May 28, 2009
Nearly 3,000 parents, teachers and students from several Waco and La Vega ISD schools visited the Baylor University campus in March and April for the annual CASPER Physics Circus, produced by faculty, staff and students from Baylor and Texas State Technical College Waco.
Dubbed this year as "Who Wants to Be a Scientist," the event consisted of two main parts: an interactive theatrical play that mirrors the game show "Who Want to Be a Millionaire" and dozens of hands-on science exhibits, including a physics fun house and a Vandergraff simulator that makes a person's hair stand up when the device is touched.
"The idea is to get young students interested in science and math so they will consider them as possible career paths," said Dr. Truell Hyde, MS '80, PhD '88, vice provost for research at Baylor who has organized the event for the past nine years. "Over the past decade, the United States has produced fewer and fewer science and mathematics students which has resulted in a loss of our competitive edge. The Physics Circus is one step in the effort to reverse this trend which threatens both our national security and our economy."
The event is funded by a six-year, $11.3 million grant awarded to GEAR UP Waco (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), an established partnership between Baylor, Texas State Technical College Waco, Making Connections with Youth Count Inc., City of Waco Academy for Educational Development, and the Waco Independent School District that prepares at-risk students academically and socially for college. Baylor was the only university in Texas to receive GEAR UP funding. The $11.3 million grant, or $1.89 million per year, was the second largest award in the state, behind only the funding received by the Texas Education Agency. The Baylor grant also was the second largest award given to a U.S. university.
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