Beyond the Bench: Playing with Science


Leidamarie Tirado-Lee works with Evanston kids on a science experiment during one of Jugando con la Ciencia's hands-on sessions. Bethany Hubbard/SCIENCE IN SOCIETY

BENCH (noun): A long, sturdy work table used by a carpenter, mechanic, scientist, or other worker.

Imagine a scientist. What do you see? A person in a white lab coat wearing goggles and wielding a beaker? Or, perhaps a frazzled, spectacled fellow huddled in a windowless lab? Think again. Scientists are much more than the stereotypes we’ve become so accustomed to seeing. “Beyond the Bench” aims to shed light on the many talents, interests and activities of Northwestern scientists, and the way in which their scientific training influences how they live their lives. From community outreach to sports to culinary endeavors, these scientists are not afraid to venture beyond the bench!

In this episode, we spoke with Leidamarie Tirado-Lee and Emma Flores, two graduate students who are passionate about bilingual science education.  Jugando con la Ciencia

Tirado-Lee and Flores, both PhD students at Northwestern University, are members of Jugando con la Ciencia (Playing with Science), a bilingual science education program based in the Evanston Public Library. Through family friendly lectures and hands-on science activities, the group aims to inspire area Spanish-speaking children and adults to learn about science.

Tirado-Lee has recently taken over as program director, and Flores serves as curriculum director. The program's volunteers are fellow PhD students, such as Constanza Vásquez Doorman, who also serves as advertising director.

Jugando con la Ciencia was founded by Isabel Carrera in 2013 and continues to grow. The program was recently awarded a $10,000 Evanston Community Foundation grant, which they plan to use to expand their outreach work to local middle and elementary schools.

If you're interested in participating, the program's 2015 season starts on January 10. More information at and

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