MilliporeSigma introduced its new mobile science display, which will travel to schools and fairs. Photo by Chris Stone

Hoping to engage more than 300,000 people in a nationwide tour, a German-based biotech Saturday unveiled its Curiosity Cube science lab at Petco Park in one of the nation’s largest science expos.

General Atomics representatives Rigo Brambila (left) and Alex Negy demonstrate that when weight is distributed a certain way, a bed of nails doesn’t cause injury. Photo by Chris Stone

Petco was the first stop on the 12-month tour of the cube, a hands-on lab housed in a 22-by-10-foot shipping container retrofitted by MilliporeSigma, the North American arm of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Called the Biocom Institute Festival of Science and Engineering Expo Day, Saturday’s event drew 26,143 people — the largest crowd ever for the one-day expo, organizers said. Last year, just more than 24,000 attended.

The cube was among the more than 130 demonstrations and exhibits at the ninth annual festival featuring interactive, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) exhibits.

Expo Day kicks off the 10-day festival presented by Illumina Foundation, with more than 70,000 expected to attend events throughout San Diego County from March 4 to 12.

Children and adults take a close look at a Rosy Boa. Photo by Chris Stone

The Curiosity Cube — with demonstrations in DNA, microorganisms and inner workings of the brain — will be taken to 24 cities by MilliporeSigma, which offers gene therapy, viral vaccine and immunotherapy products. It opened a Carlsbad facility last year.

“We want to inspire curiosity in the next generation of scientists,” said Daniel Sherling of MilliporeSigma. “Our goal is engaging as many people as possible.”

Indeed, finding the next generation of scientists — what Liisa Bozinovic, executive director of Biocom Institute, calls “workforce development” — is key.

And that’s what the festival is aimed at: getting kids excited about STEM.

“This is a way for them to see how fun, exciting and interesting it is,” Bozinovic said.

The Expo featured animals, (safe) explosions, volcanoes, genetics, biology and technology.

Among the highlights was a chance to meet actors from the new “Power Rangers” movie.

Naomi Scott (“Pink Ranger”), Ludi Lin (“Black Ranger”) and Dacre Montgomery (“Red Ranger”) were set to pose for photos ahead of Lionsgate studios’ reboot of “Saban’s Power Rangers,” which opens nationwide March 24.

The festival continues Sunday and runs through Saturday at venues including Reuben Fleet Science Center, Birch Aquarium, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Wavelength Brewing Co., libraries and schools.

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