that had been wrongly convicted. They were convicting bad people.  It seemed really useful and practical. And I saw people that look like me doing really cool stuff. And ever since then, I switched from an obsession with rules to an obsession with forensic science, which I had never heard of before I went on this trip. So totally changed everything that I was doing. And I got- started gobbling that up and I started gobbling up information about chemistry.  So I went on to college and I got a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, a Master in Forensic Science, a PhD in Chemistry.  In fact, here’s a picture of me and my dad.

[00:05:01] BURKS: You know when you get a PhD in chemistry, they give you a cape, actually. It’s really cool. They call it a hood, but we all know it’s actually a cape. So there’s me and my dad and I worked in a crime lab for a while and now I am a chemistry professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin Texas. Go Goats. And what do I do now?  Well, I get to teach great young minds, but I also get to help make methods and techniques to discover what chemicals are at crime scenes.  When you’re at a crime scene, you have a lot of unknown stuff. You just- what is this red thing? What is that white thing? You have no idea what it is. So I actually work on systems to help discover what these mystery chemicals are and- hey!  What are you doing? Oh great. So this New York crime problem is really out of control. So we were going to actually have a little bit of fun, little cookie monster action.  We were going to bake some cookies, but unfortunately now, you know, what do you need to bake cookies? We need a lot of stuff but you need sugar, you need just a pinch of salt,  just a little bit, and you need some baking soda. And so unfortunately now, we have three mysterious white substances in three jars and there were labels on them, but she moved them around. Does anyone remember which one went which? Because I actually don’t.  I- I don’t quite remember. But we need to be sure, right? Have you ever- do you want to add a cup of salt to chocolate chip cookies? No. You want to add maybe a quarter of a teaspoon, and then add a cup of sugar. So we’re going to need to get to the bottom of this mystery. And for that, we’re going to use just a little bit of chemistry. Because what I love about chemistry is, if you just know a little bit, you don’t need to know everything, and you don’t need to memorize the periodic table.  We put it on a table for a reason. If you just know a little bit about chemistry, you can solve a huge number of mysteries.  So I just need a couple of volunteers.  Are these my assistant sleuths? Awesome. I’m going to have you walk.  Can you walk straight towards me? And then we better be super safe. We got awesome, awesome gear. And now we put those on. And you’re going to follow me right around here. [00:10:20] assign each one of you a mystery jar.  Can you, can you have this one?  Can you be in control of that one? I’m going to give you this one. Can you be in control of this one?  And I’m going to give you this one.

Now audience, if this had happened to you at home, a thief broke into your home and stole all of your food labels, which would be bizarre. How would you figure out which one salt, sugar?   Taste it!   Who said who would vote for tasting?  OK. First rule of chemistry club is we don’t ever taste anything. Because a lot of things, a lot of bad things, are actually very similar in appearance and if you taste them, no. That’s not good. We won’t get into why, but it’s not good. What would be another thing you’d want to do? Feel it?  Again another rule of chemistry club. We don’t want to touch it, because it could be bad for us, right? Ooh. That is- we’re going to test it because we don’t want to smell it either. I heard- I heard someone say smell.  We don’t want to smell it, because you could inhale it and also not good.   Right? If it’s dangerous, it’s not good. So you have got- this is a future chemist right here. I’m dubbing her- keeping her ready for our field. We’re going to test it and you guys are going to help me do that. So what I need you to do. I’m going to give you your scientific implements. And can you put one spoonful of your mystery stuff in a jar for me, please? Perfect. I love this guy. He’s like I’m measuring this, whatever. But you did touch it. So. That’s OK. That’s OK. We’re going to let it slide this time. Can I have this one. Awesome. Awesome. Now, you guys look like you are like fun scientists at home so you’ve probably done this. This is just vinegar. OK. So we’re going to start adding it to everything. Because why?  If one of these is baking soda what’s going to happen? Boom!  Right?

That’s pretty boring. OK. Not fun chemistry so far. Also boring. Not going to lie. Ah ha!! All right so we’ve got a third of our mystery solved. You have the baking soda. Now you two though, we’ve got to do a little bit more work. Are you up for it. OK. So here’s what I’m going to need you to do. I need another spoonful. One in each. All right. Can I have those? Awesome. Thank you very much. Now, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to add a little bit of water.

[00:10:20] BURKS: So I’m going to make- well I don’t know, I’m going to make- one of these is going to be saltwater and one of them is going to be sugar water. Also known as Kool-Aid when I was little. And I’m going to put it on a hot plate. And let’s step back over here because we want to be super safe with the science right?   So here’s what I know is going to happen. Salt and sugar are both molecules, but their atoms are attached very differently and they have very different properties.  And salt water- we have a lot of salt water on the earth, right you guys?  Like it’s everywhere. Now, sometimes when you want to actually drink salt water you got to get like the salt out of it. So how do we do that? Well it’s easy.  Salt has a really, really high melting point really high boiling point. Water is really low in comparison. So we can boil off the water, we captured it as steam, and all that’s left behind is big piles of solid salt. It works great. Now what happens when we boil sugar water?  Well sugar is a very different molecule. It actually can burn and melt at a fairly low temperature. Have you guys ever eaten burnt sugar? How about caramel?  You’ve never had caramel? Caramel like the sauce or caramel ice cream or- anyone have caramel?  Caramel is burnt sugar. Sugar itself, another reason why smelling wouldn’t have work is, sugar doesn’t really have a scent actually. But when you burn sugar, don’t you smell if you ever made caramel and you smell that delicious smell and it starts to turn golden brown it’s- everything is just wonderful? Well when it starts to break down, it makes compounds that are stinky and stinky in a good way. So I’m going,  you guys stay here.   I’m gonna walk over here. Now. I don’t know if you can see this you guys but how this one is really clear, right? It looks pretty clear but this one still looks pretty white. Like lots of, kind of, milky almost. Well I kind of think that this one is the salt.

