HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 3, 2016 – Donarius Goldring listened as High Point University student volunteers explained how air pressure can send a plastic bottle launching into the sky. Then he put his hands on a pump, pressed down a few times, heard a loud pop and watched science come to life.
“It flies up so high,” Goldring said after his bottle soared up to nearly 100 feet. “I learned how the air and the pressure build up to make that happen.”
Goldring and his family were among the nearly 1,000 people who attended the third annual HPUniverse Day on Sept. 30, a free event hosted by the Department of Physics. For the third year in a row, it has welcomed children and their parents to campus for activities focused on science, astronomy, space exploration and more.
Zina Smith brought her three sons – Kyle, James and Kaleb – to the event. The family has attended all three years.
“This is educational,” Smith, of High Point, said. “It helps them see what they’re interests are like and if they like astronomy and looking through the telescope. Since they enjoyed it last year, we came back this year and made sure we arrived early so we could see everything.”
Keirstyn Parker, a classmate of Goldring’s at Allen Jay Preparatory Academy, came to the event with her mom because being a scientist is at the top of her list of things she wants be when she grows up.
“I want to get my doctorate so I can do a lot of things, like be a scientist or a lawyer,” she said. “This event is really cool and you learn a lot.”
Giving children the opportunity to enjoy science but also consider it as a field of work someday is part of the event’s goal, according to lead organizer Dr. Brad Barlow, assistant professor of astrophysics.
“I think the number of attendees speaks volumes about the innate curiosity everyone has about space and the universe as a whole,” Barlow says. “From my perspective, if even a single child discovers a newfound love of science because of HPUniverse Day, the entire event was worth it!”
Barlow has seen HPU graduates carve out impressive career paths in science fields, including 2012 graduate Laura Lee. For the past three years, Lee has returned to campus to volunteer at HPUniverse Day.
“I have really fond memories of the Department of Physics,” says Lee, a Charlotte native who’s studying toward her Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University. “Dr. Aaron Titus [of the department] helped me get my first internship, and it was a lovely atmosphere to be part of. I’m happy to come back and be part of it again.”