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On the morning of Tuesday, May 15th, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is hosting the 4th grade classes from three schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district for Science is Awesome Outreach Day! The participating schools are Carrboro Elementary School, Frank Porter Graham Bilingüe School, and Northside Elementary School, totaling in approximately 300 visitors for this outreach day.

The event will focus on encouraging children to consider STEM fields at a young age and to understand that careers in science are accessible to all students. We are starting this program with Title I schools in the district, thanks to funding from the Stirling Foundation. Title I schools are institutions where over 28% of the students at each of these schools qualifies for the federal free and reduced meal plans, which means their families have an income below federal poverty standards. Though not perfectly correlated, many of the students at these schools would be first-generation college students when they attend college.

There will be three concurrent activities that the students will participate in to get excited about physics and astronomy. Students will have an opportunity to watch a demonstration show of different physics concepts aligned with the NC curriculum standards (3.P.1, 4.P.1, 5.P.1, 3.P.2, 4.P.2, 3.P.3, 4.P.3), work on a hands-on maker activity creatively applying forces and motion standards in a Rube Goldberg Challenge, and judge presentations in a reverse science fair to learn about the current exciting research projects of Professors Christian Iliadis, Nicholas Law, Amy Oldenburg, and Daphne Klotsa.

After all that learning, we will have an outdoor picnic lunch at McCorkle Place quad with all the students and teachers together. Our department will then make lots of liquid nitrogen ice cream before sending them back to school, excited about science, physics, and astronomy.

This event was also featured on the UNC website.

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