50,000 Visit Campus for Explore UT

Nearly 500 school buses unloaded on the Forty Acres this Saturday for Explore UT. An estimated 50,000 visitors—mostly elementary and secondary students, but also families and adults—attended the 15th-annual event, billed as “the biggest open house in Texas.”

The sheer scale of the event is mind-boggling: more than 400 events and activities of all kinds took place throughout the day, and all were free to guests. Among our favorites:

  • An interactive negotiation lesson for kids sponsored by the UT Global Ethics and Conflict Resolution Summer Symposium;
  • An open practice with the football team;
  • A performance of the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland with a literature class;
  • Homemade Russian food samples;
  • A keynote speech by Sarah Martinez Tucker, BJ ’76, MBA ’79, Life Member, former U.S. undersecretary of education;
  • Hogwarts Jungle Potion class at the College of Pharmacy;
  • At the School of Nursing, the opportunity to try on an “empathy belly” to simulate what pregnancy feels like;
  • A crash course in Arabic;
  • and a chemical engineering and chemistry show featuring “flames of all colors and sizes.”

Hundreds of UT students, faculty, and staff volunteered to host the activities and promote almost every department and program at the University. And schoolteachers, administrators, and parent volunteers made the trek to Austin from all parts of the state.

“We had students from Zapata to Tyler and all points in between,” says Doug Bollin, artistic director in the University Events office. “And 72 percent of the schools that visited are Title I or disadvantaged schools. We’re just trying to show everyone that UT is open to them and it’s Texas’ university.”

Since this year’s Explore UT happened to coincide with Texas Independence Day, the day’s celebrations also included rolling out Alpha Phi Omega’s giant Texas flag.

Photos by Zen Ren.

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