Science day at University of Utah a real rush

Nov 11 2013 - 10:42am


Megan Ames (right), of South Sevier High School in Monroe, visits a geology booth staffed by professors David Dinter (left) and Tony Ekdale on Science Day at the University of Utah on Nov. 2. (KARISSA WANG/NUAMES/
Megan Ames (right), of South Sevier High School in Monroe, visits a geology booth staffed by professors David Dinter (left) and Tony Ekdale on Science Day at the University of Utah on Nov. 2. (KARISSA WANG/NUAMES/

Imagine a crowded room filled with hundreds of chattering teens wandering around, collecting ideas and waiting anxiously for the learning to start.

A row of red booths lines the side of the room, manned by college professors handing out pamphlets and showing off funky gadgets. Across the large building, a man stands at a tall podium and adjusts his microphone. Immediately, the background noise dies down.

The excitement is visible on every student's face as they project their undivided attention on this man. He begins speaking, and thus Science Day begins.

It's every science fanatic's dream, really. I mean, c'mon, free food, easy-to-apply-for scholarships, and a variety of hands-on workshops taught by experienced individuals?

Science Day at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City had it all. After 25 years of doing this, they've perfected the event. This U of U attraction gathered more than 900 high schoolers, parents and teachers from all over the area into the Union Ballroom on Nov. 2.

Earlier, each student signed up online for three classes they wished to attend. When they arrived at the U of U campus, they received their schedule and were let loose to roam around and explore the options.

High schoolers gathered with their friends and collected cool toys from the booths including USB flashdrive bracelets, expandable water bottles and free ear buds.

At a booth sponsored by the Natural History Museum of Utah, visitors were allowed to hold cockroaches and beetles, and each student was given a free admission pass to visit the museum. Professors of the College of Science gave students advice about which classes to take, what sorts of jobs they could get, and possibilities they should explore. At the Department of Geology booth, various interesting pieces were on display including a preserved Allosaurus backbone segment, a hunk of coral resembling a human brain and crystals.

After a brief address and presentation, attendees were on off to their selected classes. Volunteers with colorful balloons led the way to each building to make certain no one got lost on the ginormous college campus.

Three hours of workshops ensured students had their brains filled to the brim with new knowledge. Exhausted kids headed back to the Union Building to snatch a lunch of sandwiches, chips and sodas, courtesy of the university. Parents were invited to attend an optional workshop about preparing their students for college and applying for scholarships.

To conclude the event, $500 scholarships were given to students who were lucky enough to have their name drawn. The only requirements to be included in the drawing were to sign up for Science Day, attend, and fill out a card with contact information. Six fortunate students left with those scholarship prizes.

A gift bag filled with posters, candy and various science goodies was awarded to NUAMES for having the most attendees out of all the schools. By filling out a survey about their experiences at Science Day, students will have yet another chance to win a prize -- a brand new Microsoft Surface Tablet.

For those who wished to familiarize themselves with the university environment, optional tours of the college campus were available after the workshops.

"We were shown lots of different landmarks and departments," said McKenna Delton, a sophomore at NUAMES. "It's provoked an interest in me: I'm defnitely considering going to the U now."

Overall, the University of Utah Science Day was a popular, fun-filled event -- a must-go for any science or math nerd hoping to have their mind crammed full of educational facts and learn of educational opportunities the U offers.

Karissa Wang is a sophomore at NUAMES. She enjoys swimming and has a constant craving for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Email her at


A glimpse of workshops offered at Science Day

  • Human Anatomy: Students were shown and allowed to hold human hearts, lungs, stomachs and small intestines as they were taught about the different body systems and their functions. Highlights were unraveling the small intestines to see how long they really are and examining human hearts to find abnormalities.
  • The Science of Death and Mayhem: A professional coroner gave a presentation complete with gory pictures of dead bodies from forensic cases. Students learned how demolished bodies are identified.
  • Varying Genomes: Differences in genetic makeup and their affect on physical appearance were discussed.
  • Hotel Infinity: Conceptual mathematics came into play as students were introduced to an idea first presented to the world by David Huber in the 1900s. Students left this class with their minds spinning and thinking about infinity.
  • Zapping Crystals with Lasers: Lasers were used to show the structure of crystals and measure the spacing between atoms.
  • Can Ants do Calculus?: Students learned about ant colonies and the precious balance required to maintain them. Leaders of the workshop used math models to show that things benefiting an individual may not benefit the entire colony.
  • Astronomy at the Observatory: Attendees learned about the structure of telescopes and how to use them properly.

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