- February 23, 2016

Explore UT: Biggest Open House in Texas


Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 12.08.27 PMHave you ever wanted to create your own hover craft, sample ice cream made from liquid nitrogen, or launch a rocket into space? If so, Explore UT is for you!  On Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Austin families are invited to enjoy a day of hands-on educational fun at the University of Texas at Austin’s annual open house, Explore UT. Bring your future Longhorns out to explore the UT campus, while taking part in hundreds of activities that promote higher education. Students in grades K-12 will be encouraged to participate in various activities, no registration required. Admission is FREE and Explore UT is open to the public.

You can find the full schedule of Explore UT activities here, or you can download the 37-page program here.

Explore UT

A sampling of hands-on activities:

Find more information on any of these activities by searching the Explore UT online scheduling tool!

  • 3D Mask Making (for teens) – Create an impressive 3D mask of an alien, a cat, a skull, Batman, or a dragon. You’ll discover that what looks complex and multi-dimensional can be simple to make. Each mask takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Space is limited.
  • Anatomy Juan (all ages) – Learn about Human Anatomy with Juan, a life-size replica of a person. His organs are easily removed, but tricky to place back correctly. Come see if you can help Juan and the Hispanic Health Professions Organization to get his organs back in place again.
  • Art in Science (all ages) – Join students in Club Outreach to explore the art in science through several fun activities. You can create a lava lamp, make colorful slime, examine unique optical illusions or watch the rhythmic effects of sound on milk.
  • Back to the Future: Engineering Hover Crafts (kids under 12) – Join students from the Society of Women Engineers for a back to the future experience by experimenting with the science and engineering of magnetics and aerodynamics to design and create your very own hover craft.
  • Balloon Rocket Racers (all ages) – Have you ever dreamed of flying a rocket into space? Join members of Sigma Gamma Tau Aerospace Engineering Honor Society to engineer and build a balloon rocket that you can enter in a race to the moon. Test your skills and become a rocket engineer for a day.
  • Become a Doggy Doctor for a Day (all ages)- If you’ve ever wondered how fast a dog’s heart beats, join the Pre-Veterinary Student Association to hear the dog’s heart beat by using a stethoscope. Learn more about veterinary medicine and become a doggy doctor for a day.
  • Build the Ultimate Boomerang (all ages)- Join student members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics to test your skills in engineering the ultimate boomerang. Choose a design, build your own boomerang, and enter it into a competition with others. Space is limited.
  • Catapult the Gummy Bear (kids under 12)- Explore engineering with members of Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity. Create a catapult using rubber bands, craft sticks and spoons. Test it to see if your gummy bear’s flight distance qualifies you for the Gummy Bear Catapult Hall of Fame.
  • Create Your Own Clouds in a Bottle (kids under 12)- Discover which state of matter creates a cloud by using a bottle, rubbing alcohol, and the pressure of gases to create your own cloud. After pondering clouds, use Google 3-D visualization to walk on Mars or peer into a bottle terrarium.
  • Creative Re-Use: Build an Eco-Friendly Birdhouse (all ages)- Visit the Architectural Materials Lab and reuse materials to create an eco-friendly birdhouse. Each session is limited to 20 participants. Tickets to be distributed in GOL North Lobby 30 minutes prior to each session; first-come, first-served basis.
  • Earthquake Engineering Research: Protecting People and Property from What’s Shaking (kids under 12)- Design a building using toothpicks and marshmallows and test it in earthquake conditions. Visit with students of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute to learn how earthquake engineering research protects people and property from earthquakes.
  • EGaDS: The Electronic Game Developers Society (all ages)- Join student members of EGaDS, the electronic and video game developers society, to learn what it takes to create a video game and to take a look at games that have already been developed.
  • Explore TACC’s High-Tech Playground for all Ages (all ages)- Visit the Texas Advanced Computing Center to save earth using a giant touch-screen, enter virtual reality with the Oculus Rift, explore simulations from natural disasters to outer space, interact with researchers and learn why supercomputers are awesome.
  • Find Gold (kids under 12)- Old timers found gold in ordinary-looking stream deposits. The trick is density. Try your hand at panning our pyrite-spiked load and take your find home with you. Limited to 15 people at a time.
  • Frozen Chemistry: The Chilling Effect of Liquid Nitrogen (all ages)- Join graduate students in the Korgel Research Group to learn about chemical engineering and the chilling effects of liquid nitrogen. Sample liquid nitrogen ice cream and observe flowers, bananas, a racquetball and filled balloons being frozen.
  • Glowing Dough Creatures (all ages)- Join student members of Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering to light up the room with electrifying play dough creations. Learning about electricity and circuits using light emitting diodes (LEDs) and play dough to create unique creatures.
  • Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream (all ages)- Join students in the American Chemical Society to share some sweet science and concoct a nifty treat. You can sample ice cream made with liquid nitrogen to sweeten your Explore UT experience.
  • Building a Longhorn Rocket (all ages)- Join Longhorn Rocketry Association members to learn how to assemble model rocket kits. Space is limited, tickets are required. Tickets for the session will be distributed fifteen minutes prior to the start of each session.
  • Polymer Slime and the Human Body (8-11 years old)- Learn how biomedical engineers design biomaterials designed for compatibility with the human body. Society for Biomaterials students will demonstrate how you can change the properties of materials by mixing together two liquids to make colorful slime.
  • The Price is Right (all ages)- Test your skills and luck by playing a version of the Price is Right. Learn the importance of correct product pricing by guessing the price of everyday items from the grocery store. Successful guesses will win you a prize.