Even though we know that salt is soluble in water. Once all of the water starts to evaporate, the salt stays behind. And so to us it’s going to look really kind of cloudy and weird. But this one is not cloudy at all. In fact, to me it looks like it’s getting a bit thicker. Like, have you guys ever had pancake syrup?  Pancake syrup,  maple syrup so it kind of another sugary watery substance. And so if you guys would walk way back here, because we want to be super safe, and you get a better look at those two containers, right?  How one of them is really, really white. You see all that white stuff on the side? That is actually salt. So I’m ready to call the mystery-now the other thing is, you see how the other container. It’s starting to go like a pale yellow. It’s going to take a couple more minutes. But what’s going to happen is, it is going to turn brown, that nice color of caramel. And so I’m ready to call this mystery. That we already know that you had the baking soda, right? OK.  And I’m ready to call it right now as this one’s going to be the one that had salt. And this one. Ooh. I know this one’s the one that has caramel, because if you are sitting or standing pretty close by you’re going to start to get that delicious caramel smell. And so again, with just household chemicals and a little bit of testing, we were able to solve this mystery. Thank you guys so much. And I’ll take these. Thank you guys. Very, very much. The reason why I love chemistry, is because it doesn’t take that much information to sort out the mystery, to figure out what’s going on. And I’m going to actually turn this down. But I’m going to let it actually sit so you can see that brown color develop of it. The reason why I love chemistry and I love my job, is that a little bit of knowledge about chemical and physical properties can help us actually solve big problems and it can also help us prevent crime. And that’s another thing. So the other thing I work on is systems actually detect things and to prevent things from happening. And chemistry allows us to do that. We can figure out all kinds of stuff by just doing some testing and experimentation. Now, we can do crimes, but if you apply the same type of thinking, you can get to the bottom of another type of mystery. So anybody here a Star Wars fan?   Hey. Hey. Now, I’m old, so I remember seeing Empire Strikes Back in the theater but I’m not so old where I saw Star Wars. But every- does everyone remember or has seen recently the Death Star?  Starbase Killer is the new version, right? The Force Awakens. So we have the Death Star. How does Death Star work? It supposedly is a laser based weapon. So it has eight laser beams and they’re all going to converge at a point and make one big super laser beam and it does what?  Destroys planets right?  Ships.   Blows stuff up, you know, that’s the fun part of chemistry too. Chemistry, we have fire and we have explosions, right?   So that’s going to be the fun part, right?  Now, as a scientist, and as someone who tries to unravel mysteries and get to the bottom of things, I look at this and I go, I don’t think that it could work.

[00:15:44] BURKS: And I don’t think it could work, for the simple fact of I don’t think lasers work that way, but we need to test it right. We need to get to the bottom of it. So I’m going to need three more people who want to help me test out if the Death Star would work. So come on up. Gonna have you stop right here. OK, can you guys go like maybe right here?  Oh so perfect, look at this shirt. I love it to death. OK. So I’m going to give you guys each part of the Death Star, OK? And you’re gonna need to fire it for me. Can you do that? And by, oh by the way, do you see the caramel? Looks great. So part of the Death Star. And by part of the Death Star I mean a laser pointer. I’m going to give you that.  Now please, for safety, don’t point at anyone’s face. Just-yeah, you can point it up here and maybe at your cat later, they seem to love it. OK I’ll give you one of these. OK.  Give you one of these. Now let’s do a test. You see that skull up there? Now that’s not a real person, so you can point it at them. So it’ll be OK. Everybody try to aim your beam at the eye socket, the right eye socket if you can. So we need to, I see it on the black curtain.  Let’s lower it down maybe right, we want to get right here. I’ll have you point yours, see how yours is right over here. Let’s drop it down. OK so as I see three dots, right? Now everybody’s pointing at the same point. Do you think we’re going to see one beam or three?  One? OK let’s let’s- let’s see if that’s true. I see two. I see three. What I don’t see, is one Super Death Beam. Even here, I don’t see one Super Death Beam. So with a simple bit of, thank you guys for helping me make the- the Death Star on stage. I appreciate that.  Can I have that. Don’t worry. We’ll get you one later. Thank you guys. Same thing. Resume. Thank you guys. I appreciate it. That simple bit of technology and a little bit of science know how. And you can get to the bottom of a mystery, whether it’s fictional, like could they make a death star, or whether it’s real life, or practical, like what is that chemical at a crime scene. And the fact that you can actually just know a little bit of information and solve a world of mysteries, is why I think being a chemist is a cool job. Thank you guys.

PFLUGFELDER: All right, I want you to imagine this. You know we’re thinking of going to Mars. You’re familiar with this? Yeah. So we’re thinking of going to Mars. And imagine- you know when you go on vacation and then you get to vacation and then you realize like, oh we left something, we left the sunscreen back home. And then you got to go to Walmart pick up some new sunscreen. So imagine going to Mars, you go to set up your new habitat and you realize you left the ranch back home. Well now you’ve got a nine month journey back and that’s not going to work. And there are no Walmarts on Mars. We hear there might be Starbucks, but there are no Walmarts on Mars. So what do you do? Well then you call NASA systems engineer. And NASA systems engineers, boy they are some really, really great problem solvers. And it turns out,, we have one here today. So for our next guest, please welcome NASA systems engineer Erick Ordoñez.

