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Science Super Heroes

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Mindful of the popularity of trading cards of baseball players, television characters, and comic-book heroes, an enterprising science institution in Oregon is hoping to use the craze to interest youngsters in careers in science.

The Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology, near Portland, has issued a unique series of trading cards featuring the school's science professors.

A total of 12 cards in sets of three have been printed so far. Each card features a photo of a professor along with vital statistics, including his or her specialty, sources of research funding, and, yes, the professor's hobbies.

"It convinces people that science is a profession that semi-normal people go into,'' says James Hurst, a chemistry professor whose card features his pet Labrador retriever Winston, who is the campus mascot.

Originally created as a marketing ploy for the school, the cards are gaining an audience nationwide. Fellow professors, high-school teachers, parents, and students as young as age 9 have asked for the cards, which are not sold at the local five-and-dime. The series will continue next year, with a new lineup of organic chemists and electrical engineers.

But then, as now, bubblegum and thermonuclear fission devices will not be included with the cards.

Free cards may be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope with $0.87 in postage to Bob Applegate, Office of Public Affairs, Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology, 19600 Northwest Von Neumann Dr., Beaverton, Ore. 97006-1999.--S.K.G.

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