Showing off snakes, fire and guitar licks: The students of ASU Open Door

March 1, 2019

Robots, snakes and live insects were just a few of the exhibits showcased at ASU Open Door, a community-wide event presented Feb. 23 at the Tempe campus.

The event attracted thousands of families who had the chance to experience hundreds of interactive, hands-on activities and explore spaces usually only accessible to ASU students and faculty  laboratories, living collections, museums and more. ASU’s Downtown Phoenix, West and Polytechnic campuses also hosted Open Door events during the month of February.

Students were all hands on deck at the event as they guided visitors of all ages.

Julia Torline, a senior studying biochemistry, took part in an exhibit to demonstrate how playing an electric guitar can make flames rise out of a tube.

“We are pumping gas into this tube, and then on one end we have a speaker that’s playing sound from the guitar into the tube. The sound makes waves in the gas to change how it vibrates, so that affects the height of the flame,” Torline said.

Abbey Sewell, a senior studying biological science, helped out with an exhibit that let visitors hold live snakes.

“We are here today to teach people more about reptiles and hopefully help educate them on how to handle them if they come in contact and just learn a little bit more about them,” Sewell said.

One snake at the exhibit included a rosy boa snake, which is native to Arizona.

“We just want to get people more comfortable with them, because typically they’re seen as scary and dangerous, but these guys are not venomous,” she said.

Sewell said her favorite part about ASU Open Door was getting to teach kids.

“I love when little kids come up and they’re freaked out, and then by the end of them hanging out at our booth they actually have the snake in their hand or around their necks, and they’re a little more comfortable with them,” said Sewell.

Ermyntrude Adjei, a senior studying biomedical engineering, assisted with an exhibit that let visitors interact with robots. One robot detected the differences in color codes, which helped it stay on a track.

“This application is very helpful in saving the lives of people who are stuck in mines,” she said.

Adjei said it’s important for students to get a close look at robots because it gives them an engineering perspective “to solve problems and then to help change the world.”