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Exploring Your Universe experiment

Free public festival at UCLA offers science exploration for all ages, Nov. 3

Actor Mayim Bialik, a UCLA alumna, will be on hand to receive an award from the UCLA College division of physical sciences.
October 24, 2019
Exploring Your Universe experiment

UCLA’s Exploring Your Universe science festival will return for its 11th year on Sunday, Nov. 3. The free event offers presentations and dozens of hands-on demonstrations that give explorers of all ages the chance to learn about science.

The event will take place at the UCLA Court of Sciences (map) from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. As part of UCLA’s year-long centennial celebration, Exploring Your Universe has expanded to include 60 activities, more than ever before.

“We’re excited for the many first-time booths this year, including Explore Mars, which features a robot and Martian surface simulator; and a mad scientist escape room, where participants must solve chemistry puzzles to get out,” said Abijah Simon, a UCLA graduate student and a member of the event’s organizing committee.

The featured guest will be actor Mayim Bialik, costar of the hit series “The Big Bang Theory,” who is receiving the third annual Science and Education Pioneer Award. Presented by the UCLA College division of physical sciences, the honor is in recognition of Bialik’s role as a tireless communicator in support of scientific inquiry and discovery. The award presentation is scheduled to kick off the event at noon.

“As a neuroscientist who has played a scientist for the past decade on television and as a mom, I’m incredibly enthusiastic about encouraging children to explore the wonderful world of science,” said Bialik, who earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2000 and a doctorate in 2007, both from UCLA.

Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the division of physical sciences, said, “We are thrilled to be putting the spotlight on Mayim, a UCLA alumna who has had a substantial impact both as a neuroscientist and as a science storyteller who has helped us recognize that science moves forward thanks to many contributions made by women.”

Among the many other activities, faculty, graduate students and undergraduates representing more than 20 departments and organizations at UCLA will lead visitors through an array of experiments, covering subjects ranging from astronomy and geology to genetics and physics.

“Future scientists and curious visitors of all ages will be able to touch meteorites, get DNA from strawberries, launch rockets, make lava lamps, examine our sun through solar telescopes, create a tornado in a bottle, learn about missions to Mars and much more,” said Jon Zink, a UCLA graduate student and another member of the event organizing committee.

Scientists will give engaging 30-minute talks throughout the day on subjects like the search for other life in the universe, and what really happens when we discard waste. All presentations will be targeted to general audiences of all ages.

Beginning at 12:30 p.m., the UCLA Planetarium will host half-hour shows about the night sky, constellations and astronomical phenomena. Tickets for the planetarium shows are free but must be reserved at beginning at 12 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Exploring Your Universe began in 2009 and has become one of UCLA’s biggest annual events, drawing thousands of guests each year. Visitor parking is $13 in UCLA lots 2 (map) and 9 (map). Click here for driving directions and parking details, or visit the Metro website for information about bus and rail routes to UCLA.

The event is supported by UCLA’s division of physical sciences; the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics; the UCLA Galactic Center Group; the department of physics and astronomy; the department of Earth, planetary and space sciences; and the department of chemistry and biochemistry.