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Skeletons, smashers and blowers: The kids come back to UCOP

Skeletons and food smashers and giant blowers, oh my!

These are just a few of the things that 76 children of UCOP employees enjoyed on Thursday, April 28, during national Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

Having planned the event for months, UCOP staff heroically met the challenge of entertaining, feeding and (shhh, don’t tell them) educating the kids about the many types of work their parents do at UC.

The event was kicked off by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rachael Nava, who explained the scope of the UC system in kid-friendly terms, while planning committee member Candace Jones gave out the only rule of the day: “Have fun!” They had no trouble obeying that one.

Divided into 10 groups, the kids were escorted by energetic staff volunteers to a series of activities designed specifically for their age, which ranged from 5 to 17. Created and delivered by over 50 staff members from 13 different departments, these entertaining and informative sessions dealt with topics ranging from healthy eating to negotiation skills to computer coding to anatomy. Several “Kid Ambassadors” co-facilitated select sessions with poise and humor.

Folks from the Global Food Initiative gave kids a literal taste of healthy eating by having them try various fruits and vegetables while blindfolded to avoid the childhood “ick” response. (That’s how you discover that the vegetable jicama is a lot like an apple.) Then the exciting “food smasher” animation showed how much salt, sugar and oil are in not-so-healthy foods that the kids chose for smashing. (Who knew there is sugar in pizza?) Asked why eating healthy is important for kids, Zoe answered, “Because it will help you live a long time to see the world. There is a lot to see and do and you need energy to make it happen. Eating healthy helps your eyes, helps your energy so you run faster, jump higher and play harder!”

Staff from the Nutrition Policy Institute in Agriculture and Natural Resources provided more food for thought by talking about fuel for the body. After showing how much sugar is in soda, juice and milk, they demonstrated how the body digests those simple sugars versus complex ones by dissolving first sugar cubes and white bread and then whole grain bread in water.

To help the kids bone up on anatomy, UC Health pulled a skeleton out of its hat. A full human skeleton borrowed from one of the UC medical schools fascinated a roomful of third graders, who excitedly asked questions while wielding femur bones like cavemen and holding the skull like Hamlet. After hearing that the two tiniest bones in the human body are in the inner ear, one boy innocently asked if doctors knew about that. (We had to admit that this knowledge is not a UC secret.)

In another scientific session, Environmental Health and Safety staff from Risk Services helped the kids dress like not-so-mad scientists in regulation lab coats, safety glasses and gloves while explaining the importance of the protective gear. They then performed experiments to measure chlorine levels in drinking water and take readings of radioactive materials in food and consumer products.

Communications got into the act by having senior web developers show how to code a video game using JavaScript as well as having two eighth graders produce a two-minute podcast about the day. You can listen to it here:


The media savvy of youth was on further display when the Research Grants Program Office set up a mock peer review of two proposals to educate middle schoolers about the dangers of e-cigarettes. Choosing a TV commercial over an informational booth at school, they sagely observed that they are far more likely to remember things they see on TV. Let’s hope that’s also true of live theater, given that staff from Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services used “Oscar-winning” performances and costumes to engage high school students in a mock investigation of an age discrimination case.

The Office of General Counsel instilled some wisdom in younger kids by having them play a “pass the eraser” game that caused chaos and confusion until someone explained the rules, while older kids enjoyed the mock negotiations for selling a vintage bike but not the time it took to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. (So they definitely learned something about what their parents go through at work.)

Other sessions ranged from giving kids fun exercise tips to helping high school students prepare for applying to college. But the literal topper was the Franklin building tour, with Building Services showing off the giant blowers and boilers for heating, cooling and water supply, the huge back-up generators and the cables the elevators are suspended on. Fitted out with safety goggles and earplugs, the kids learned about energy savings and other green initiatives. Saving the best for last, they were escorted to the building’s rooftop, where they raced around to take in the amazing views.

They also now have the answer to an age-old question about the workplace, How do you rise to the top?

That’s easy, the kids would tell you. You take the elevator and then climb the stairs.


Scores of UCOP staff members worked hard to make UCOP’s 2016 Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day a success, including:

Planning committee: Barbara Heilmann, Candace Jones, Elaine Bulawin, Emma Sebastian, Matthew Leet and Rebecca Stanek-Rykoff

Event staff: Paul Lechner, Berni Fitzsimmons and Beth Kellman

Escorts for the groups of kids: Bobby Cook, Candace Jones, Cathy O’Sullivan, Clare Sheridan, Darin Jensen, Davina Edwards, Deanna Geddie, Dede Bruno, Donna Collins, Elaine Bulawin, Emma Sebastian, Jennifer Chin, Kari Stewart, Karin Rice, Kelly Howard, Latha Srinivasagopalan, Raghuvir Goradia, Rebecca Stanek-Rykoff, Rosario Mendoza, Sally Gellini, Sam Davis, Sharon Howard, Susan Witt, Tracey Babbitt and Zoanne Nelson

Admissions: Michael Trevino

Building Tour: Matthew Leet

Communications: Yem Ling Fong, Larissa Branin, Jason Schupp and Vance Tran

Diversity & Engagement: Kari Stewart, Jungwon Huh and Kay Coelho

ECAS: David Lane, Judith Rosenberg, Will Mallari, Brian Warshawsky, Stephen Ross and Tim Mulshine

Global Food Initiative: Gale Sheean-Remotto, Deanna Geddie, Kelly Howard, Suzanna Martinez and Jason Park (intern)

ITS: Aymen Manai, Allan Perry

Local HR: John Blake

Motorcycle: Paul Master, Zoanne Nelson

Nutrition Policy Institute: Suzanna Martinez, Jason Park

OGC: Cheryl Marshall, Elaine Bulawin, Don Margolis, Mark Wilson, Liana Epperson, Kathleen Quenneville and Holly St. John

RGPO: Julia Arno (Lead), Lyn Dunagan, Nancy Chamberlain, Katherine Guerrero (Presenters), Amy Gee, Teresa Johnson and Susan Witt

Risk Services: Allison Hill, Veronica Nelson, Ken Smith and Karen Vecchi

UC Health: Karla Wood (CHBRP), Brandi Schmitt, Sarah Johnston from Blue Shield

OP’s event was part of a national campaign led by the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to developing innovative strategies and research-based activities in informal educational programs that empower girls and boys in all sectors of society to confront and overcome societal messages about youth so that they may reach their full potential and live fulfilling lives.

Comments ( 3 )

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  1. Matthew Leet May 10, 2016 Reply

    Such a great tradition at OP!
    Kudos to Candace, Barbara, Elaine, Emma and Rebecca!

  2. Mary Anne Rasmussen May 10, 2016 Reply

    Kudos to you all! I wanna be a kid again and come to an event like this! I’m sure they’ll all remember their experiences for the rest of their lives.

  3. Lena Zentall May 10, 2016 Reply

    Looks like it was an incredible day! Congratulations to everyone who made this happen.

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