HESTEC Community Day to offer more exhibits and activities for families
Posted: 09/29/2009
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Thousands are expected to flock to The University of Texas-Pan American Saturday, Oct. 3 for the annual Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) Community Day, which heads into its eighth year as one of South Texas' most popular family festivals celebrating technology and the sciences.

Pictured is the crowd at HESTEC 2008 Community Day.

This year's theme, "GreenNovation: Footprints to the Future," emphasizes the global topic of the environment according to HESTEC organizers.

H-E-B, the City of Edinburg and the National Science Foundation are sponsoring this free event that is open to the public. The annual UTPA festival will be held throughout the campus beginning at 4 p.m. People from all segments of the community will be able to enjoy thrilling science exhibits brought in by corporate sponsors like NASA, Raytheon, Proctor and Gamble, State Farm and others.

According to organizers, more interactive displays will be available during Community Day this year than in the past, which should make HESTEC 2009 even more appealing to the public.

"HESTEC Community Day has more exhibits this year and is going to be a major celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Milly Hernandez, special projects coordinator for Community Engagement. "Students, parents, educators and other members of the community will be exposed to tools and resources needed to create cultural awareness that values diversity in these areas."

Among the attractions coming to HESTEC is "Space: A Journey to our Future." This extraordinary exhibit gives audiences of all ages an opportunity to experience past explorations and the future destiny in space. The display uses immersive scenic elements, advanced interactive activities and state-of-the-art projection and audio technology to bring the story of space exploration to life.

Festival de Quimica, an outdoor bilingual community outreach event, is expected to attract hundreds of children and their parents with Spanish presentations featuring several hands-on, fun chemistry experiments, from making glitter slime to candy clouds.

Making its first appearance in Texas and debuting this year at HESTEC is "FutureLab," a unique traveling expo on science and technology that celebrates innovation today and what may come in the future. The show explores four areas: Deep Space, Life Sciences, Robo Tech and Nano Tech.

"They heard about us through the Internet and contacted us about participating in HESTEC," said Hernandez. "We are very excited to have them be a part of our activities and have their interactive exhibit join in the efforts of making STEM careers interesting and exciting for students."

Also paying a visit to HESTEC will be TERRI the Robot. The fully integrated robotic device is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project that helps make science education fun. Terri can tell stories, perform interactive skits, lead karaoke and just talk to those around it.

NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez will make an appearance at HESTEC 2009 Community Day Oct. 3.
Community Day will also offer the public an opportunity to interact and hear from NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, who went from working in the fields as a child to orbiting in space this past August. Fresh from his mission on the Space Shuttle Discovery, Hernandez, one of a dozen Hispanic astronauts, will be on-hand to motivate youngsters with the story of his journey into space.

In addition, the cast of the popular PBS reality television show "Design Squad" is also coming to HESTEC. The program follows teens between the ages of 16 and 19 as they take on engineering challenges by designing, building and testing whimsical machines and innovative products for real clients with the winner taking the top prize, a $10,000 college scholarship.

Other attractions include the NASA Dome, Navy Flight Simulator, UTPA's H-E-B Planetarium, a digital light show and entertainment that will include local acts leading up to the concert headliner Angel y Khriz, a well-known Puerto Rican reggaeton duo who have performed during the Latin Billboard Awards ceremony. UTPA student organizations will also be selling a variety of foods and refreshments.

Since its inception in 2001, HESTEC has evolved into a signature event nationally in promoting and celebrating careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The program was created by UTPA, in conjunction with Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), to help increase the number of Hispanics entering STEM fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The weeklong series of activities bring in middle and high school students from throughout South Texas for hands-on learning experiences and corporate sponsors for teacher training and recruitment opportunities for college students.

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