Science enthusiasts clad with “I Love Science” buttons gathered Saturday for a day-long exploration of science in the second annual Carolina Space Symposium.
The student-led symposium joined with the UNC Science Expo hosted by the Morehead Planetarium for the first time, drawing a crowd of more than 120 in an effort to educate people on a variety of scientific fields.
“Last year was almost completely talks, but this year, we wanted to incorporate the UNC Science Expo and add more than just speeches,” said Hannah Kerner, the lead student organizer of the event.
The symposium events included five guest speakers, a weather balloon launch and a free show at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on black holes. UNC’s chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space received $2,997 from Student Congress to help fund the event.
The symposium also featured a booth at the expo, and used its central stage as a platform for the weather balloon launch.
“The weather balloon is probably the most exciting thing for us — it’s built completely by students,” Kerner said.
Students also crafted a Rube-Goldberg machine, a device that intentionally performs a simple task in a complex, extravagant way.
The machine cut the string to release the weather balloon, which made the show more entertaining, Kerner said.
The space symposium also attracted students from nearby universities, many who came to see the high-profile speakers.
David Hight, a freshman at N.C. State University, said he was excited to see David Gump, former president of Astrobotic Technology, a company that develops space resources for NASA.
“We’re switching more from government and NASA to commercial companies and we’re expanding space technology in ways that it couldn’t before — David Gump’s topic is very relevant,” Hight said.
UNC freshman Kara Thornton said she stopped by the event because she was fascinated by what was going on.
“Even though I’m not majoring in astronomy, I’m taking the class and found the whole symposium to be really interesting,” she said.
“Carolina just has so much going every day, and it’s great how much the students are on the forefront of it all.”
Kerner said she was grateful for the large crowd in attendance, especially considering that the events lasted all day.
“We will continue to hold events like this despite often meeting skepticism or indifference from the public,” she said.
She said the organization is hoping to host the 2014 Space Vision Conference, the national convention for SEDS-USA.
All campus chapters around the country meet for this weekend long conference, which is the largest student-organized and student-focused space conference in the nation.
“It’s worth all the time, all the money and all the planning if you can just move one person to believe in our cause.”
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