Explore UTSome physical activities that will get you up and moving:

  • Candy Boot Camp (4-7 years old)- Get ready for sweet basic training to earn your favorite treats and to enjoy them. In this boot camp, you’ll jump, move and dance to music while learning the basics about sugar.
  • Dance Party Flash Mob (all ages)- Find your happy dance as you explore movement and rhythm games, dances from around the world and groove to the music. Whether you already love to dance or never thought you’d try it, this is the perfect opportunity for your whole family to join the dance.
  • Get Fit with Air Force ROTC Cadets (all ages)- Get in shape with Air Force ROTC cadets while testing your push-up and sit-up skills. Prize incentives will be offered. Those not wanting to work up a sweat can check out a fighter pilot’s helmet and other Air Force gear.
  • Gregory Gym Open House (all ages)- Discover fun facts about this historic building on a self-guided tour. Challenge yourself on the indoor climbing wall (some restrictions apply), shoot some hoops and spike a volleyball on the courts, or try to navigate a fitness obstacle course.
  • Longhorn ROTC Experience: Scale the Rock Wall (all ages)- Visit this display to learn about the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Meet Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students and active duty staff and discover military training opportunities at UT. Take the challenge to scale a rock climbing wall.
  • UT Twister Competition (all ages)- Play this cool and exciting twist on the game of Twister. Kids and adults will play to win exciting prizes while learning the names of universities in Texas. Challenge your partner, friend or family member. Fun photo moments are guaranteed.

Explore UTMore don’t-miss fun:

  • Free photo ops– Stop by the MAI – Main Building, Main Mall, West Flag Court, for pictures with UT icons, including Hook ‘Em, UT Cheer, UT Pom, and Smokey the cannon. A schedule will be posted to help you plan your photos. There will be tech-inspired games to play while you wait, and prizes will be awarded. And, if you find yourself over in the GEA – Mary E. Gearing Hall Courtyard, there will be a photo op in front of the UT Tower, to help you remember all the fun you had!
  • Free glow bowling– If you’ve ever wanted to try the Texas Union Underground Glow Bowling, now’s your chance! Head to the Union Underground (first floor, north end) for free glow bowling. Availability is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of one game per person. Billiard tables will also be available.
  • Free museum admission– You can also visit the LBJ Library and the Texas Memorial Museum for free on March 5, 2016! See the full list of special attractions here.
  • March with the Longhorn Band– A rehearsal session will be held on the Joe Jamail Field in the Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium, followed by a march to the Tower for the Explore UT class photo at 5 p.m. Rehearsal begins at 4 p.m. with the march to the Tower beginning at 4:40 p.m. Find more information here.
  • Get a Student ID Card– Stop by the UT Austin ID Center to obtain a “Future Longhorn” Student ID Card for your little ones!

Make your own schedule:

As someone who suffers greatly from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), I found the Explore UT schedule to be overwhelming. I want to do it all! If you’re like me, this is where getting the kids involved can help. Give them a few suggestions and let them choose. Eventually, you will be able to narrow down the list to their top favorites and plan to do those activities first.


The university will be a center of activity on Explore UT weekend, but there are many places to park free of charge on and around the campus.  Most UT parking lots, as well as state lots and garages south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK), are open on Saturday.  Some areas may require a permit. Please observe posted signs.

Free parking will be available in the following UT parking garages:

Entering the campus from the north on Dean Keeton Street will provide the easiest access to free parking garages. See the Explore UT map for locations.

Paid parking is available at the following garage on the south side of campus:

You can find the parking instructions here. You can find a map of the University here. Or, click on the one below to enlarge.

Explore UT map (click to enlarge):

Explore UT
Want more information to help plan your day? Be sure to check out the Explore UT website!
Explore UT