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No Time for Vacation? You’ll Have to Fake It

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It’s that great time of year where children everywhere will be storing up anecdotes to share with the class when they return in the fall and get the inevitable question: So, kids, what did you do this summer?

Here at GT, we understand that it’s not always easy to give your kids the kind of rocket-ship adventure they’d really like to be able to share with their classmates — especially when you have scientific obligations to fulfill. But if you make use of some good marketing practices, we think you’ll find that your children will not only be more eager for that 20-hour road trip, but they’ll also be a lot better prepared for their first day of school.

What You Have to Do: Spend a week reviewing grant proposals in a windowless room in Bethesda, Md.
Where You’re Going: NIH campus
The Spin: Music camp with Francis Collins. Hey, you’ll be on the same campus with the man, he likes to play guitar — how much of a stretch is that?

What You Have to Do: Metagenomic testing for effects of nuclear waste on sea life.
Where You’re Going: With a map of Superfund sites as your guide, you’ll steer a boat a few miles out and hug the shoreline, taking samples of the most polluted waters you can find.
The Spin: It’s just like hanging out with Craig Venter on his yacht, the Sorcerer II. Only there won’t be a celebrity in a Speedo, and on your budget, “yacht” isn’t really the correct term for the vessel you’ll be using. But the kids don’t have to know that till they get there.

What You Have to Do: Take a team of undergraduates and figure out a way to build cells that do something completely new.
Where You’re Going: Eventually, you hope, to the iGEM Jamboree at MIT in November. But you’ll have to spend the summer developing a great synthetic biology tool to do it.
The Spin: Who wouldn’t get excited about a jamboree? It’ll be weeks of helping out with sample prep in the lab before your kids realize the event doesn’t happen till November, and probably doesn’t include live performances from rock bands.

What You Have to Do: Attend the American Association for Clinical Chemistry annual meeting in July.
Where You’re Going: San Diego, home of the Padres and Sea World. But you’re staying in Hotel Circle, and the kids will have to amuse themselves at the diner in the Best Western Seven Seas.
The Spin: Like you need a spin for San Diego. Your kids will be thrilled to jump in the car for this trip, and by the time they realize their hotel overlooks a major highway and a mall, you’ll already be looting the exhibit hall for swag.

What You Have to Do: Follow up on a collaboration to design better imaging technology with a partner at Howard Hughes.
Where You’re Going: Ashburn, Va. It’s just near … sorry. Not much of anything.
The Spin: “We’re spending the summer on a farm, kids!” Sure you are: Janelia Farm. Talk up the petting zoo. This far out in Virginia, your kids are bound to stumble across an animal of some kind.

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