The Weber State University Office of Undergraduate Research and the Community Involvement Center are now taking submissions for the annual Day at the Capitol. Students can submit posters about their undergraduate research and show them to the legislatures at the capitol in Salt Lake City.
All students can enter their undergraduate research or projects relating to their community involvement. The community projects can be anything from volunteer work, community-based research projects or service learning.
“It’s a good experience,” said Erin Daniels, Office of Undergraduate Research manager. “It’s kind of a different world there, and it’s good to see how it works.”
To apply for the event, students submit posters that describe their projects and the impact they had on the community.
Brenda Kowalewski, the Community Involvement Center director, said it does not matter how big or small the project. For instance, students have submitted posters about Make a Difference Day, an annual day of volunteering. Last year, the project involved putting in a sprinkler system for Habitat for Humanity. Another group of students submitted their capstone project that they worked on for two semesters.
“It’s really a day where Weber gets to showcase some of their best and brightest students and projects,” Kowalewski said. “It is with the intent that we are demonstrating to the legislature that the type of learning opportunities and experiences that students are getting at Weber State University can only happen with their support.”
The students gather in the rotunda at the capitol and showcase their posters. They can request to talk with a specific legislature about their individual project, though Daniels said the legislatures do not necessarily respond to the request. Before the event, the students are given an orientation on the right and wrong way to talk to the senators.
“When you are really passionate about creating change, you’re really passionate about getting engaged in the community,” Kowalewski said. “You get out there and get engaged, but that changes that small slice of community when you are feeding the hungry right there. When you go to the capitol, you have the opportunity to change food distribution, if that’s your issue, for a lot more people.”
The best 30 projects are accepted for Day at the Capitol. The event will take place on Feb. 7.
Teachers are also encouraging their students to participate, including Sarah Steimel, a communication assistant professor. Steimel said the event gives students the opportunity to showcase their projects for a nonacademic audience. People who live and work near the capitol go and listen to student projects.
“I also think it’s good for students in terms of their professional development,” Steimel said. “If students plan to go to graduate school or law school, certainly having presented academic research is helpful.”
She said presenting research to a lay audience is a skill most people could use in their jobs. She also said it is a good opportunity to network.
Day at the Capitol is not the only avenue for students to present their research. The National Conference for Undergraduate Research is also held each year, and took place at WSU last year. Steimel said that where students can showcase their research usually depends on their majors.
“I think most of us will be asked, if not even to present research, at least to be able to present in our professional lives,” she said.