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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Science Expo says you don't need a lab coat or a STEM degree to be a scientist

The UNC Science Expo packed Cameron Street as hundreds of future scientists and eager local residents gathered around white tents to learn about scientific innovation at UNC. 

The Expo is a part of the North Carolina Science Festival, a month-long celebration of sciences across the state last weekend. The annual event provides research labs on campus an opportunity to present their research, while giving the public the opportunity to learn about the research being conducted in their own backyard. 

“The UNC Science Expo is like field day, but for science nerds. As a proud, self-proclaimed nerd myself, I think it’s a wonderful celebration of science and I wish there were more throughout the year," said sophomore information science major Libby Soucaze. "There are a bunch of different booths to visit, a variety of stage performances, interactive activities, and live demonstrations."

The UNC Science Expo is organized by the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and is a signature event of the statewide North Carolina Science Festival. The Town of Chapel Hill also brings in sustainability-minded organizations from around the community to participate in the event. 

The Expo is a place where the public can engage in educational science demonstrations and learn about what scientific research is taking place at UNC. Every year the event attracts over 10,000 visitors, UNC Expo Coordinator Ross Ramsey said.

“For Morehead, the goal of the event is to show the community that science can be fun and inclusive. We're trying to inspire the next generation of scientists and science enthusiasts," Ramsey said. "We believe that, regardless of your background, science can provide an outlet for you to discover things about your world. We had a wonderful diversity of groups represented at the Expo, and that is something we hope to continue to improve upon."

Researchers and scientists from all different areas on campus came together to showcase science, technology, engineering and math. The computer science department let visitors try their hand at virtual reality and robotics demonstrations. 

The Piedmont Wildlife Center brought some of their live animals to the event. With the purpose of inciting interest in STEM among younger people, the Expo provided a unique opportunity for elementary and middle school-aged students to get a taste of what a college campus is like. 

“I wandered around and looked at the different tents and interactive stations that lined East Cameron Ave. There was so much to look at," Soucaze said. "As a former Science Olympiad competitor and coach, it brightened my day to see so much enthusiasm and energy for STEM concentrated on one small street. I finished my visit with a cherry snow cone and a seat in the audience for a lovely performance by the Tar Heel Voices." 

Saturday’s Expo promoted science education for everyone, while allowing them to see that science is fun and exciting. Events like the UNC Science Expo bring a diverse group of people together so they can celebrate science and understand just how much science impacts our lives, said senior biology major Lexie Edwards.  

“For those of us who are stuck in our labs all day, it can be easy to forget how our work impacts folks in our communities and around the world. I think bringing your research to the public and sharing it with families can really help put things into perspective” Ramsey said. 


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