science sprints

 

A "Science Sprint" is a one-day intensive event bringing teams of 10-25 undergraduates together to work on a meaningful science problem.

Sprinters will...

  • Gain experience “doing science"
  • Build their resumes
  • Explore new science areas
  • Jumpstart potential research or internship opportunities
  • Make connections with faculty
  • Engage with an interdisciplinary team of students
  • Create a science work product that they can showcase to potential employers
  • Have fun!

T-shirts, lunch and snacks included!

For Fall 2018, Science Sprints will take place on 2-3 Saturdays (dates tbd). Multiple teams will be working on projects on each Sprint day! 

Students: Interested in participating in a Sprint? Fall 2018 Sprint topics will be posted in late August, and registration will open at that time.

UT Faculty: Interested in leading a Sprint? Complete the Science Sprint Proposal Form.

Questions? Email Lynda Gonzales at lyndag@austin.utexas.edu 

 

Past Topics

Spring 2018

Sprint #1: Restoring the Waller Creek Ecosystem

Faculty leader: Dr. Stuart Reichler
Additional collaborators: Dr. Tim Reidel, Dr. Mary Poteet
Project description: Waller Creek runs through campus, and while parts of the creek offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of our urban campus, the creek is negatively impacted by runoff from streets and other pollutants.  We have been monitoring the health of the creek and its surrounding ecosystem for several years to determine the general state of the ecosystem, identify sources of pollutants, and ascertain how to improve the health of the ecosystem.  During the Science Sprint, we will explore urban watersheds, collect samples from the creek, and analyze the samples for E. coli, macroorganisms, and the presence of nutrients.
Total number of students on the team: 20-25
Required prerequisites: None
Location: BME 2.506
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs

Sprint #2: creating dashboards for student success data

Faculty leader: Dr. Shelly Engelman
Additional collaborators: Dr. Sarah Eichhorn
Project description: Students will work on data analysis and visualization projects using College of Natural Sciences institutional data. Clear and compelling visualizations will provide actionable information to faculty, administrators and students. Some results may be showcased on the CNS website and in department-level dashboards or reports.
Total number of students on the team: 21-25
Required prerequisites: All students should be proficient in Excel. Students with more advanced knowledge of Python, R, JavaScript, GoogleCharts, or other programming languages are also encouraged to participate.
Location: WEL 2.128 & 2.140
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs

SPRINT #3: Pokemon Go Lessons for K-12 Math and Physics

Faculty leader: Dr. Sarah Eichhorn
Project description: Pokemon Go is the first widespread mobile augmented reality game. It is been downloaded by over 800 million users and has made over $1.2 billion in revenue. This sprint will focus on designing lessons and activities for K-12 classrooms to utilize Pokemon Go for mathematics and physics education.
Total number of students on the team: 21-25
Required prerequisites: None - we welcome all students. Students with interest in education, math, physics or mobile gaming are particularly encouraged to attend.
Location: PAI 5.42
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs

SPRINT #4: Time-Dependent mRNA Expression in Arabidopsis Translation Initiation Factor Mutants

Faculty leader: Dr. Karen Browning & Dr. Sarah Eichhorn
Project description: We will consider data sets for two Arabidopsis mutants, each in a different translation initiation factor, compared to wild type plants. Samples for RNA-seq were taken pre-dawn and at noon. We will look for what mRNAs are up and down expressed based on the time of day. For example, we might expect photosynthesis associated mRNA to vary with day time.
Total number of students on the team: 21-25
Required prerequisites: Participants will need to have taken at least one of the following: 1) Genetics; 2) a Statistics course; or 3) a Computer programming course.
Location: PAI 5.33
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs 

SPRINT #5: Longhorn Cattle Population Modeling

Faculty leader: Dr. Sarah Eichhorn
Project description: Texas Longhorn cattle are one of America's oldest cattle breeds. The Longhorns almost went extinct in the late 19th century. For this sprint, students will create a mathematical model for the Longhorn population over time, including major influencers such as weather, disease, competition and human predation.
Total number of students on the team: 21-25
Required prerequisites: Participants will need to have taken at least one of the following: 1) Differential Equations; 2) Biology coursework in Ecology and/or Genetics.
Location: PAI 5.33
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs

SPRINT #6: Designing a high-tech data collection tool for infants

Faculty leader: Dr. Hannah Williamsonn
Project description: Students will take an inter-disciplinary approach to design multiple aspects of a data collection tool to be used in an upcoming human subjects study of family processes. A low-energy Bluetooth beacon will be worn by infants (aged 4, 8, and 12 months) which will be detected by their parents’ phones, to track how much time each parent is spending with the child.
Total number of students on the team:13-16
Required prerequisites: HDFS, TXA, and CS majors who have taken lower division courses will have the most relevant skills, but other students with interest and enthusiasm could also contribute.
Location: PAI 5.42
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs

SPRINT #7: ASSESSING THE POPULATION DENSITY OF FOX SQUIRRELS, SCIURUS NIGER, ON UT'S CAMPUS, AND THE DAMAGE THEY DO TO CAMPUS TREES

Faculty leader: Dr. Kay McMurry & Dr. Jennifer Fritz
Project description: Students will assess the damage done to campus trees by fox squirrels, Sciurus niger, and collect data used to assess squirrel density by distance sampling. Descriptive statistics of tree damage by zone will be the final product for the day, and this information will be shared with UT Landscape Services for their use. 
Total number of students on the team: 21-25
Required prerequisites: Having taken a statistics or biostatistics would be helpful. 
Location: WEL 2.144
Time commitment: start time 9am; Sprints usually last 8-10 hrs