NIH Pavilion Scientific Themes

Select a title to view activities for each theme.

Molecules and Cells

Dive deep into the world of biology to explore the wonder of cells, tissues, organs, proteins, and genes. Learn how scientists study these living systems to find new ways to improve our health.


DNA Activities (NHGRI)

  1. CRISPR Corner
    What is CRISPR and why is it one of the most innovative gene editing tools available to scientists? What are some potential ways CRISPR can be used? Let’s discuss! Stop by and share your thoughts with us on the ethical implications of this technology.
  2. Genetic Trait Tree
    Do you have a hitchhiker’s thumb? Or do you have dimples? Have you ever wondered why? Come explore the visual wonders of DNA with NHGRI.
  3. Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code Pop-up Exhibit
    We bring the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code Exhibit to you. Walk through the pop-up poster area at your own pace to learn about what a genome is, what it reveals about health and the risk of disease, and how genome sequencing is changing the way we look at ancestry and ourselves. It’s not all about us though, you can also explore how genomics enhances our understanding of the natural world. Have questions? Stop by the NHGRI booth.
  4. Get to Know DNA! (Friday Only)
    Have you ever wondered what DNA looks like? We will provide you with an opportunity to participate in our mini-lab and see first-hand what DNA isolated from strawberries looks like using household materials.

Engineering a Cure for Cancer (NCI)

Doctors treat cancer using medicine, radiation, and surgery. Scientists and engineers help medical doctors improve cancer treatment by designing tools, medicines, and machines that selectively remove cancer cells while not harming healthy cells. One of the challenges of treating cancer is that cancer cells multiply rapidly creating large tumors and spreading throughout the body. At the booth, visitors will learn about cancer cell growth, and research to aid in the removal of cancer cells during surgery and participate in a hands-on activity to engineer a tool that can quickly remove cancer cells while leaving as many healthy cells as possible. Visitors will test their tools in a race against the clock as the tumor cells continue to grow.

Making with Microbes (SEPA)

Collaborate with tiny, living organisms to design, mix and grow a unique biomaterial. A community of yeast and bacteria will do the hard work of manufacturing biomaterial, but you get to decide on the final look and feel by choosing what ingredients to feed your microbes. Take your liquid culutre home in a tightly sealed container decorated with playful accessories to document what is inside. Over the next week, watch your microbes grow a custom biomaterial based on your personal design. This biomaterial is easy and inexpensive to grow, so you can keep experimenting at home!

Say it With Proteins (NIGMS)

Proteins are molecules that play important roles in virtually every activity in the body. They form hair and fingernails, carry oxygen in the blood, enable muscle movement and much more. This activity will explore the importance of proteins, share information on the NIGMS-funded Protein Data Bank, and provide customized, colorful visuals of names using the 3-D protein alphabet.

Seeing is Believing – Muscle Tissue Develop and Wounds Heal (NIAMS)

Strong bones and muscle are essential for the human body to be functional, mobile and flexible. Having strong healthy skin is equally important to serve as a strong protective barrier from harmful pathogens (bacteria and viruses). Daily our bodies are growing and/or repairing our bones, muscles and skin. Look through our microscope and our Ipad (time-lapsed video) to see muscle and skin cells change before your eyes! You will witness the process of muscle development and also wound healing.