ORDONEZ, SYSTEMS ENGINEER: Wow, how you all doing? Lots of beautiful people. So, my name’s Erick Ordoñez. I’m from Huntsville Alabama at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Real quick, let me start something. All right while that gets going, I want to ask everyone a question real quick. Who here knows who a systems engineer is? You know one. OK, What’s a system engineer? (child giving response)

[00:20:10] ORDONEZ: All right all right that’s a good shot, good answer. What about engineer? So, knows what an engineer is? Yeah-an engineer-don’t feel bad guys. I didn’t know what an engineer was until a month before graduating high school. And I graduated with two engineering degrees from university. So, it’s ok. I grew up in a town called Madison Alabama, outside of Huntsville. I have a brother, a mother, my mom’s a single parent. Where I grew up, I was the only Hispanic kid in my school and I was your typical kid. Football, baseball, basketball, track. I was captain of all these teams in high school. Never thought about science. So my senior year in high school, I’m in an environmental science class. And with environmental science, that’s the class everyone takes because, you know what, that’s easy A class. So you want to get that GPA higher, you like, environmental science, I’m there. So going to class, there’s 70 of us in this class. And so they’re trying to downgrade the size. And here comes the Chemistry II teacher, Miss Pickens. And I love her to death. She looks at me and says, “You come with me.” I’m like, “Really?” Out of 70 people here you’re going to pick me? What? Am I the only dark spot in the room? What’s going on? No, so I’ll tell you why that changed my life. That day she picked me to come to Chemistry II. Chemistry is more than just elements and, you know, mixing chemicals together. It’s actually playing with science. So because of her, I got to actually do real science. I joined a team called Science Olympiad. Anyone here know what science Olympiad is? It’s a team that you can do in the high schools. Sign up for it. You get to really build things. We’ve got to build rockets. We got to build these crazy things, steel bridges, popsicle stick bridges. And one of the things that I was left was a new design called a water scooter. It’s like a little jet ski on water, but you get to make one yourself. And you got to use household products.

I use a thousand island salad dressing bottles. It was great. So, I designed this thing. Never done it before. And we went to regionals and I won. Went to state, I won and that changed my life. That’s when I knew I wanted to do something different. And that’s when I asked my teacher what I want to be. She says, “An engineer.” And so forth,  I went to college, got to college, goal was to play college football, got to do it in New Mexico. And first thing coach says, the first day of practice, “What’s your major?” And I said, “Engineering, sir.” He’s like, what? “Engineering.” “No, you can’t do engineering. You’ll never have time to play football. Football is serious in college. It isn’t high school, it’s serious.” So in my -no one can tell me what I could do. I’m going to do engineering. That’s what I’m going to do. So long story short, graduate Mechanical and an Aerospace Engineering degree. Loved it. First job out of high school- college. I worked at Johnson Space at NASA- Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas as a test engineer. And so one of the test engineers I did was hyper velocity impact testing. And what is that? So we designed shields for any spacecraft that goes into space. Real quick, have you come up real quick?

Here catch that, oh oh oh oh oh. So we think- we build shields for these test- for the air, space, light, particles We build shields for our space shuttles, International Space Station so forth, so I need you real quick, stand up, stand up. So this is just junk. We’ve been in space since the 60s and we’ve got junk floating all around in space right now. And this little thing is just a small example. I want to hit this OK, let’s pretend you hit that. So we’re going to pretend you. Boom. It hit, fell. What happened? Nothing, right? So what if we’re in our space shuttle we’re flying, floating around- we’re not- we’re in International Space Station, we’re floating around the Earth. Can you please queue the video? Same piece of metal, that happens. 17,000 miles an hour. First thing you do when you get to Houston, you’re testing engineer, they tell you to test for the safety of the astronauts. Your key priority is the safety of the crew, before anything else, before a mission and so forth. So the entry hole, exit hole. You hit this thing here, nothing. That same plastic ball in space? You destroy the International Space Station, the size of a football field. So did that for five years. Got to travel. Enjoyed that. It was a great experience. Got to meet great astronauts, got to inspect the space shuttles. Who has been to the Intrepid here? Got to see the Enterprise. That’s really cool, huh. I got to actually work on some of the space shuttles that are in L.A. the Discovery and Endeavor that’s in Florida. So I actually got to work on those space shuttles, inspect them, it was a really great experience. Changed jobs. I wanted more than just to be an individual test engineer.

[00:25:26] ORDONEZ: My next goal, I wanted to be was in overall materials, I want to be more than just a test engineer. And so I became a materials engineer. Materials engineer. Now I’m not just responsible for testing one sided project. Now I got to test other materials, I got to burn things, bend things, break things. Anything we went to space, we tested. We broke it, tested, make sure it was safe for the astronauts. The clothes the astronauts wear in space. We actually make those ourselves in-house because, flammability. We got to make sure it’s safe for the astronauts. So we make all those processes. So I did that for two years. Loved it. Got to work on some cool missions. Then I moved on to what I do now, is a system engineer. So as a system engineer, our job is to communicate. As I was a test engineer. Then I was a materials engineer. Now a system engineer, example of that, right now, I’m going to use you sir. Stand up, stand up, right here, corner. You are my mechanical engineer. OK. So you come to me, you’re given the me from your boss and your boss says, “This is your mechanical guy.” Say, “Great. Nice to meet you. You’re on my team.” We go have coffee. We have a good time. And then I have you over your here, can you stand up? Stand up. I want to you to say “Hi” to him. Say “Hi.” You are my electrical engineer. And I tell you, “OK, I need you to talk to the mechanical. You’re going to be best buddies because you’re going to design something for my mission.”  And you say, “Cool. “So you all hang out. And you design, you talk together, communicate. Then you come back to me you say, “Eric this is what we got, this is your power, this is your mechanical structure.”

So then- you can sit down, thank you so much. So then, I take that and I go to the other person in the corner. Can you stand up ma’m, stand up. Yeah go ahead, stand up. You’re my design engineer, so you’re now going to take the amount out of what they give you and put it all together. And then you come up and say, “Eric, here’s your piece.” And I said, “Great, it’s amazing. It’s awesome.” You can sit down. Thank you so much. And then I go out to my project manager and I head up and I say, “OK, 10 million dollars. This is what you get.” And of course the project head says, 10 million? You were only given 500,000.” So I say, “Yeah,  but what had happened was, and the rest is history. We go back and forth. I’m always communicating to the team. So think of me as like the team captain of a football team. I’m the one responsible for the team making sure the players are in the right spot. Everything’s working together. Everything’s flowing together and we’re communicating back and forth from the project. So the project I’m working now in-space manufacturing. I am the leads system engineer for in-space manufacturing and so real quick, what do you think this is?

Stand up, stand up, right here. So, take that, take that, show everyone. Wave it up in the air. So, we have a 3D printer on the space station right now. Pass it around, pass it around. And so, one of things is, we asked the astronauts, “What are some things you need?” And we had an astronaut onboard and Commander Buzz comes up and tells me, say, “You know, it’s really dry. And I got this itch in my back sometimes.” And it’s like OK. “Could you design a back scratcher?” And let me tell you, you see, that back cratcher. We went to like a dozen iterations because we have to go through this whole safety, the whole process, talking here, here. We did that like a dozen times. So I asked them, “Well why do you need that?” He says, “Well you know, I don’t really want to ask my partner over to scratch my back. And we’ve got some important equipment and it just doesn’t feel right going.” And so we asked, “OK what do you want the backscratcher to be like?” And we created the backscratcher. So a lot of other different units are being done. Here’s another piece, why don’t you come over and take that? What do you-show it to everyone- What do you think that is? Yes? A wrench, close close. We’ll get to a wrench. That’s actually an Oxygen Sensor Holder. We basically attach that to the Environmental Control Life Support System. So currently, who here likes to drink urine or pee? I’ve had some. Tell you what, it’s not bad actually. It wasn’t bad. Sweat, urine. Well we’ve developed a way that we can take your sweat and your pee and turn it into drinkable water and create oxygen from it. So the ECLSS, Environmental Control Life Support System, we use that. We develop that- currently they would take a sensor, put it in, and then tell us how much oxygen concentration would have. Well the astronauts holding this for 20 minutes, they have other things to do. So we developed this holder for it. What’s the next thing an astronaut might need? That we’re currently printing right now, a spoon. So the spoon is another object here that’s kind of an object-have a look at this.

[00:30:19] ERICK ORDONEZ: Take a look at the spoon. So when an astronaut goes in the space, he’s given many things but he’s given one of those. And it always stays in his pocket. He’s only giving one, he’s told don’t lose it, because you don’t get another one. So if they lose their spoon and a spoon breaks, guess what they use? Their fingers. You know, it’s really funny, they eat banana pudding like this, I promise. So, 3-D printing- we’re being- using it right now in space. There’s a lot of things these things we’re showing are very good examples. Here’s another tool. Our wrench and one of the things we’re trying to- take it take pass it back, pass it back show it around. One of the things we’re trying to do, is we’re trying to show that we don’t have to take things from the ground anymore. We do have to take a dozen wrenches. We don’t have to take a dozen spoons. If we can just take the product that makes it and actually make it in space, save the weight on the ground, because the most important part of, you know manufacturing, is the weight it costs. It costs right now, currently I think, is a hundred thousand dollars per pound that we send up in space. OK. So if you look at me right now? There’s a reason why I couldn’t be an astronaut. So, the future- what is 3D printing going to be in the future? Where are we going with this? What do you think this is? Come on, take that. Pass it around. What do you think that is?Real quick, yeah. It’s a jar of Mars simulant. So Mars simulant is basically, excuse me. The dirt from Mars. But not from Mars, it’s from a volcano in Arizona that has the same properties of what the Mars dirt would be when we go there. So we asked,” What do you need that for?” Well as science Bob says, when go on a trip, you forget something you got to go to Walmart or pick, you know, go pick up a toothbrush. Well wouldn’t it be cool if there were Walmarts in space and we can build them up. Can you queue the next video? See that building on our left? That’s our Walmart in the future, I think.

So our goal is to be able to 3D print houses and huts for astronauts and to be able to do it in 24 hours. So if we can build your house in 24 hours so you can live in it, wouldn’t that be great? So we’re working towards that. And so that Mars simulant right- we know there’s water on Mars. We know that if we have enough dirt, the additives, we can process this. Currently we’re working with the Army and other departments here- here in the U.S. to be able to create this process. So that is the future. 3D printing we do in-space manufacturing, where in space- terrestrial, the moon, Mars, go to asteroid. We want to be able to do this for our astronauts. So in closing, you know with this, there’s always goals. There’s always things we’re trying to get better on. And, you know, I live by this- told as a kid, I did- I was never-I never thought I was going to be an engineer. I always thought I was going to be something else. And you got a lot of people with a lot of cool jobs and you know you look at your jobs, oh it’s OK. But you know, you realize you really do have a cool job when you see all this. And I live by these, I want to leave you with these three things kids. I mean, no matter what- I call it the three B’s. You want to be successful? Listen to thee B’s. Number one, be respectful. Always be respectful. Number two, be yourself. All right, you want to always be yourself. And the third one, and this is the one that I really, really harp on, is be tomorrow. And I say be tomorrow real seriously because you always have to have goals. I can tell you right now my “be tomorrow” is I believe someday, I will be a NASA administrator for NASA in the U.S. All right guys, thank you so much for your time. You’re amazing. Enjoy your day. And we’ll see you real soon.

PFLUGFELDER: Alright, awesome. NASA engineer right here on this stage. Listen we also want to- we get our 3D printer going. We wanted to thank the Staten Island makerspace. They donated or loaned us their printer for this little demo. They will be around after the show if you want to learn a little bit more about how 3D printers work and what they do. And also if you haven’t got a chance to check out some of the things that Eric handed out, he will also be around after the show. We’ll tell you all about the fun stuff going on after the show. Woah. Look at all this. All right. So maybe we’ve kind of covered the future, but we know that a lot of scientists are interested in our past. Way back. Ancient civilizations uncovering our very beginnings. Uncovering things like mummies. And actually instead of going into space, digging into the ground. And so we have a presenter here and that is her cool jobs. So to tell us a little bit of more about what she does. Please welcome. Forensic anthropologist Angelique Corthals.

