Starlight twinkles through the trees and crickets serenade in the distance as families, students and others with a thirst for knowledge gather outside at The University of Texas at Austin's Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) for another evening of Science Under the Stars.
As visitors wait for the talk to commence, they can take a guided tour of BFL and participate in relevant activities designed for all ages — perhaps a close encounter with insects and plants gathered from BFL or a chance to observe microbial life beneath a microscope. Smaller children can color related images, play matching games and more.
When the time is nigh, visitors gather in chairs beneath the trees and listen as graduate students, faculty and other researchers share insights and excitement about their research or another scientific topic close to their heart. Question and answer sessions that follow allow the public and the scientist to discuss the topic more fully. Talks run the gamut from musical musings about the microbiome to a peek at how plants protect themselves from predators and pathogens to last month's look at the wonders of spider silk.