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UTRGV’s RiSA Community Day draws families for day of fun and learning

Young visitors To UTRGV’s RiSA Community Day participated in a Robot Parade at Linear Park in Brownsville.
(UTRGV photo by Paul Chouy)

By Vicky Brito

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – NOV. 7, 2015 -- A little rain didn’t stop visitors from coming out to the Rio Grande Valley Science and Arts Festival (RiSA) on Saturday. 

Held at Linear Park, Community Day served as an opportunity for people in the Brownsville community to learn about the different science related fields at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Booths lined the bike trail at the park, some representing community organizations and others offering science-related information. 

The festival had a little something for all ages. The Brownsville Children’s Museum provided the Imagination playground, where children could build structures of their own creation. 

The festival started off with a robot parade, where students from 16 elementary schools dressed up as robots and marched to music from “Star Wars.” 

“They were really cute and very creative. They made all these robot costumes and rolling floats,” said RiSA Director Dr. Joey Key.

One of the most popular features, the Physics Circus, was held on the main stage, and displayed examples of Isaac Newton’s first three laws of motion. 

Umbrellas quickly dotted the landscape, as rain started falling about 1 p.m. Still, many families braved the weather the rain to watch the wonders of the Physics Circus, including demonstrations on how liquid nitrogen works and experiments on the force of pressure.

During the pressure experiment, Cindy Ibarra, secretary of the UTRGV Society of Physics Students, reclined on a bed of nails to show that the number of nails prevented her from getting hurt. SPS members then placed a piece of plywood on her stomach to hold a cinder block – which they then broke with a hammer. 

Ibarra said she has done the demonstration 30 times and it does not frighten her.

“It just feels like acupuncture,” she said. “You just feel a thousand little pinches on your back. I trust these guys to not hurt me.” 

Juan Martinez attended the event with his children, Gina and Giuliana Martinez, to help educate them about what science opportunities exist in the Rio Grande Valley.

“My kids have liked everything, it’s been awesome for them,” Martinez said. “It was a very positive event for the community.”

After the Physics Circus, UTRGV marine biology graduate student Ricky Alexander performed an acoustic set of songs on the main stage.

UTRGV dance group Dancesation, from the Brownsville Campus, performed the Black Hole dance, which demonstrates the processes of a black hole and how they behave. 

“The key here is that we are thinking about the connections between science and art, and the main connections are creativity, innovation and asking questions. Both fields really focus on these things,” Key said.

UTRGV students perform the Black Hole Dance.
UTRGV students perform the Black Hole Dance, accompanied by a narration that helps explain the science, during RiSA Community Day on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Linear Park in Brownsville. (UTRGV photo by Paul Chouy)

MEDIA CONTACTS UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
956-665-2742 UTRGV Director of Public Relations


Dr. Joey Key, Director of Education and Outreach
UTRGV Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy