Secrets of Softball and Snap-Crackle-Pop Revealed at YES! Expo

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Which is more powerful--an underhand or an overhand softball throw? What's it like to repair the space shuttle wearing NASA flight gloves? And how exactly do you make Rice Krispies?

More than 15,000 middle- and high-school students from throughout Michigan got the answers to these and many other questions at Michigan Tech's Expo">YES! Expo, held Thursday, Nov. 6, at Ford Field in Detroit.

In its mission to educate youth about science, engineering, and technology-based careers, the YES! Expo provided an entire stadium full of hands-on exhibits—and a massive group of young students eager to participate and learn.

The Kellogg Company, one of more than 40 corporations and organizations at the event, demonstrated the technology responsible for rapidly inserting toy prizes into cereal boxes. They also recreated their production of Rice Krispies cereal by adding water and flavoring to white rice and then puffing it in popcorn makers.

One ambivalent student sampled the creation before grinning and exclaiming, "It's good--it tastes just like the real thing!"

Representatives from Kellogg also spoke with kids about career possibilities in science, research, marketing, and technology.

"I would never have thought that scientists could get jobs working for Kellogg's," one student remarked.

Also on hand were the Girl Scouts of Metro Detroit, asking students the important question "What's in your cosmetics?" Most of the young girls gathered around the table weren’t sure; one shook her head before announcing, "I don’t know, but I bet it's really confusing."

Not so, as it turns out. "Most organic cosmetics are created from a few simple ingredients," a Girl Scouts representative explained as the delighted attendees mashed cocoa powder into melted Vaseline to create lip-gloss. Others combined brown sugar with peppermint oil and Vaseline to produce a heavenly scented body scrub.

"It's so easy," one girl enthused, "and we get to take it home with us!"

In the mid-morning and early afternoon, students were treated to the YES! Expo show, featuring a presentation by Cindy Bir, star of Fox Sports Network’s Emmy Award-winning show "Sport Science." Using student volunteers from the audience, Bir measured the force behind underhand and overhand throws, the speed a leg moves when kicking a soccer ball and more.

The show also featured an appearance by NASA astronaut Greg Johnson, who spoke to students of his experiences testing and piloting spacecrafts. Afterward, many students investigated further by donning NASA flight gloves and trying to assemble Lego building blocks.

"I don’t know how they do it," one student said. "It’s like working with oven mitts on your hands."

Auto-minded students learned the science behind reducing driving noise and vibration at the Faurecia exhibit. Representatives talked about the work that goes into "the little things"--consistent musical sound quality even when the seat position changes, the sound made by motorized functions within the car and more.

"That's the kind of work I'm going to do after college," one student proclaimed.

Booths by many of Michigan Tech's own departments and Enterprises peppered the stadium, with participants able to test the exercise science, health and physical education department’s fitness-cycle, check out Michigan Tech's SAE Clean Snowmobile, and look into upcoming Summer Youth Program possibilities.

In addition to Tech, 25 other Michigan and Canadian colleges and universities exhibited at the event.

"It's great that Michigan Tech can put the YES! Expo on," said a representative from Oakland University. "There seem to be even more hands-on booths for the kids to visit than in the past--it just gets better every year."

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.