The Museum of Texas Tech University was buzzing with activity Saturday afternoon for STEAM Day, an event for the Lubbock community to interact with a variety of Tech student organizations involved in science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Alexandra Jones, a graduate student studying museum science and an intern with the museum’s education division, helped organize the event and contacted student organizations to come and showcase their work for the community to come and interact with.
The purpose of STEAM Day is to show the community that subjects considered difficult are fun and accessible, Jones said. She hopes children attending the event will take away from the event learning is fun and can also be challenging.
"And that they see themselves in these older students at Tech," Jones said. "It’s very important.”
One table featured work involving both science and art. Kathy Kelley, a Ph.D. student and researcher from Sam Houston State, presented her work analyzing the psychological similarities between major artists and scientists.
Also at this station was Hannah Percival, a fourth year Ph.D. student in fine arts music, showed her research concerning facial expressions and music.
“We’re studying how if people see a facial expression, that’s different than the music, if that confuses their ability to understand the facial expression,” Percival said.
The research also looks at whether hearing music that is the same as the facial expression helps individuals understand the emotions of others better, she said.
Percival's research is now partnered with the Tech Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research to see if music could be used to help people on the autism spectrum learn how to read facial expressions and emotions.
People were able to participate in the study by watching videos with mismatched music and facial expressions and could explain their responses to the person they saw on screen.
The Geoscience Leadership Organization was also present, allowing people to play with rocks, fossils and observe topographical maps.
“We just want to spread geoscience to all the future scientists” Bryce McElvogue, a freshman geoscience major from Houston, said.
Representing engineering was the group Red Raider Racing, a racing team through the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.
“Every year we manufacture, design and build a gas combustion vehicle, and then we race against about 130 other universities from around the world” Jesslyn Armansyah, a senior industrial engineering major from Katy, said.
The contest involves not only presenting the design and the car, but also explaining the decisions made concerning the design to a panel of judges and providing a business presentation as if the team was asking for funding, she said.
Anyone who wanted to could get in the student-designed race car and try on a helmet, a definite favorite among the younger children, Armansyah said.
One of the busiest tables was that of the Biology Lab group, who brought in a variety of live, harmless snakes for people to hold.
Mark Lee, a graduate student studying biology, said the lab group focuses on outreach and education by taking its snakes out to the public to teach them about the reptiles. More recently, group members have focused on snakes native to Texas, which most people in the area might encounter, Lee said.
“We maintain a collection of live animals for the purpose of public education events to help people get to experience snakes in a safe setting,” Lee said, "and then kind of get rid of some of those initial fears. We tell them about them, what to look for, what not to be afraid of, common misconceptions.”
People of all ages enjoyed hearing the detailed information about the reptiles and getting to hold them in a safe environment, he said.