HPU Hosts Annual HPUniverse Day for Kids and Their Families

The previously scheduled event for Sept. 28 has been moved to Nov. 2.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 23, 2019 – High Point University’s annual HPUniverse Day is a chance for kids and their families to explore science through an astronomy-themed outreach event.

The free event, hosted by HPU’s physics department, will be held, rain or shine, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 in the new Wanek School of Natural Sciences building. The event has been rescheduled from Sept. 28 to Nov. 2 in order for families to enjoy the exciting new speaker.

HPU will welcome Dr. Benita Bell, a research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, to this year’s HPUniverse Day held on Nov. 2.

Special guest speaker Dr. Benita Bell, a research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will participate in TED-style talks and be available for photos with families. Bell was awarded a NASA Administrator’s Fellowship position where she served as a NASA Fellow in the Office of Biological and Physical Research at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. There she developed a pilot clinical research study on soy isoflavones and their role in immunity and heart disease. 

“We are thrilled Dr. Bell will join us to speak at HPUniverse Day,” says Dr. Briana Fiser, associate professor and chair of physics. “I know her experience at NASA and her passion for science education will make her talk a must-see for everyone.”

Attendees will also experience 25 different learning stations and activities. Past stations have included activities and sights like robotic space rovers, astronomy jeopardy, gravity gym, experiments in the HPU mobile lab, hovercraft rides and much more. This year, new activities include parachute drops and planetarium shows held in the new Culp Planetarium.

“We are so excited to be able to add planetarium shows to the event this year,” says Dr. Brad Barlow, director of the Culp Planetarium and associate professor of astrophysics. “Given the large number of people expected, we will likely run a series of short back-to-back demo shows to give everyone a chance to briefly experience the full power of our state-of-the-art facility. These shows will consist of clips from our collection of full-dome science documentaries as well as ‘What’s Up Tonight?’ presentations.”

The “What’s Up Tonight?” show entails faculty and students taking viewers on a tour of constellations, stars and planets visible at the time from viewers’ location in High Point. The full-dome documentaries bear titles such as, “Birth of Planet Earth,” “The Other Side of Infinity—Black Holes,” “Faster than Light” and “Fantastic Fractals,” to name a few.

Children will receive an HPU passport book to get stamped at each station. If they receive enough stamps, they will have the opportunity to collect a space-themed prize before leaving. Pizza and water will be available for purchase.

“This is the sixth year we’ve hosted HPUniverse Day,” says Barlow. “Last year, we had around 600 people in attendance. Since its inception, nearly 4,000 visitors from the Triad have experienced HPUniverse Day. The event has also become a major attractor for alumni to come back and visit with us, which is always nice to see.”

Parking will be held behind the Congdon School of Health Sciences and the Wanek School of Natural Sciences. Attendees should enter campus at International Avenue from North Centennial Street.

More about Dr. Benita Bell

Dr. Benita Bell received her doctoral degree in nutrition and chemistry from Howard University. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are also in chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina A&T State University. Bell has taught chemistry at Howard University in the School of Allied Health Sciences, North Carolina Central University and Bennett College where she was an associate professor of chemistry and the director of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program.

She was awarded a NASA Administrator’s Fellowship position where she served as a NASA Fellow in the Office of Biological and Physical Research at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. There she developed a pilot clinical research study on soy isoflavones and their role in immunity and heart disease. Bell has also had corporate experience working with Johnson and Johnson and Smithkline in the medical and pharmaceutical sales industry. She has received numerous honors and awards, a few of which include the recipient of the Board of Trustees Faculty Teaching Excellence Award and the Division of Higher Education Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award. Bell is currently working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with the Minority University Space Interdisciplinary Network (MUSPIN) in the area of Astrobiology. She is the co-director of the Minority Institution Astrobiology Collaborative (MIAC). Her research interests are in the areas of astrobiology, science education and women’s health. She joined GESTAR in May 2011.

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