Thomas Pradel, 3, is dressed as a budding scientist at the EXPO Day of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering. Photo by Chris Stone

Liisa Bozinovic isn’t a baseball manager, but she sounded like a Major League scout as she stood just outside Petco Park.

A toddler blows into a container of carbon dioxide gas at EXPO Day at Petco Park. Photo by Chris Stone

“Obviously, San Diego is a hotbed for STEM careers, and we need to spark that excitement early in kids,” said Bozinovic, executive director of the Biocom Institute.

How early?

Expo Day for the 10th annual San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering — which lasts through March 11 — included a pre-K zone.

“We take over a big area of Park at the Park and really get the little ones excited already,” she said.

Hands-on exhibits and engaging displays in science, technology, engineering and math extended through adult ages. (In fact, a “Think, Drink, Science” event is set Wednesday at Cutwater Spirits.)

Led by sponsor Illumina Foundation, with genomic exhibits, the free expo featured more than 130 exhibits by corporate, nonprofit and school groups.

Morning rain stopped just as the event began at 10 a.m., making possible a predicted turnout of 26,000. (The final tally, reported with scientific exactitude, was 22,476.)

“The sun’s out — that’s good,” Bozinovic said.

A young girl learns the ins and outs of snot. Photo by Chris Stone

Among the new attractions was the Air Force’s Rapid Strike flight simulator (the whole contraption moved, like a Disneyland ride).

The science behind healthy eating and food took up space on the Sun Deck beyond the center field fence, and several stages featured concerts and other entertainment.

Called one of the largest one-day science expos in the country, the downtown event gives way to others across the county — from Barrio Logan to San Marcos.

The schedule is at

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