All news stories

Beckman Institute Open House scheduled for March 31, April 1

The Beckman Institute Open House will be held in person on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Visitors of all ages can do hands-on demos and activities, solve a science scavenger hunt, and meet the people behind world-changing scientific discoveries.
Published on Feb. 21, 2023

Sunlight spills into a spacious living room. The floors are hardwood, the bare walls a modest beige. In the corner hulks a DNA molecule roughly the size and shape of a floor-to-ceiling, multicolored jungle gym.

Outfitted with virtual reality goggles and handheld sensors, visitors to the Beckman Institute’s upcoming open house can clamber inside the molecule, twirl it like a top, or squish it down to softball-size and hurl it against the wall.

A man operates a virtual reality simulator to manipulate DNA. Outfitted with virtual reality goggles and handheld sensors, visitors to the Beckman Institute Open House can engage with DNA. Credit: Mariano Spivak.

Whimsically titled "Come play with DNA," this hands-on exhibit is indicative of what visitors can expect from the Beckman Institute Open House, scheduled this year for Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Community members of all ages are invited to learn about the institute’s diverse research portfolio, which includes human health and medical imaging; clean energy and green plastics; and even artificial intelligence and insect-inspired robots.

“The goal of the open house is to introduce our community to Beckman’s research and people. We want visitors feeling comfortable in the building, engaging with scientists, and asking questions. We’re excited to show that even the most complex areas of science can be made tangible, and playful, and fun,” said Beckman Director Nadya Mason.

Guests can travel to locations throughout the building to:

  • Take a selfie with the first-ever human MRI scanner.
  • Learn how advanced medical imaging transforms cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Tour an inclusive maker space where assistive technologies are developed by and for athletes with disabilities.
  • Construct molecules from scratch with the Digital Molecule Maker.
  • Engage with molecules like DNA in virtual reality.

While activities tagged as kid-friendly are designed to fascinate young scientists, learners of all ages can partake in 30 unique exhibits.

Guests can become ultrasound technicians as they probe a replica of human tissue to reveal a secret design. They can operate a microscope to encounter insects up close and extract DNA from a strawberry. Chocolate-based ink will add flavor to a 3D-printing experiment, and the thrill of a lie-detector test will prompt participants to recognize and regulate their emotions.

Each experience brings guests one step closer to solving the science scavenger hunt, which can be completed by downloading the Beckman app or with a pen-and-paper kit that visitors will receive upon their arrival.

“Beckman was built to bring people together. Open House allows us to take this same idea and extend it beyond the bounds of campus," said Lexie Kesler, Beckman’s outreach specialist and open house coordinator. "It’s an opportunity for the local community to engage with everything that makes Beckman so special. No matter their age, interests, or experience with science, they'll have an opportunity to learn or try something new."

Interested in attending the Beckman Institute Open House? Take these steps to ensure the best possible experience:

  1. Visit the Beckman Institute Open House web page to view a full list of exhibit titles and descriptions, request accommodations, and plan for parking.
  2. Download the Beckman Institute app to view a map of the building, including directions to Beckman’s bathrooms and lactation room.

Questions? Contact Lexie Kesler at