The University of Texas at Austin's Explore UT begins with thousands of school children from across the state stepping from buses to visit the biggest open house in Texas. The day ends several hours later with many of those children coming together to form a giant map of Texas for the class photo.
In between, the expected 50,000 visitors can dig into more than 400 free activities in six realms of discovery on the university's campus. There is no charge or registration to attend.
Event: Explore UT
When: Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m.5 p.m.
Where: University of Texas at Austin campus
Background and additional information: The event has helped recruit bright, talented prospective students to the university in past years. It also has inspired interest in higher education among the younger children who experience the intellectual energy, technological advances and rich natural and cultural resources of a world-class university.
Explore UT activities are organized into six realms of discovery:
Arts Adventures Embrace a culture of innovation found in the arts, architecture and communication.
Cultural Crossroads Harness the creativity and critical thinking found in business, information, education and the liberal arts.
Engineering Expeditions Chart a journey to solve global problems, expand knowledge and improve lives.
Public Service Passageway Learn how your world is enriched through the law, social work and public service.
Science Safari Experience new technologies in the sciences, and see the innovative fun in pharmacy, nursing, geosciences and more.
Longhorn Trail Discover our Longhorn community, and see firsthand the many ways The University of Texas at Austin is changing the world.
Activities give students an opportunity to make soap sculptures, see performances of "Alice in Wonderland" and Shakespeare, learn to extract and view DNA under a microscope, spot Venus in the daytime sky through a telescope, pedal a bicycle hard enough to power a radio and move robots by remote control.
Learning isn't just for students. Dozens of Texas teachers will participate in free continuing education courses, which will count toward their required professional development credit hours.
A significant recruiting aspect of Explore UT is the UT VIP program, which was begun in 2011 to provide targeted programs during Explore UT to the state's most promising prospective students. The students who are invited to participate have already been admitted to the university, and their academic qualifications suggest they will have multiple offers from high-caliber institutions.
Overall, in 2012 more than 17,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade attended Explore UT with their teachers. They represented nearly 300 schools from 114 districts throughout the state. About 95 percent of the schools were classified as Title 1, representing a significant proportion of students from low-socioeconomic-status households.
This year, the Northside Learning Tree Afterschool Program in San Antonio will set a record for schools outside of Austin by sending 27 buses of children to Explore UT.