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Bring your kids to work day: kids played with robots and computer programs in Levine Hall. Credit: Laura Francis

The very young prospective students you saw around campus Thursday may have been your professors’ kids.

Thursday was national “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” Typically, 200 to 250 Penn employees bring at least one child, according to Human Resources Director Terri Ryan.

In recognition of the day, Penn faculty and staff were invited to bring their children between the ages of nine and 15 to campus.

The University supports the day to let kids see “how many possibilities there are for jobs at Penn,” Ryan said. She added that many Penn employees — particularly those who work in labs — aren’t normally allowed to bring their children to work, but many of Penn’s departments are willing to open up the workplace by welcoming children for the day.

“HR just coordinates the day. It’s the school’s incentives and the school’s departments that are really doing the work,” Ryan said.

Accompanied by their parents children attended a range of activities, from decorating cupcakes to taking pictures in a police car and motorcycle, touring the police communication center, talking to Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush and attending the Penn Relays. Penn’s Human Resources Department organizes and oversees the day-long activities.

Children interested in science could take nutrition lessons, tour the robotics lab at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, learn about static electricity and conduct experiments with the Society of Women Engineers.

Ten-year-old Annie McDevitt accompanied her mother, Information Systems and Computing employee Chris McDevitt, to Penn. Annie said she enjoyed the day and had participated last year — some of her favorite sessions included the physics demonstration led by Penn professor Bill Berner and attending the Penn Relays.

Her mother said the day allowed her to introduce her daughter to both the workplace and the campus environment.

Penn has supported the national holiday for more than 15 years, Ryan said, but in the past, the day was only open to daughters and not to sons — it was only recently opened up to both genders.

“There have always been opportunities for boys, but there haven’t always been for girls,” Ryan said, explaining that the event was historically intended to encourage girls to get into the workplace.

Penn President Amy Gutmann said she was “very enthusiastic” about introducing children to Penn, primarily because she is “very proud of the work environment.”

She added that the day always coincides with the Penn Relays — giving the campus a “particularly electric feel.”

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