[00:35:24] ANGELIQUE CORTHALS, FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST: So thank you. Thank you very much everybody for inviting me here. It’s really exciting. And just by just a few words, you can tell already that my accent is not from around here, right? I was actually born in Belgian, which is very famous for the waffles, and the parents, probably, for the beer. But right away, I was taken away from Belgian and I was actually raised in Central Africa and South Africa. So I got to travel the world a lot and experience a whole lot of things. And as a kid, I was really an outdoors-y kid. I just couldn’t stand in place. I had to go out and run the world and I would do that with my dog and we would go into the woods and have those magnificent adventures where we would try to solve mysteries. We would go and see a bizarre looking tree and that tree had to have been planted by a pirate or something. And they had to have been a treasure at the bottom of that tree. So of course, we had to dig. And I had a dog with me so it was very easy to dig. Unfortunately, I repeated that experiment in my mother’s gardens, so she’s not very pleased about that. But she already understood that I had kind of the bug of archaeology, which totally cres- did not go well, because the problem is with archaeology your parents always think, oh well you’re not going to make a lot of money when you’re older. So why don’t you want to become a doctor or lawyer maybe? And I said, “No, I’m going to stick with archaeology.” And then my parents committed the worst sin parents can commit. They went away without me. And I was really angry because they went to a country that I read- already heard about and that always fascinated me. They went to Egypt. And you can see on this picture, that there’s a glaring omission on that picture. There’s no me. So what we- what they did is to try to work their guilt is that they brought me back tons and tons of presents they brought me little artifacts, fake mummies, books about ancient Egypt. And from there on, I was sold. I was going to be an archaeologist/Egyptologists. So that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I went to university to become an archaeologist. And I was the perfect fit for my profession, because I was I’ve always been outdoorsy, so I’m still outdoorsy now and I get to actually work out in the field around the world. Which is really really great. And what I do as a forensic anthropologist is I mix in anthropology and archaeology with the biology side. So a lot of people are really into artifacts when they go for- to become an archaeologist. But in my case, I really want to know- I wanted to know the history of the people who lived back in those times because I thought it was a much more intimate history, somebody like me. How did they feel? What did they do when- back in 3000 years before now? What did they do? How did they live? What disease affected them? That really was what was interesting me. So nowadays, of course I still go out in the world and look at human remains. And one of those sites in which I look at human remains is in the fabled city of Ur. Now who knows where Ur is?

Well, this map will tell you, right? It’s a place where you really don’t want to go quite yet on a vacation. It’s southern Iraq. And even though you shouldn’t be going there, archaeologists are allowed to go under certain circumstances. And we’re allowed to dig for bones. And here is one of those remains from Ur. So who can tell me what this is? Yes?

It’s a human skull. Absolutely. I recognize you. You were in my program yesterday. All right. So yes, it is a humans skull. How old do you think this human skull is? Maybe a thousand years. One hundred thousand years over there. Ooh 500 A.D. we’re getting even more more specialized there. Very good. Well actually, this skull is 3000 years old. I know right? Pretty good looking still for 3000 years old, don’t you think? I mean, not bad, right? So this skull tells me a lot about the identity of a person and I can tell whether it’s a male or female and we’re going to actually- I’m going to teach you after the show how to be able to identify a person when you just have this to go on with. all right? So another site where I work is of course Egypt and Egypt is west of Iraq.

[00:40:57] CORTHALS: So- but it doesn’t take me that much time to get from Iraq to Egypt. And what is Egypt famous for? Pyramids. Yes. And what else? Sphinx and mummies! Yes, absolutely right. So some of you have probably gone to the museum. Here’s one of those very famous beautiful, beautiful mummies. What are mummies? They are human remains wrapped up in linen tissues and you wanted to say? There are dead people, right? That’s very important, yes. There are dead people preserved for many, many, many years. So the Egyptian wanted to preserve their dead people because they really wanted to preserve those they loved, including their pets and every object that they had when they were alive. So what we’re going to do now, I’m going to need three volunteers who are not afraid to handle mummification. Come on up and we’re going to mummify. A steak for eternity. All right. So how are you doing? (Good) All right. So these are my apprentice embalmers. Those were the people who were mummifying the bodies. So the first step is going to be- so going to take the salt right there and it’s going to be pouring salt on the steak. So make sure you covered the steak with the salts really well. So every single part. It’s not as easy as it looks to embalm, right? So why do you think this salt is necessary? It dehydrates. Absolutely. So the salt is actually going to suck up the moisture and moisture is really bad because it decomposes very quickly. The meat, it starts stinking, it’s goo, it’s gross. With this is, it’s going to actually make the meat very, very, very, dry. All right, well done. Gosh he’s a great embalmer. Been doing that before. That’s a little concerning. All right. That’s good. Excellent. Just making sure every single piece is covered. Well done, so you can, think there’s a towel over there. All right. So the second step, that will be for you. And the second step. Now you have your dried piece of meat or it’s going to dry up. The problem with dry meat is that it becomes very brittle. So you need something to cover the meat so that it keeps together, right? So the body doesn’t fall apart and doesn’t become brittle and that envelope is actually a sticky envelope made of honey. So go ahead and use the honey. You can just actually just poured honey over the salt. That’s going to be you- fun. Very nice. And so the honey is another property. Honey, if you’ve ever had a sore throat, what would your parents give you. Yeah? Tea with honey. Right. So why do you think the tea makes you feel better with the honey? It’s actually an antiseptic. So it kills germs.

So the honey serves two purposes. It will kill the germs and it will preserve the brittle meat. All right. You’ve made my job really nice and gooey now. Very well done. So when this, this honey eventually dries up, this meat is going to be nice and preserves. Try not to replicate this at home because I don’t think your parents will like that. Although maybe you can make a nice barbecue sauce afterwards but. All right so the next step is a step that I’m going to do myself which is the most famous step, is the mummy bandage! Who has been dressed as a mummy at Halloween? Come on, with toilet paper. Right. So the mummy bandage is where you wrap up the mummy into the famous bandages.

