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UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt took a little time Thursday night to enjoy two of her passions: science and learning.

Folt, an internationally recognized environmental scientist, visited Efland-Cheeks Elementary School to experience Folt Science Night, a school-based event for students, their parents and their teachers as part of the North Carolina Science Festival. In all, more than 110 schools across the state host Folt Science Nights. Activities at each cover wide range of science, technology, engineering and math topics.

“By making science and technology relevant and fun, we hope that this program inspires hundreds of young people,” Folt said. “I am honored to be associated with this exciting initiative and grateful for the generous gift that makes it possible for us to provide this opportunity in so many elementary schools across North Carolina.”

Folt coached Efland-Cheeks students as they mixed solutions, creating a chemical reaction that produced a colorful polymer called “Gross Goo.” She encouraged students as they built “Gardens in a Glove,” planting seeds for sweet corn, soybeans, sunflowers, lima beans and soybeans with help from their parents. She joined Orange County Schools Superintendent Gerri Martin for a demonstration of the school’s 3D printer in the school’s media center, filled with families engaged in science activities.

Each Folt Science Night event is designed to generate enthusiasm among students and families for science and technology by giving them a chance to explore science together. Participating schools each receive an event kit that includes lessons and materials for 13 hands-on activities. Efland-Cheeks previously has participated, and the school has expanded the event into a larger science night for the entire school with more than 30 activities and stations.

The development of Folt Science Night and the distribution of event kits to schools across North Carolina are funded by an anonymous donor who asked that the North Carolina Science Festival name the ‘Nights’ in honor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Chancellor. The Chancellor-named Science Nights began in 2012.

The N.C. Science Festival began in 2010 as an initiative of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, which continues to administer the Festival.

By UNC Communications and Morehead Planetarium and Science Center staffs.

May 5, 2014