Hands On Day… for the Undeclared

Undergraduate students who have not declared their major used to wander the University with little exposure to the vast majority of educational disciplines available to them at SIUE. The answer to this problem is Hands On Day, where the College of Arts and Sciences shows off its stuff.

Pre-med major Casey Moser and "bananna man"

“We’re extracting DNA from bananas,” said Casey Moser, junior and pre-med major. “I think it will be important for doctors to check their patients DNA in the future so drugs can better target individuals.”

Display demonstrating image replication with mirrors

Tables from all the areas of study crowded the Stratton Quadrangle on a sunny September day. As underclassmen wandered by, the hands-on displays lured them in to find out more.

“This is an experiment to see how many images you can form with a single object,” said physics and applied math senior Andrew Stern. “This proves that images can create images from themselves and that is used in sending optical communications across a fiber optic network.”

Hands on activities weren’t limited to the sciences either.

“We’re trying to make a statement about body image and the media,”  said senior English major and women’s studies minor Christy Koester. “We’re asking people to go through these magazines and find pictures that depict women or men in ways that tell the observer that they’re not good enough the way that they are.”

Body image collage, a collaborative work

When undergrads find a picture that shows something about body image they are asked to add it to a collage that Koester is developing as a work of participatory exploration of the subject. She says that body image is an important and evolving topic that is often addressed in women’s studies classes, and it’s one that that impacts society as a whole.

Women’s studies is a minor at SIUE but students interested in expanding any interdisciplinary study into a major can define their own focus through a liberal studies major.

“Women’s studies, black studies, European studies — they can develop that into a major,” said liberal studies adviser Brian Hinterscher — who is also the coordinator of Advising for the College of Arts and Sciences. “Also, if they have a professional or applied specialization — say they’re looking at meteorology, or they’re looking at college student personnel or the higher-end administration — they could develop their own major on the undergraduate level to prepare them to go on to their graduate work.”

Hands On Day began last year in an attempt to help the large number of undecided students who attend SIUE. CAS Dean Aldemaro Romero said administrators felt students didn’t have a real idea of the diversity of the disciplines of our own College of Arts and Sciences.
In its second year, the program is expected to show results.

“Given the student participation today I think this is going to be very successful,” said CAS Dean Aldemaro Romero. “We’ll get a better sense in the next few days when our advising office will tell us, ‘Oh, we got — because of this (event) — this many students who are interested in this major or that major.”

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