Campus News

Driving simulator, shake table highlight Science Exploration Day

Mark Swihart speaks to Western New York high school students during last year's Science Exploration Day. Photo: Douglas Levere

By JEFFREY GUIHER

Published March 9, 2016

An adventure in science will take place next week at UB as hundreds of high school students flood the North Campus during UB’s spring break to take part in Science Exploration Day.

UB’s annual open house for promising high school science students will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. March 16 on the North Campus.

The day’s goal is to generate enthusiasm for students to pursue a science-related career.

Students can select from a wide range of experiences. There is a ceiling resembling the cosmos with a projection of stars in the “Portable Star Lab Planetarium.” A 360-degree driving simulation experience called “Tour the Motion Simulation Laboratory” teases students’ senses with visual sound effects. Another choice is the “Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Tour” in which a “shake table” demonstrates an artificial quake to test the durability of structures.

Longtime organizing committee member Rodney Doran, UB emeritus professor of science education, notes this is the event’s 30th year, with approximately 1,200 students from 48 Western New York schools – the most ever — expected to attend.

The Science Exploration Day committee is composed of science teachers and administrators from local schools and UB faculty and staff.  The presenters are all volunteers, and many are UB professors, students and staff, as well as professionals from local industries, research organizations and government agencies.

“Compared to the first few years, we now have many more lab tours,” says Doran. “In these, students actually go in small groups to research labs and see the kind of equipment and computers that are so prevalent in these modern settings. They get to ask questions of the faculty and graduate students that are their hosts.”

Thirty-four small-group presentations are on the schedule, along with six large-group presentations that are assigned to the students.  

This year's keynote speaker is Bill Owens, who will talk about “The Cold, Cold World of Cryogenics.” A senior engineering consultant for Praxair Inc., Owens will demonstrate how objects react with nitrogen and oxygen cryogenic liquids when frozen to extreme temperatures.   

For more details about the program, please visit the Science Exploration Day website.