Community Day draws 2,000 area residents to campus

Despite a discouraging weather forecast, approximately 2,000 community members trekked to the Hill yesterday for the ninth-annual Community Day at Tufts, according to Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel.

Community Day, sponsored by the Office of Community Relations and the Cities of Medford and Somerville, this year boasted nearly 40 outside community groups and 25 Tufts groups.

“The basic notion is showing the community what goes on at Tufts … flipping that over and having the community bring their work onto campus to share with the students who come,” Rubel said. “All sorts of exchange goes on between the Tufts people and the community groups that are there.”

Originally inspired by Somerville Alderman-at-Large Jack Connolly and put into action largely through the efforts of former University President Lawrence Bacow, Community Day has grown steadily since its start nearly a decade ago, according to Vice President of University Relations Mary Jeka.

“The first year we had less than 200 [people] … Last year, we had close to 2000,” Rubel said.

Fourteen student groups performed, including Blackout, Sarabande and the Amalgamates.

“This is one of my favorite gigs … it’s really one of the only events that brings in the outside community,” Amalgamates President Foster Lockwood, a junior, said.

The Center for Engineering Education and Outreach organized Lego games for kids while members of La Salsa gave dance lessons and the Tufflepuffs, Tufts’ Quiddich team, organized a match of “Kiddich,” Quidditch for kids.

Small children — as well as enthusiastic adults — enjoyed other creative activities including face painting and pumpkin and cookie decorating.

Community Day wasn’t all fun and games; faculty members set up educational, hands-on demonstrations that attracted people of all ages.

“The more people know about science and research … the more you’ll get kids interested in things that matter,” Professor of Biomedical Engineering Fiorenzo Omenetto said. Omenetto created a display that showcased the uses of silk and included actual silk worms.

The Department of Geology led a presentation about the strata of rock lying underneath the campus, while above ground, students from the School of Dental Medicine provided instruction in proper tooth brushing to kids.

Environmental organizations, including Groundwork Somerville, Medford’s Energy and Environment Office and Tufts’ Eco-Reps program, also staffed educational tables.

“We really like getting the word out about the great environmental stuff that is going on,” Alicia Hunt, Medford’s energy efficiency coordinator, told the Daily. Busy setting up a demonstration about the advantages of hybrid cars, Hunt said that her office liked “to set a good example” for the local residents.

The Tufts Eco-Reps set up a demonstration that tested the difference in taste between bottled and tap water in an attempt to prove that drinking tap water was not only better for the environment, but tasted better too, according to sophomore Katie Segal.

The Tufts University Police Department (TUPD), the Medford Fire Department, the Somerville Fire Department and other emergency services organizations took part in the day as well. TUPD offered eager kids the opportunity to climb onto their police motorcycle.

 

—Brent Yarnell and Amelie Hecht contributed reporting to this article.

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