[00:45:25] CORTHALS: Right so you wrap it up all around like so. Here I’m just going to wrap it up by cutting it little by little. In fact the ancient Egyptian would not wrap up the body by just turning it around and around and round. They would do exactly this. They would cut the little pieces and put the wrapping very tightly around, around the body. And what they would do is write little prayers on these wrappings so that the person would make it more easily into the afterlife. So that any kind of blocks to the afterlife and especially to heaven would be transgressed thanks to the prayers. And they would also put little amulets so that those amulets would also protect the body. Which is of course, something that the tomb robbers knew very well. That’s why you never find mummies with their wrapping because the tomb ,robbers knew where to try to find the precious amulets. Right. So do you think that we are done now? We have our nice bandages. Are we done? No. No we’re not because actually you could see just as I was doing that the bandages kind of come off, right? So you need to also keep the bandages down and nicely coated. And this is the job of our third embalmer, who is actually going to take sap. Go ahead and she’s going to pour the sap over the bandages. Go right ahead. And the sap-Yes. She’s enthusiastic. The sap- once the sap is actually nice and tight and actually dry, is going to form a coat on the table as well. And we’ll keep the bandages in place for eternity. Thank you very much. That was the best mummification ever done since ancient Egypt. Well done, thank you so much. So in in about 3000 years when archaeologists dig up New York, this is what the steak is going to be looking like. Beef jerky. You’ll never eat beef jerky the same way ever again, are you? All right. So my job’s really cool because I get to solve mystery on a daily basis. Not only do I get to solve mysteries of mummies- and actually performing mummification is important because it tells us, as scientist, what the steps are and where we can look for DNA. Each of those steps may actually damage the DNA inside the mummies. So it’s important to know what each of those steps actually are. And I get to solve mysteries by looking at bones and I’ll show you how we do that later on. And all in all, it’s very important that you know that you shouldn’t actually get stuck into one part of a field. So I’m an anthropologist who’s mixed biology with, with my knowledge of archaeology to solve mysteries. It’s very important that you keep your mind open to all the possibilities of all the fields out there. Thank you very much.

PFLUGFELDER: Who’s ready for some Arby’s? Yeah let’s go head over, and that looks delicious. All right. Well terrific. Well that’s pretty exciting. So you get to see that there’s all sorts of areas in science that you can pick a job for and go and use your skills. All right, so how’s this for a job? How many of you would be interested in a job where toy companies and appliance companies all over the country send you free stuff all year long? How can you like that? Yeah that be kind of fun, wouldn’t it? Believe it or not, there is a job where that is the case. But you do have a little work to do.

CORTHALS: You need to test these things and make sure that they’re in good shape. So please welcome the chief technologist for Good Housekeeping magazine. Rachel Rothman.

[00:49:59] RACHEL ROTHMAN, TECHNOLOGIST: Hi everyone. How are you guys doing? So as science Bob was saying, I think I have the coolest job of just about anyone. As chief technologist, I get to test all the latest and greatest products out there. Whether it’s beauty products, whether it’s the clothing I’m wearing, whether it’s kitchen appliances and toys, my personal favorite. I get to test that every single day and I work with an awesome team of scientists and chemists and biologists. I have mechanical engineers I work with, electrical engineers. So as they were all saying, there are all these really awesome things that you can do as a scientist. But growing up,, I don’t really know that this was a possibility. I have three siblings. We’re all extremely close as you guys can see from the picture. We were always playing sports together. My father is in the audience, he’s over there. He coached us all. So I think they have a photo of us playing sports. So, me playing sports. I played lacrosse, I played soccer. We were all engaged in a lot of different things and even to this day, I’m still super close with my family and we’re a really tight knit group. But we all had different interests growing up, and my interest was always in science and mathematics. So when it came time to go to college, I knew that I wanted to study that. So I studied mechanical engineering. But even when I was studying that, I had no idea such a cool job existed. I just knew I really like taking things apart and putting it back together again. Anyone in the audience like that and you anyone like taking things apart putting it back together? I see some hands out there. I think we have some budding engineers. I know they call dibs on some of you guys for chemists before. That sounds like an engineer to me. So I went to school, I studied mechanical engineering and very fortunately I had an adviser tell me there’s this awesome job where they want a mechanical engineer to test products and the rest is kind of history. So what is an engineer? Yes, you guys can shout out some things. What are some words that come to mind? Science, problems, so- exac- yeah, I’m hearing a lot of the right things about it. Yes. So an engineer is actually someone who takes science and gets to apply it to solve real world problems. Whether it’s the engineers at Google, and they’re developing you know these phenomenal search engines that basically help us do a lot of different things. The chairs that you’re sitting in, different engineers helped design these. Engineers get to do really awesome things. And my job is finding products, looking at them and then finding out which ones are the best. Which ones are going to do really well and which ones that you should go out and buy. Because whether you’re spending $5, you’re spending $50 you spend, $50,000. We want to make sure the product you’re getting is going to perform well. So I figured I’d call some volunteers to help me actually look at some of the things I looked at in the lab and you guys are going to help me judge whether or not you think it should pass or fail our test.

That sounds good? Yeah you guys ready? All right. I have my volunteers. Come on up. I’m gonna need five volunteers. We’re going to get started with the first one. So if you can hold this out to the audience, open it up. What does it look like? What do you think it is? t is an Elsa costume. So what do you think the scientists in my lab looked at when we’re looking at this costume? What something you think they may do? So they may or they may watch the movie. That wouldn’t be included in this particular test, maybe when we’re testing TVs. But audience, what do you guys think? What do you think are some of the things they may do? Who said light it on fire. I heard a light it on fire. That’s actually one of the tests that we do. It’s flammability testing. I get to set things on fire as part of my job. How cool. I get to drop things, I get to set it on fire. You get to do all sorts of tests. So some of the things we do is look at the durability. But then we also do a test in which we set these samples on fire. So this particular costume, my volunteer. Do you think that it would pass or fail the flammability test? Audience what do you think. If you think it passed, raise your hand? If you think it failed, scream fail. Majority of you said fail and you are correct. This failed our tests. So unfortunately this costume, the samples that we tested, went up in flames in less than three and a half seconds. So it is definitely a dangerous costume. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. All right. My next volunteers. If you guys, you may have to take your hat off for this one. If you guys could try to figure out how you would use this product first. I want to give you a hint. You’re going to put it over your head. It’s going to go on your head. If you get uncomfortable, you can take it off, but try to put it over your head. Alright, you want to make sure you have the hole in the front so we can breathe. So turn it around this way. Alright, audience, what do we think that they’re wearing right now? Oh. Sleep everywhere. Who said that? I heard it. So these are actually called ostrich pillows. So I don’t know if you guys know about ostriches and the way they sleep, but they can actually sleep standing up. So they can just be standing there, sometimes even with their eyes open, and they could be sleeping and you wouldn’t even know it. So. As humans we can’t exactly do that.

