Skip to main content

Night of the Open Door crowds light up ASU's first open house

ASU's Night of the Open Door
March 14, 2012

As the sun set over the Valley on March 3, Arizona State University’s inaugural Night of the Open Door sparkled with activity: Tesla coils crackled, solar-powered planes soared, while the 3-D digital arts display “Immerge” spun the Nelson Fine Arts Center in a vibrant tableau of blue, gold and green light.

Thousands of people strolled and baby “strollered” through ASU’s first open house, lighting pathways across the Tempe campus with luminescent headbands, bracelets and smiles.

“This was a premier night for seeing what’s happening in laboratories, museums and classrooms on the Tempe campus,” said Charles Kazilek, the associate dean of technology, media and communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and lead organizer for the Night of the Open Door. “Visitors were able to meet many of the students, scientists, artists, engineers and creative thinkers who do amazing things every day at ASU, but not always in the public eye."

More than 700 ASU students, faculty and staff volunteers hosted activities in the sciences, humanities and the arts. With their help, visitors engineered windmills and folded Chinese origami; solved crossword puzzles and math teasers; explored NASA moon rocks and Mars missions, debated border issues, or held court with medieval lords and ladies; and listened to lectures, cowboy poetry and Bob Marley’s music. ASU clubs, such as the ASU Dust Devils, Astro Devils, and Society of Physics Students, also added excitement to children’s activities and visitors’ imaginations.

Usually restricted research areas were open to public view for the first time as well. The Biodesign Institute’s central atrium and Kids’ Zone engaged more than 1,000 visitors with its latest discoveries in vaccines, early disease detection and sustainability, and the Frank Hasbrouck Entomology Collection in the School of Life Sciences, which holds more than 700,000 insects, enticed 1,000 widened eyes.

Belly dancing, roller coasters, interactive exhibits and examples of more than 1,650 meteorite falls also attracted crowds to the School of International Letters and Cultures, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, ASU’s Museum of Anthropology and the Center for Meteorite Studies.

“Three of our 200 visitors even had meteorites of their own to share,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, the center’s director and a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

The audience feedback throughout the evening reflected the excitement of participants in the Night of the Open Door event. “My daughter was fascinated by the science exhibits and was inspired to see so many women as leaders in these events,” said one father of three. Another visitor added: “My kids and I had more fun than we have had in a long time. Not only was [Night of the Open Door] a fun-filled and educational extravaganza, it was a community event! I can’t tell you the kind of lasting impression that an experience like this can have, but I am so blessed that my children and so many children were given the opportunity to see science and arts in a fun environment.”

“The Night of the Open Door was a great demonstration of the vibrant research science and technology present at ASU,” said Jeremy Babendure, director of the Arizona SciTech Festival. “Making the community aware of this will help to inspire diverse collaborations and propel future innovation in our state. To this end, the Night of the Open Door served as an important anchor to the success of our inaugural AZ SciTech Festival.” 

For ASU alums who attended with their families, it was a chance to show off their alma mater. One devoted SunDevil remarked: “I was able to go in to buildings and classrooms I once attended classes in – except they were not just empty rooms, they were alive with people of all ages watching, learning and creating on this special night.”

The Night of the Open Door was spearheaded by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with ASU partners: the Biodesign Institute, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the Global Institute of Sustainability, and was a signature event of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

“The wonderful success of this event and the energy of an inquisitive, engaged community have us already looking forward to next year’s Night of the Open Door,” said Kazilek.

To see what you missed and get a glimpse of what’s might be in store for the second annual Night of the Open Door on March 2, 2013: