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COSI gives students free night of science

Kathy Cubert / The Lantern

More than 5,500 Ohio State students, faculty, staff and guests made their way to the Columbus Center of Science and Industry through inches of snow Friday night, as COSI opened its doors free of charge for COSI After Dark.

The event, which lasted from 7 p.m. to midnight, was organized by University Residences and Dining Services and supported by a number of sponsors.

Free transportation to the downtown museum was provided by CABS, departing from campus bus stops. All regular COSI exhibits were open, as well as additional entertainment such as a DJ and balloon artists.

Liz Smalley, one of the organizers, said the event has been popular with students in the past because of the variety of exhibits and entertainments. She said it could also act as an ice-breaker at the start of Winter Quarter.

“It’s a really unique way for students to mingle with faculty and staff on an informal basis,” she said.

Sierra Alford, a fourth-year in industrial engineering, and Nikita Jackson, a third-year in chemical engineering, attended the Chemistry Live exhibit, which promised “bone-jarring, earth-shattering” explosions.

“I love the fact that it’s hands-on. They take simple experiments and make them fun, and make kids interested in science,” Alford said.
Jackson laughed. “They fool you into becoming science majors.”

At the High Wire Unicycle, long, snaking lines meant 30-minute waits for most. Vishal Bhatnagar and Ritu Biala, both second-year students in computer science and engineering, waited for the chance to pedal across a 1.5-inch cable suspended 17 feet above the ground. The COSI Web site explains the science behind why it is impossible to fall, but Biala was still nervous.

Eight-year-old Avery Smith also waited in line. Her mother, Jevelyn Smith, a financial account analyst at the OSU Medical Center, decided to come because of her daughter, who loves science, she said.

An imitation iron street clock stood sentry outside the Progress exhibit. People wandered down brick streets and past storefronts designed to evoke the late 1800s. Chris Conrad, a fourth-year in construction systems management, rested on the steps of the post office. He said he had just visited COSI with friends last quarter, but came again because it was free. He said COSI still had much to offer college students — especially him.

“I’m a little kid,” he said. “I run around and play with the rest of them. I’m easily amused, basically.”

Back at the unicycle, it was Avery Smith’s turn to ride. Despite appearing nervous at first, when she reached the end of the wire and began to return, she pedaled faster and broke into a grin. It felt “awesome,” she said. “It felt like I was flying in the air.”  

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