[00:55:15] ROTHMAN: But sometimes you want to fall asleep, whether you’re on the train, whether you’re on a plane. You know, you’re transiting to work. Do you guys want to try, you know, maybe lean down on your shoulder? Do you want to lie down on the ground see if you can get comfortable with it? Yes. See if you lie down. How does that feel? What do we think? It feels OK. You guys can stand up. All right, so what are some of the things you think the fiber scientists, or actually the people who look at this in our lab. What do you think some of the things they look at are? You can take it off your head, so we can hear you. What do you think? So this one- this one you can do that as well. But we’re actually looking at like the construction of it. So how durable they are, how soft they are. But even if in the lab it does really well, if we have people then try it and they don’t like it, it’s not really a great product. So audience again. If you think it passed Raise your hand, if you think it failed, scream fail. This one failed as well. So in the lab, it did OK. But again, it’s kind of a silly thing. I don’t know if you guys would wear it. I. Would never want to be wearing this in public. So it wound up failing our test. I think it’s pretty obvious what these are. If I get my volunteers, I need you guys to start lifting some weights. Start doing some reps for me. Keep going. Oh yeah. Work it out. You don’t have to go to the gym later. This is going to be a workout for the day. I get out a work out right now. Alright, keep going. All right, so what do you think we test in the lab for this? Keep going. What do you think? What are some of the things you may test if it comes to weights? Audience what do you guys think? I heard… Balance definitely.

  1. So that’s actually- you know what, audience, stand on up. I need you to stand up. Everyone in the audience get up. I want you all, in your right hand, picture you have a 20 pound weight in your right hand. I’m not lifting it. In your left hand, pretend you have like a 2 pound weight, a 2 pound dumbbell. So on the right hand, we’re going to squeeze it up. It’s so hard. And now on the left hand, the pound one like ah, this was easy. Now on the right hand, the 20 pound Left hand, two pounds. Alright, are you guys starting to know? So what do you think some of the things we may do is? Someone said it before. We’re actually looking at the weights. Thank you guys. You guys can sit down, you guys are awesome. Thank you. So with the weights, what we’re looking at is, are they actually the same weight? So we have mechanical engineers and they’re looking at it on precision scales to see whether or not they’re going to weigh the same amount. All right. So audience putting it out to you. Did it pass? Hand-up or scream fail. We got mixed answers in here. So we looked at dozens of sets. And what we’ve found is some of them are closer in weight than others, but no two are exactly you know accurate in what they weighed. So thank you guys. You guys don’t need to keep on lifting any more. You guys tired? But a good trick is- so in general, they were pretty OK, but some of them were off by as much as 15 to 20 percent difference between the two weights. So if you’re lifting two different sets of weights and they weigh a different amount, in the end you may get more bulky on one side or feel it a little bit more. So we recommend you just put a dot on one of them. So each time you can alternate the different sides. And then we also look at things like the durability and the construction of these. Thank you. Can I get a round of applause for my volunteers? Before you guys go off, you guys want a piece of candy? No! Don’t take it, it’s not candy! Has anyone seen these? These are laundry detergent packets. So a while ago, these came out on the market and they were an ingenious solution to an everyday problem. So when you’re, you know, you’re going to the laundry, you may have these really big, you know, you know, cans of it and they may be spilling everywhere. So what these came out, they were really convenient. But kids were eating them so it became really dangerous. So the government actually came out with more recent regulations around that so that the packets are harder to open and it has a bittering agent with that. So with that, unfortunately, no real candy, but you guys can take a seat down.

Thank you guys, audience, for them. So. Those are some of the things that we recently looked at in the lab, but I figured you guys can actually come and participate and help me do some of the toy testing that we do in the lab. So I think we already have a few volunteers that are going to come up onstage. Help me test out some of the recent toys we looked at. They’ve been pre-warned, they may get a little bit messy during this. So if my first volunteer- two volunteers can take a seat right here.

[01:00:07] ROTHMAN: All right, have you seen this game before? Yes. What is this game called? It is called pie face. Oh, thank you very much. You may get a little messy so we’re giving you some aprons to put on and some goggles. So some of the things that we look at. And if you don’t mind, while I’m talking, if you can put some- as much whipped cream as you can physically fit on top of here would be fantastic. So in the lab, we’ll look at toys. And the first thing we do whenever we get a new toy is to check for safety. So the government-just like that, putting it all on. Get as much as you can on there. So we always look at the safety of it. All right, I think that’s good. So we’re always looking at the safety of things and the government actually has tests that we can do to make sure that they’re conforming to it, but then we do our own tests in lab. So one of the things we may look at with this, it’s a mechanical toy, is the crank. Is it going to keep on working when we’re using it? So different things like that. So you guys are going to take a turn with this game. So once we check and make sure it’s safe, we need to make sure it’s fun, right? Who wants a toy if it’s not any fun? So if you want to go first, if you don’t mind, you want to spin it. Let’s see what we get, alright hands on you, you got three. So you got to crank it three times. And guys, I’m going to need you to count with me and I warned you at any time if you haven’t seen this game, the pie can go in the face. So at any point randomly, during it- during the cranking, it can go in the face. You got to make sure you line your face up right in there. All right audience, go. 1, 2, 3.Pie in the face. All right, if you want to keep on going, you guys are going to play until you get to number 10 and I’m going to take my two other volunteers. Can I get you guys to come over here? You can grab this one. So we also look at ride on toys. This is another fun test that we do in the lab. So again, we have already vetted them for safety by the time we ever have kids come in to look for that fun factor. So I’m going to let you guys try this one for the first time on your own. And we’re going to do it as like a trial run, and then we’re going to have a race going in the other direction. So can I have you guys lineup straight in this direction? Let’s go this way a little bit more. Do you guys mind, this way? Good job. Who’s- who’s seen these before? The space scooters.

Any one? Audience? Scream out if you’ve seen them. Alright, so not too many. So we got in a lot of toys and gadgets and everything before they even hit the market. So we’re testing them so in the end, you’ll know whether or not they’re good enough to get. So with this if you want, you can just do it like a normal scooter. If not, you’re going to put your back foot on it and it’s going to kind of be a pump and go mechanism, OK? So you guys can give it a whirl, you can do it a little bit slower the first time to try it out. Pump in the back or you can do the normal scooter. All right, that was good enough. We’re going to try. Alright, we’re going to line up one more time, this time we’re going to go this way. Do you, do you guys want to try the other way or no? You can keep doing it that way if you’d rather. You if you put one foot on here and then one back there and it’s literally like a pump back and forth. It’s kind of difficult. It took me a while too and with this, it’s not going to be too- I can’t stay balanced anymore. You guys can just do the normal scooter way, alright? And you guys are going to try to tag our partner in the back, okay? On the count of 3. 1, 2, 3. TIME! Let’s hear it for both of our volunteers! So what you guys think? Afterwards what do you guys think? Was it fun? Is it something you would do again? Way too high. OK. So some things we may want to look at are age requirements, making sure it’s the right size person. So a lot of these different things we’ll look at in the lab. So I have one more toy we’re going to test out. You guys can head on down if you guys want to. You can head on down. Thank you. All right, so one of the things when we’re doing toy testing in the lab it’s really hard to get kids to stop playing with toys. Unless you give them another toy. So if you guys want stand up with these two, come on the center the stage. You can leave them on or take them off it’s your choice. There you go. You can leave it on. How many times did you guys get pied? Only once? How many times? 5 times?!

So what did you think? Did you like it? It’s fun watching your friend get pied, right? I’m going to have to ask you where you got the shirt afterwards. I really love this shirt. So another one of the things that we look at, these are called air poppers. So with these, we were testing whether or not they’re actually going to be able to project and how fun they are and things like that. OK? So do you guys want to come over here and try to pop them into the audience? So. What do you think? It works, did we like it? Kind of works. Did you like it though? Right. Thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it. You guys can take a… take a walk off the stage.

[01:05:01] ROTHMAN: You can leave it right here. Thank you. So basically, you guys got to see what I do and it is to test all sorts of things, whether it’s for safety, durability, ease of use. So in the end we can tell you what the greatest products are out there.

PFLUGFELDER: Rachel, and I know you’re wrapping things up, but I kind of I kind of have my own product. I was wondering if you could just do a quick little, let me know how it’s going to work out?  Great. So, you know those little popper things? Mine are a little bit different. Bring mine out. So see, I didn’t think one was enough of that. So this one actually shoots a hundred ping pong balls at once. And I think it will be great for for kids of all ages. What you do is you load this back chamber with high flammability ethanol.

ROTHMAN: I don’t think that’s going to pass my safety checks.

PFLUGFELDER: No, I think it will be fine. Then you take a high voltage spark generator. And you just touch it to this little bolt. That will create a spark and that will shoot it off in a small explosion.  

ROTHMAN: Maybe an adult toy.

PFLUGFELDER: Really? Well so here’s the thing. I wanted to demonstrate it, but it turns out you’re not allowed to fire things off of a stage. Yeah. So we put them up in the balconies. If we can bring our lights up.

PFLUGFELDER: Bring our lights up here. Yeah so you can see, we’ve got two of them over there and two of them over there. Before we do that though, can we please bring all of our cool scientists out here? Come on out give it up for all of our amazing scientists. And we also want you to know that you can get a little bit up close and interact with them right after the show. We’re going to have a couple of things going on on stage. We’ll have a couple of things going on in the back. The Staten Island Maker Space will be around so that you can check all of that out. Did you guys have a good time today? All right. So we have a lot of rain falling from the sky, but this might be a world first of a shower of ping pong balls. What could possibly go wrong, right? We do want you to watch your step as you leave because there might be ping pong balls on the floor. All right. Are our igniters up? Are you guys ready? All right, we’re going to do two volleys. Volley one. Count us down in 3, 2, 1 fire. We’ve got some. All right lets try volley two in 3, 2, 1 fire. There we go. All right. Thanks so much for coming out. Enjoy the rest of the festival. Hope to see you next year.

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Cool Jobs: Inspiring Future Scientists

A NASA scientist prints 3D homes on Mars. An anthropologist solves mummy mysteries. An engineer tests new toys every day. What do these people have in common? A science job! Meet them all (and more) during this interactive event that gives everyone the chance to try each cool job for themselves.

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“Science Bob” PflugfelderTeacher, Television Personality

“Science Bob ” Pflugfelder is a science teacher, maker, author, and presenter who loves sharing his passion for all things science. He regularly appears on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Live With Kelly & Michael, and The Dr. Oz Show.

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Raychelle BurksChemical Detective, Geek Girl

Raychelle Burks is an analytical chemist and assistant professor at St. Edward’s University. She has a background in forensic science, having a passion for scientific detection since junior high school. Out of the lab, Dr. Burks specializes in applying scientific principles to stories and trends in popular culture.

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Rachel RothmanTechnologist, Engineer

Rachel Rothman is the chief technologist and engineering director for the Good Housekeeping Institute, the legendary consumer product evaluation laboratory founded in 1900.

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Erick OrdoñezEngineer

Erick Ordoñez is currently in the Systems Engineering Group at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the lead systems engineer for In Space Manufacturing (ISM) and Additive Construction with Mobile Emplacement (ACME) Projects at NASA MSFC.

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Angelique CorthalsForensic Anthropologist

Angelique Corthals is a biomedical/forensic anthropologist who earned her PhD at the University of Oxford. Her work has focused on biomedical research, including the study of the ecology of infectious diseases and auto-immune diseases, as well as forensic anthropology in South America and the Middle East.

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