College of Natural Sciences kicks off spring with a multitude of interactive, science-centric events

Meghan Nguyen

Whether it is a speech by a Nobel laureate or the “biggest open house in Texas”, according to the College of Natural Sciences website, the college is encouraging everyone to go out and enjoy a plethora of science events in the weeks ahead. 

The science events start off on the weekend of Feb. 17, as part of three weekends in a row of public science festivals hosted by the College of Natural Sciences. The first weekend, dubbed the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s “Family Science Days”, is a free opportunity for adults and children to explore interactive science exhibits, meet local scientists who study in a variety of fields and view live science–themed shows at the Austin Convention Center. The event typically attracts more than 3,000 attendees every year. 

“AAAS Family Science Days started at the 2004 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle,” said Emily Cloyd, project director at AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology. “This is the first time we’ve held AAAS Family Science Days in Austin and we’re looking forward to a great event.”

The second weekend, presented by UT’s Women in Engineering, consists of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and the Girl Day STEM Festival. Both events offer more than 8,000 elementary and middle school students a chance to explore careers in STEM through hands-on activities and engaging demonstrations on campus. The events are hosted by more than 150 organizations and 1,300 students, faculty and engineers.

“Girl Day is an opportunity for girls and boys to get excited about engineering and for our community members and students to teach and share their passions for STEM,” said Tricia Berry, director of the Women in Engineering program. “Girl Day programs happen across the globe and our UT-Austin event is the largest one.”

The public science festivals end Saturday, March 3 with Explore UT, the annual university science showcase. It features more than 80 exhibits, talks and demonstrations for adults and children. Students, parents, teachers and community members can engage in robust research experiences, hands–on experiments, and listen to talks by some of the nation’s top scientists, such as National Geographic geneticist Spencer Wells.    

“There’s definitely a lot to see and experience this spring,” said biochemistry freshman Ande Alcid. “By hosting these events, the College of Natural Sciences ensures that people of all ages can experience all of the awe and wonder of STEM.”