Inspiring the next generation of scientists

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On Saturday, April 20, 2013, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia was transformed into a science wonderland, filled with awe and excitement!

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The Philadelphia Science Carnival, a free outdoor event, featured more than 150 exhibits showcasing all types of hands-on science activities and games. The Carnival kicks off the Philadelphia Science Festival, which runs until April 28. GSK is a sponsor, and we had our own exhibit booth. We had 25 employee volunteer helping visitors to conduct science experiments related to the pharmaceutical industry. (I promise they were cool and fun for the kids!)

As a researcher, I was excited to share my love of science with the kids--and parents--who stopped by.One of my coworkers said "It made me realize that we sometimes forget how fortunate we are to be a part of something truly amazing on a daily basis. After a long hard day, we can go home and know that we will, ultimately, help someone in the future because of our efforts today. Science is cool."

She's right. Science is cool and our booth, which focused on how to discover a new medicine, was a popular attraction. Visitors practiced pipetting techniques and performed a colorimetric experiment to simulate how scientists go about "screening" thousands of compounds in an effort to find one that could treat a disease.They visited the molecular modeling station where they were given 3D glasses to work through a computer simulation that showed 3D protein structures of disease targets, medicines interacting with the disease site, and the chemical structure of medicines. The field of molecular modeling (designing medicines) uses state-of-the-art computational tools, 3D structures of disease targets and medicines, and chemical intuition. Each scene in the software demonstrated the similarities in shape and properties between the disease target and medicines, teaching the basic scientific principles of "like likes Like," "opposites attract," and "complementary shapes fit together."

The opportunity to expose people of all ages--but especially kids--to our industry is exciting. What could be more motivating than watching their eyes light when "discovering" a new medicine, and hearing them ask "Can I do that again?!"

Who knows what this next generation can discover?