This Saturday, April 17, 2010, is Cal Day at the University of California, Berkeley. The 150-year old campus grounds are filled with activities and opportunities for the general public, most all of them free.
Even if you’re a campus regular, Cal Day is a chance to see places and activities not typically open to the public. If you’re new to Berkeley or have a kid interested in college, there are plenty of activities scheduled to help learn about the campus and going to college, and explore.
The best way to get oriented in advance is to visit the Cal Day website.
You can search the website for activities, or download a pdf version (11 megabytes) of the entire printed program.
When you enter the campus by most major routes on Saturday you’ll find information tables distributing copies of the program. Sather Gate Bridge and Dwinelle Plaza will also be filled with information tables for various student groups and campus departments.
Motorized cable cars cruise the campus and there’s a perimeter shuttle and a separate shuttle to uphill areas in Strawberry Canyon and beyond (board every fifteen minutes at the east entrance to Evans Hall, facing Mining Circle).
From African American Studies to Undergraduate Research, academic departments and programs have special activities for the day. Many departments appear to have planned a set of separate activities with some oriented at kids, others at prospective students, and the remainder targeting intellectually inquisitive adults.
Here’s a sampling of highlights and activity opportunities.
Rides up the Campanile for free from 9:00 – 3:30.
Cal Day is an opportunity to see inside places generally not open to the public. If you haven’t been inside the Gardner Stacks and Moffitt Library (closed to the public, unless you have a UC library card), Saturday is your chance to wander through.
Campus museums, including the Berkeley Art Museum, are free. The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is open for its one public day of the year. Next door, behind the scenes tours are available of the University and Jepson Herbaria.
The Seismology Laboratory in McCone Hall will be open, as will the Architecture Shop in Wurster Hall.
Numerous tours are offered: student co-ops, Greek houses, and residence halls. Did you know the residence halls have a Global-Environmental Theme House and Green Suite? There’s a tour of that, too.
The Recreational Sports Facility on Bancroft Way will be open for visitors.
At 2 pm, starting at the Dwinelle Plaza steps of Dwinelle Hall there’s a one hour sustainability walking tour of the campus, led by students showing off “hot spots on campus that demonstrate and foster environmental awareness and commitment”, from permeable paving to re-use centers for school supplies.
From 11 to noon at Alumni House the Rally Committee offers a “crash course” in Cal traditions and songs, followed by a spirit rally at noon on Sproul Plaza.
For a more strenuous spirit activity, meet in front of Bowles Hall at 2 pm for a hike to the Big “C” on Charter Hill behind campus—also a great place for views over the Bay Area.
Between 10 and noon undertake a mock dig looking for artifacts at the Archaeological Research Facility; 11 to 1 at the same place help paint a rock art mural.
The ASUC Art Studio just downhill from Sather Gate is having its Spring sale, always a good place to shop for fine, inexpensive, ceramics and jewelry; pottery wheel demonstrations are also offered.
In 255 Kroeber Hall student print makers are also having a sale of their work and tours of their shop.
At Campbell Hall astronomers will demonstrate live radio astronomy observations, using the University’s Allen Telescope Array; at the Space Sciences Laboratory just uphill from the Lawrence Hall of Science there are 30 minute tours of the campus mission control center for satellites, and several other activities.
Several leading members of the faculty will lecture on diverse topics. Among them:
• At 3 pm at Le Conte Hall Professor Gibor Basri describes the search for Earth-sized planets.
• 9 am at 2040 Valley Life Sciences Professor George Bentley talks about “Big Discoveries from Basic Research in Biology.”
• 10 am at 60 Evans Hall Professor Alexandre Chorin from the Department of Mathematics discusses “Why Predictions Fail”, touching on subjects from the weather to economics.
• 10 am in 209 Dwinelle Hall Professor Uldis Kruze discusses the arrival of the first Japanese embassy to the United States one hundred and fifty years ago in San Francisco and “the beginning of a Japanese-American community in California.”
In early afternoon, structural engineers will subject steel and concrete columns to stress in Davis Hall to see when they’ll buckle; if you guess closest to their failing point, you win a prize.
10-2 in the Student Store (lower level of Student Union), several local authors who “represent the spirit of Berkeley” will sign books; pick up a schedule of authors at the store.
Newer buildings on campus that even long-time Berkeley residents may not have seen include Sutardja Dai Hall (north of Evans, near Northgate), and the East Asian Library can be visited.
Hertz Hall, the campus concert hall, is packed with free musical activities during the day. At 11 am the University Symphony performs. At 12:30 the University Chorus & Orchestra takes the same stage, performing excerpts from “Porgy and Bess”. At 2 the University’s Baroque Ensemble performs. Between 1:30 and 2 the University Chamber Chorus sings outside Hertz Hall, followed by the Gospel Chorus at 3:00 and the African Music Ensemble at 3:30.
From 10:30 to 11 the Cal Band performs at Sather Gate. The Cal Taiko student drum corps starts a Lower Sproul Plaza performance at 10 am.
The Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures takes place at International House with “dance, drama, music, food, arts, crafts, exhibits, and kid’s activities from around the globe.”
There are plenty of kids events from building a box city in Wurster Hall to an animal puppet show at Life Sciences. Look for bear emblems for child-friendly activities. There’s “OskiLand” in Memorial Glade, and a Kid Zone at the Student Union. An Army ROTC climbing wall appears in Memorial Glade, north of Doe Library.
There’s a free Vinyasa yoga workshop at noon in 251 Hearst Gymnasium and free 10 minute massages at the Recreational Sports Facility. The University Police show off their various mechanical devices—from the bomb squad truck to a police bicycle—in the parking lot just uphill from Sather Gate.
The Cal Football team engages in Spring Practice in Memorial Stadium from 9-11. There’s a 1 pm Men’s Tennis match against Stanford, and the Cal Baseball team plays Washington, also at 1, next door at Evans Diamond. All three sports events are free.
Eat in a dining commons. The commons at Foothill Housing is open for lunch and dinner; the Crossroads facility at Bowditch and Channing and the Clark Kerr dining commons are open for brunch and dinner.
Around campus several cafes, from Muse in the Berkeley Art Museum to the newest—QualComm Cyber Café in the recently completed Sutardja Dai Hall—will also be serving.
And at the end of the day from 4-6 PM the band Cold War Kids plays a concert in Memorial Glade.