UC Berkeley opens its doors for annual Cal Day extravaganza

Student performances, faculty lectures, campus tours, free museums, Pac-10 competitions in baseball and tennis, face painting and other kid-friendly activities — topped off by a 4 p.m. concert by the band Cold War Kids — await visitors to the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday, April 17, for its annual Cal Day open house.

Welcome to Cal Day 2010

Cal Day main website

Cal Day program (There are hundreds of events and activities to choose from, so use the program to plan your day in advance.)

Sproul Plaza poolCal Day 2009 audio slideshow camera audio

With free admission, Cal Day typically draws between 30,000 and 40,000 people eager to explore the scientific and cultural offerings of the nation’s top public research university. Museums normally closed to the public, such as the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and the Essig Museum of Entomology, open their doors to all, as do public museums, including the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Botanical Garden and the Berkeley Art Museum.

The day’s events, nearly 350 in all, begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m., followed by a Cal Day Concert in Memorial Glade between 4 and 6 p.m.

“Despite staffing cuts around the campus, departments are hosting as many events as last year,” said Cal Day coordinator Diana Musto. “It’s more important than ever that the public comes and gets a sense of what’s going on at UC Berkeley.”

For the lucky students newly admitted to UC Berkeley, the campus is hosting a special student welcome in Haas Pavilion between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Future hopefuls can check out the Marketplace on Dwinelle Plaza, where many departments set up information tables, or drop in to check out departments in person.

UC Berkeley students play a major role in Cal Day festivities. The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) is sponsoring the Cal Day concert and other activities, student groups will perform throughout the day on upper and lower Sproul plazas, while student organizations will host informational tables in both areas.

Because of limited parking, the best way to reach the campus is by public transportation — the Downtown Berkeley BART station is only a block from the western edge of UC Berkeley, while AC Transit bus stops ring the campus. Free cable cars and shuttles will ferry visitors around the campus and up the hill to the UC Botanical Garden, the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Space Sciences Laboratory.

To plan your Cal Day, link to a complete program guide with event times and locations, maps and tour information at http://calday.berkeley.edu. Among the day’s highlights will be:

Topical lectures

Learn about “High-Speed Rail: The True Environmental Costs,” in a talk by Samer Madanat, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, and post-doctoral researcher Mikhail Chester: 2-3 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, 310 Sutardja Dai Hall.

Three UC Berkeley faculty members — Goldman School of Public Policy Dean Henry Brady, journalism professor Susan Rasky and School of Public Health professor Richard Scheffler — will discuss “Health Care, Economic Policy, and Political Polarization in America,” 2-3:30 p.m. in the Toll Room of Alumni House.

This year’s blockbuster movie by James Cameron, “Avatar,” will receive an historical analysis by three distinguished historians – assistant professors Victoria Frede and Daniel Sargent and adjunct assistant professor Michael Schuering – at a presentation, “Avatar: Historical Perspectives,” led by Mary Elizabeth Berry, chair of the history department, 2-3 p.m. in 145 Dwinelle Hall.

Political science assistant professor Ron Hassner discusses “Three Misconceptions About Religion and War,” 1:30-3 p.m. in 180 Tan Hall.

Alan Schoenfeld, professor of education, discusses a theory of “how we think” and its implications for teaching in “How We Think, How We Teach,” 11 a.m.-noon in 101 Wheeler Hall.

Allison Harvey, associate professor of psychology, gives advice on “Sleep: How Much You Really Need and How to Get It!” 10-11 a.m. in 145 Dwinelle Hall.

Science & technology

Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart and Nobel laureate and cosmologist George Smoot will discuss one of Hart’s latest musical projects, which incorporates the sounds of space with his drumming; Smoot will tell the scientific story behind the sounds, 3-4 p.m in 226 LeConte Hall.

KQED Quest has interviewed numerous UC Berkeley scientists for its weekly half-hour science program, which airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 9. Seven of these scientists, including astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter, herpetologist Tyrone Hayes and bee expert Claire Kremen, will show and discuss their already-aired segments at the top of each hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in 2063 Valley Life Sciences Building.

Pick up your Passport to Science@Cal at the Valley Life Sciences Building (south entrance, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) or the Hearst Mining Circle (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and get it stamped or stickered at science demonstrations around the campus. These will include an animal puppet show at the Valley Life Sciences Building and beach-bucket science at McCone Hall. (Recommended for children ages 6 to 12 and their families.)

Gibor Basri, professor of astronomy, will discuss “The Kepler Mission: A Search for Earth-sized Planets,” 2-3 p.m. in 3 LeConte Hall.

Assistant professor Pieter Abbeel and his electrical engineering and computer science students will operate a robotic helicopter capable of autonomous flight in the “Robot Learning Lab,” 10 a.m.-noon in 476 Cory Hall.

Theater, music & dance

Under the baton of David Milnes, professor of music, the University Symphony Orchestra will perform works of Britten, Vaughn Williams and Saint Saëns, with student soloists, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in Hertz Hall.

Following the symphony concert, the orchestra will join the University Chorus under the direction of associate professor and Music Director Marika Kuzma to perform excerpts from George Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” 12:30-12:45 p.m. in Hertz Hall.

The Gospel Chorus, directed by D. Mark Wilson, will perform spirituals, anthems, traditional and contemporary gospel songs, 3-3:30 p.m. on the south patio of Hertz Hall.

A student performance of the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical, “Into the Woods,” will be offered from 2-4 p.m. in room 20 of the Cesar Chavez Student Center (There is a charge for this Cal Day event: $8 for students, $12 for general public).

Bring your blanket and sit on the grass to cap a great Cal Day with live music on Memorial Glade with the Cold War Kids, an indie rock band from Long Beach, from 4-6 p.m. The concert, sponsored by the ASUC, celebrates Global Outreach (GO) Week, which highlights UC Berkeley’s commitment to public service and global awareness.

For kids

Get your face painted blue and gold to share your Cal spirit, pick up a free balloon or try your hand at arts and crafts at the Kidzone, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Naia Lounge on the first floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.

Gamers will love GamesCrafters, where you can play games that freshmen and sophomores have created as members of the Undergraduate Game Theory Research and Development Group, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in 310 Soda Hall.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the laser, invented by UC Berkeley Nobelist Charles Townes, at LaserFest, where kids can experiment with lasers in a safe environment, learn how they work and why they are important today, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in 235 LeConte Hall.

Play games, get a hug from Oski, everyone’s favorite Golden Bear, and meet Cal athletes at OskiLand! 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Memorial Glade.


Cal challenges Stanford in a Pac-10 men’s tennis match, 1-3 p.m. at the Hellman Tennis Complex.

The Cal men’s baseball team goes up against Washington, 1-4 p.m. at Evans Diamond.

Coach Jeff Tedford will lead a Cal Football Spring Practice, a preview of the fall 2010 season, 9-11 a.m. in Memorial Stadium.