HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 4, 2017 – Floating down the corridor of Couch Hall, 8-year-old Ethan Nguyen enjoyed a ride on a hovercraft assembled by High Point University physics majors. “How does this actually work?” Nguyen asked, modeling the curiosity that over 1,000 children expressed during HPU’s fourth annual HPUniverse Day.
On Sept. 30, the free event that was hosted by the HPU Department of Physics welcomed members of the High Point community to campus for family-friendly, educational astronomy activities.
Children of all ages were encouraged to explore topics in astronomy and physics through 20 different learning stations and exercises led by HPU student volunteers and professors. This year’s activities included hovercraft rides, face painting, a cosmic tour through time, rocket launching, comet making, infrared cameras, super slow motion cameras, crater making, telescope observing, a meet-and-greet with the HPU High Power Rocketry Team, and much more.
“Most children show an innate curiosity for all things space-related, but they don’t frequently have a chance to explore scientific principles through hands-on apparatuses, which can be quite expensive,” said Dr. Brad Barlow, assistant professor of astrophysics at HPU. “Our goal with this event is to expose Triad families to science in ways they might not have seen before. If even a single child walked away from our event with a newfound love of science, then the entire event and all the effort that went into was well worth it.”
Avid, young science lovers like 7-year-old Desire Cruz sat next to the statue of Albert Einstein on HPU’s International Promenade after launching rockets into the air and looking through a telescope pointed to the sky.
Inside Couch Hall, Lilly Moreno, age 7, took a walk on Mars with the help of simulation goggles.
“It was so cool,” she said. “I didn’t see any aliens, but it was cool. I’m going to launch a rocket next!”
“Aside from the visible impact we had on kids, the most rewarding aspect of the event was the unity our volunteers showed,” said Barlow. “HPUniverse Day saw 70 HPU faculty members and students put in a total of more than 500 volunteer hours to plan and execute the event. The collective sense of purpose our volunteers showed was truly awe-inspiring and uplifting.”