Explore UT: 2016


Saturday was a beautiful spring day for this year’s Explore UT. This gigantic open house at the University of Texas seemed more crowded than usual, with throngs of middle school and high school students everywhere.


I started off with a performance by the UT Bassoon Ensemble in the lobby of the Bass Concert Hall. The full ensemble, as well as smaller combinations of players, played mostly classical pieces. A bassoon-only concert made for  unusual, but pleasing, music.


Since I was in the building, I joined a student-led tour of the huge Bass Concert Hall. One student was a Theater major, the other was a Psychology major from Beijing. We explored the 2,900-seat auditorium from top…


…to bottom. The view from the stage was rather intimidating. The acoustics were impressive. We could easily hear conservations on the stage from the upper balcony.


Behind the Bass stage was the Scene Shop, which also connected to the nearby McCullough Theatre. We admired hand-painted backdrops for an upcoming student production.


I decided to attend a lecture called Microscopic Madness: The Strange World of Quantum Physics. Professor Todd B. Krause first explained the difference between classical physics and quantum physics. Within five minutes, most students under the age 18 had left the room (except for two who remained with their parents). It was their loss. I’m pretty sure that knowing about the Stern Gerlach Experiment and the Double-slit Experiment will come in handy someday.


My next stop was the Gates Computer Science building. I watched a drone demonstration in the lobby and then headed upstairs to hear about the latest in Robocup soccer technology. The hallways were packed with onlookers, so I didn’t stay very long.


Tables for science demonstrations and children’s activities were set up all around campus. Meet the Pollinators and Pests: Bumble Bees, Honey Bees, and Aphids was a popular exhibit. Alternatives to Spanking was not.


I learned that Battle Hall was the campus library until it was moved to the UT Main Building (aka the Tower) in 1937. The Architecture and Planning Library now resides in Battle Hall.


The basement of Battle Hall is home to the Alexander Architectural Archives. The curator explained that their architectural drawings of the UT Tower were not only works of art, but they were also unusual because the architect had included exact measurements for everything, from the clock faces to ornamentation details. I enjoyed looking at the drawings with her… an excellent ending to my Explore UT day.


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