McDonnell Scholars to present cultures from around the world at Saint Louis Science Center

Interactive program open to general public

Graduate and professional students within the McDonnell International Scholars Academy at Washington University in St. Louis will share their respective cultures with the general public Saturday, Nov. 19, in an interactive fair at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The program, “Planet Passport: Your Journey to Our Multicultural World,” will be held from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in the center’s May Hall on the ground floor. Free and open to the public, the hands-on learning fair is suitable for children, teens and families.

The McDonnell Academy enrolls exceptional graduate and professional students from partner universities across the world. McDonnell Scholars are selected on the basis of their promise to become future leaders in academia, government, the professions or the corporate world.

During the fair, the scholars will showcase the language, dress, history, government, educational systems, and science and technology innovations of more than 15 cultures.

Attendees will begin their journey by receiving a fact-filled passport that can be “stamped” as they visit each booth.

Booths will include cultural items, games and activities. There also will be raffle prizes.

McDonnell Scholars will offer three global science and technology demonstrations — at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. — in areas ranging from robotics to chemistry.

“In keeping with the McDonnell Academy’s mission of broadening cross-cultural understanding, the McDonnell Scholars will engage with the St. Louis community by bringing the essence of their respective cultures to visually stimulating, educational and interactive exhibits,” says Jim Wertsch, PhD, academy director and the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences. “This also is an opportunity for the McDonnell Scholars to work in teams to further develop the interpersonal network the academy provides.”

For the past two years, the McDonnell Academy has partnered with Washington University’s Gephardt Institute for Public Service to involve the scholars in a day dedicated to community service. Robin Hattori, assistant director of the institute, says that such opportunities provide exposure to the greater community and spark a passion to become further engaged.

Kristin Williams, office manager at the McDonnell Academy, says this is the first time the scholars are tackling a project of this nature and taking the exhibits “on the road.” The students have been meeting in brainstorming sessions since August to determine the best ways to translate their cultures, studies and research to the general public.

The scholars also have been busy collecting items unique to their cultures and meeting with Science Center personnel to fine-tune the demonstrations.

The McDonnell Academy and the Gephardt Institute are partnering with the Saint Louis Science Center to launch this inaugural event.

For more information, call (314) 935-9104, or visit