U’s Science Day recruits high schoolers

The U wants more students to major in science-even if it means they have to lecture high school students about it on the weekend.

Hundreds of parents and students from as far away as Missouri came to the U last weekend to learn about science degrees offered on campus. The effort, led by the College of Science and College of Mines and Earth Sciences, is meant to motivate graduating seniors to consider majoring in science-related fields. For 19 years, the college has arranged for high school students and their parents to have a day on campus.

Compared to other colleges, the College of Mines and Earth Sciences is behind in freshman enrollment. In a Fall 2007 census taken by the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis, the number of students seeking science or mines and earth science degrees is less than half that of business, fine arts or humanities degrees.

“We are the largest recruiting event on campus because we need more science majors-they are the future,” said Glenda Woods, administrative manager for the College of Science. “These professors are showing high school students why they should study science at the U and what you can do with that degree.”

Volunteers from the U gave up their Saturday to spend time with the high school students.

Students began the day with a reception and opening talk and were offered a free lunch in the Union. U students majoring in science-related degrees then walked groups of students to classrooms on campus where various professors discussed the benefits of their particular field of science.

“Our goal is to get students in rural areas interested in what the U is about and curious about science,” Woods said.

Professors talked about the importance of science-related careers.

“It’s hard to tell what will tip off students” said Mark Hale, an earthquake information specialist and U alumnus, in a lecture about seismology. “When I was a kid, I thought the idea of surface waves rolling across the ground was really cool.” High school students and their parents went to three different sessions in the afternoon, learning about earthquakes, biomedical engineering and many other diverse subjects.

Some students mimicked their college counterparts by texting in class and, at times, falling asleep. Others asked complex questions about advancements in science and what the U offers to students.

One student, Mercadeez Sweat-Latimer from Itineris High School asked about new uses for metals in biomedical engineering when attending a lecture given by Ravi Chandran, a U professor in metallurgical engineering.

“I learned a lot by going in there about what I want to major in and do in the future,” Sweat-Latimer said.

However, other high school students weren’t as impressed by the U’s Science Day. When attending Hale’s lecture on seismology, Jesse Earl, a student from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Ogden, left feeling somewhat let down.

“It wasn’t what I expected-they talked about earthquakes in general and seismology, but I was hoping to hear about the super earthquake that is expected,” he said.

Woods was surprised by the turnout this year.

“We did pretty good last year, but today, we’re at full capacity with 535 students and 153 parents who actually showed,” she said.

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