Tying on surgical masks, sixth- and seventh-grade students at Blendon Middle School asked questions of Dr. Elizabeth Davies, also masked.

Tying on surgical masks, sixth- and seventh-grade students at Blendon Middle School asked questions of Dr. Elizabeth Davies, also masked.

The transplant surgeon from The Ohio State University showed the Westerville students how to tuck the masks beneath eyeglasses so the spectacles are neither covered nor fogged up by the wearer's breath.

"A surgeon that can't see is a bit of a problem," she said as she addressed the students during the Career Day on May 20.

Davies was one of about 78 presenters taking part in the annual "career fair," according to Career Day coordinator Jeff McMillan.

She explained that initially, surgical masks prevented doctors and nurses from being affected by anesthesia fumes, but now, closed pipes alleviate that problem. Masks are still worn so germs from the doctors and nurses are not spread to the patients.

Davies, who carried hand sanitizer in the pocket of her white surgical jacket, said handwashing also prevents the medical staff from giving patients diseases.

She said she has done "lots" of kidney transplants during the past 17 years. If all the students in the Westerville City School District were counted, she said, that is how many people die waiting on transplants.

She told students that the inside of a person's body is spectacular in its beauty.

"Fat is a bright, brilliant yellow," she said. "The spleen is purple and the pancreas is peach colored."

Davies said she first decided to become a surgeon when she cut into a frog as a high school sophomore and realized it looked nothing like what she expected.

Doctors, however, have to train and build up their stamina for long hours of treating patients. Like athletes, she said, they talk about "hitting the wall" of exhaustion.

"I can operate, but I may not be safe to drive home afterward," she said, explaining that seven partners share the workload in her medical practice.

While eighth-grade students were "shadowing" people in their career fields, the sixth- and seventh-grade students switched rooms every 20 minutes as they learned about careers ranging from astronomy and landscaping to Latin dancing and trains.

Each had a list of questions that they had to have answered by the end of the day, so they were not reluctant to pose questions of the guest speakers.

The morning started with BMX professional Zack Yankush instructing the students to "chase their passions." Ramps were set up in the gymnasium and the cyclists demonstrated midair twists and turns while maintaining control of the bikes.

In another session, Tim Hampton, of Real Adventure Hot Air Balloon Co., explained that most balloon pilots do not fly airplanes, and airplane pilots are afraid of balloons.

Hampton, who is both a pilot and instructor, said he was drawn to his career by a friend with whom he used to do whitewater rafting.

"Somebody gave him a ride as a gift and he found he got the same thrill as he did with whitewater," Hampton said.

Daily duties involve watching the weather and briefing passengers on what to expect. The advantage, he said, is having fun.

He said hot air balloons are typically safe rides because both the craft and pilot undergo an inspection process annually. Every panel and the burners must be rebuilt each year.

"It is an arduous and expensive process," he said.

The most dangerous thing that has happened to him occurred one time after he landed the balloon. A gust of wind, running ahead of a storm, swept through the area. Since Hampton was still holding onto the ropes, the hot air balloon dragged him about 200 feet through a soybean field.

He does not follow roads, so his crew chases the balloon by keeping an eye on the sky.

Landings typically occur in someone's backyard or field, he said.

"Some of the landowners are friendly and some are not," he said. "We have met a lot of fire departments and police."

People call the fire departments when they see the balloon coming down, because they think Hampton is crashing.

"Flying a balloon is not rocket science," he said, "but it does take a pilot."

Magician Carroll Baker kept students guessing as to what he might do next. Baker was amused by the fact that the students were not always impressed by his ability to "read minds" because he knew which card a person would pick before it was chosen.

The students were stunned, however, when his name tag went from bearing his name to saying the "9 of hearts" with a sleight of hand.

Baker told the students he knew he wanted to be a magician when at the age of 6, he followed Harry Blackstone Jr. around Children's Hospital as the entertainer kept the youngsters preoccupied with magic.