University Plants Seeds of Science at Dallas Arboretum for Earth Day

Science at the Arboretum with Dr. John Hoffman

Physics professor Dr. John Hoffman (right) and physics department head Dr. Robert Glosser engaged children in several fun physics experiments at the Dallas Arboretum in 2014.

More than 50 faculty and students from the UT Dallas School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics will be cultivating budding scientists this month when they present dozens of activities for children at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

In celebration of Earth Day, the Dallas Arboretum’s Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden partnered with the University to stage science and mathematics activities for K-12 students from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the garden. Each activity is run by a different UT Dallas group or an external collaborator.

Attendees can flit among discussions and hands-on activities related to geology, chemistry, marine life, mathematics, space, physics and more. Children will also get to make their own ladybug necklace and plantable paper.

Dr. Bernine Khan, assistant dean in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, coordinated the event with the Dallas Arboretum and recruited the presenters.

Science at the Arboretum

Children visiting the Dallas Arboretum in 2014 learned about the importance of ladybugs in the garden from master teachers and students in the UTeach Dallas program, which trains UT Dallas students to be science and math teachers.

“We had such an amazing time doing a similar event last year during the first full year of the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, so we wanted to expand on that to offer more science learning this time around,” Khan said. “It works well to tie it into Earth Day because the garden is the perfect place to learn about science, nature, the Earth and habitats. The more children and adults learn about these topics, the more likely they will care for the planet.”

UT Dallas student groups play a key role in this and other science outreach events throughout the year, Khan said. The Chemistry Student Association, the GeoClub, the Society of Physics Students and the Space Exploration Society are among the student organizations expected to take part at the arboretum. Faculty from the departments of biological sciences, physics, and science and math education also will participate. Representatives from UTeach Dallas, an academic program at the University that trains science and math teachers, will also be on hand.

In addition, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has partnered with Hillcrest High School’s robotics engineering organization, which will demonstrate activities in renewable energy and robotics.

Activities and discussions at the event will include:

  • Observations of the microscopic world of nature
  • The geology of rocks, minerals and plate tectonics
  • Mathematics of fractals
  • A circus of physics demonstrations
  • An exploration of the sun
  • Fun static electricity experiments
  • The wonder of whales — what they eat and how they survive cold habitats
  • Robotics, renewable energy and chemistry experiments

“In addition to academics and research, community outreach is such an important part of what our students, staff and faculty volunteer to do,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Events at the Dallas Arboretum, area museums and other public facilities offer wonderful opportunities to interact with young people and the community, to share our knowledge and our enthusiasm for science and mathematics. Plus, they’re just fun and we enjoy ourselves just as much as the kids.”

If there is inclement weather, the event will be canceled. For information about the Dallas Arboretum, the Children’s Adventure Garden and admission costs, visit or call 214-515-6500.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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