AUSTIN, Texas—In medieval times, the line between wizardry and science was a thin one. Each spring for the past seven years, the Texas Memorial Museum and The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences have teamed up with local groups to put the magic back into science on Austin Science Fun Day.
The seventh annual Austin Science Fun Day — featuring volcanoes, floods, bats, a physics and chemistry circus, animal acts and the Zilker Botanical Gardens Plant Mobile — has been set for Saturday, (March 4). The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Texas Memorial Museum, 2400 Trinity. The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the garage north of the museum.
Advanced Micro Devices, National Instruments and KXAN-TV 36 are serving as sponsors this year. Bill Oliver and the Otter Space Band will perform. The event also involves scientists from UT Austin meeting members of the public to discuss their latest discoveries and research. More than 3,000 people attended last year’s event.
Janice Anderson of the Dean’s Office in the College of Natural Sciences, who organizes the event, said “the goal of Science Fun Day is to convince the general public, but especially children, that science is accessible, meaningful, important and fun.”
She said the event has potentially long-lasting benefits beyond the fun “to society as a whole, perhaps sparking a child’s interest in a scientific career in teaching. Our evaluations show that people want more educational resources available that they can participate in with their families. It’s a bonus that it is free.”
Austin Science Fun Day involves more than 30 institutions with interests in science, including museums, research centers, state agencies, non-profits, advocacy groups and scientific societies. They are teamed with school classes to design experiments or conduct research projects.
“Participants start in the fall when school begins,” Anderson explained. “The science group matches itself with a class, or UT Austin matches them with a class. The group goes to the school and UT Austin approves the projects.” Projects must have both scientific value and entertainment value. For example,
- The Aquarena Center and Hernandez Intermediate School students will teach visitors about archeology by having them locate treasures on a grid, decorate rocks and identify archeological tools and arrowheads.
- UT Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology and Ortega Elementary School students will demonstrate rivers in action, complete with floods.
- UT Austin’s Association of Computing Machinery, an organization for students in the computer science department, and Bedichek Middle School students will help visitors produce their own web pages.
- The South Central Llama Association and the Lake Travis 4-H Llama Club will demonstrate llama behavior using real live llamas.
- The Austin Children’s Museum and Eanes Elementary School students will share their own unique inventions in hands-on demonstrations of the uses of electricity.
For additional information, contact Janice Anderson of the College of Natural Sciences at (512) 471-3285, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To arrange media opportunities, contact Brent Lyles at the Texas Memorial Museum at (512) 471-3551 or by e-mail at email@example.com.