Picnic Day: Make Yourself a List

Crowd of people at Picnic Day with superimposed logo: Picnic Day 109: Ignite our moment
The 109th Picnic Day is this Saturday (April 15), with so many events you might not even know what you're missing. Dateline editor Dave Jones dug into the program for 10 events he plans to check out.

If you’ve been to at least one Picnic Day (or more than a dozen, like me), you most likely know there is far more to see and do than you have time for.


Picnic Day 109
Saturday (April 15)

  • Opening Ceremony — 9:30-10:30 a.m., grandstand on North Quad Avenue at Wickson Hall
  • Parade 10:30 a.m.

In fact, with all that the campus open house offers, you might not even know what you’re missing! I’m not talking about the “big” events like the parade and Doxie Derby, Chemistry Show and Fashion Show, and the Battle of the Bands.

I’m taking about exhibits that may be lesser known (at least to me). I remember one year when I learned late in the day about the University Writing Program’s exhibit on the other side of campus, but by the time I got there ­the exhibit had wrapped up for the day.

This year I am determined not to let that happen! So I took a deeper dive into the program and found at least 10 exhibits that piqued my interest or had a little quirkiness to them. (My challenge now is getting to all of them Saturday!)

Before I get to my list, I’d like to encourage you to make a list of your own. Then, let’s go have our best Picnic Day ever!

"Yin & Yang" Egghead sculptures
What’s the “Yin & Yang” of it all? Ask a Philosopher on Picnic Day.

Dave’s day

Ask a Philosopher — I figure why not start here, to ask, “What’s the meaning of Picnic Day?” The exhibit description says, “Do you have any philosophical questions? Please come talk to UC Davis philosophers!” They will set up their booth outside their building, Social Sciences and Humanities, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. On second thought, I think my question will be, “What’s the meaning of your mazelike building (aka the Death Star)?”

Sound + Music = Magic — Come hear thrilling live electronic music from UC Davis students. Then try out some synths in the lab. Bonus: I get to say “synths.” 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Sound Lab, Art Annex.

Silly Putty, in two hands of child
Silly Putty in the hand is worth another batch in your other hand.


Silly Putty Kids Craft — Join UC Davis’ AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) community in making Silly Putty from borax and Elmer’s Glue. It’s an activity for the whole family. I’ll be showing up without kids, but I hope I can get in! Wonder if my press pass will work? 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Bainer Hall lawn.

Drawing: Cow with dialogue box, "Hi, I'm Joules the Cow"

R-Ohm-eo and Joule-iet — It’s the Physics Club’s retelling of Romeo and Juliet with fun physics demos. At my age, it’s about time I learned about ohms and joules. Although I do know the Davis campus is the home of Joules the Cow, mascot of our Energy and Engineering office in Facilities Management. Showtimes: 10 and 11 a.m., and 1 and 2 p.m., 66 Roessler Hall.

Meet the Microbes! — Come and explore the world of tiny things that have a big impact! This is a hands-on, minds-on exhibit where folks of all ages can learn about everyday microorganisms and marvel at living, bioluminescent art. 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 2079 and 2087 Katherine Esau Science Hall (the former Sciences Lab Building).

"FUN WITH WORDS" in Scrabble tiles

The Joy of Writing: The University Writing Program Ignites Fun With Words! — I saw the word “Scrabble” in the description for this exhibit, and I knew I had to stop by. University Writing Program faculty, staff and friends plan several activities: Build your own special bookmark (a Picnic Day keepsake), write words of wisdom on the Writing Wall or play a word on the biggest Scrabble board you’ve ever seen! 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Voorhies Hall southeast entrance.

Mosquito Control — With the very wet winter we just had, mosquitoes are likely to be extra problematic this spring and summer, making this exhibit a must stop, to learn about controlling the bugs and protecting yourself. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Briggs Hall entrance.

Wine barrels, standing on end
See how wine barrels are made.


Explore the Department of Viticulture and Enology! — One thing you can see here is the making of wine barrels. How cool is that? 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science courtyard.

Thermal Imaging Photo Booth and Meet a UAV—Come take a photo to remember Picnic Day 109 and meet our high-tech unmanned aerial vehicle. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Veihmeyer Hall courtyard.

Get to Know the UC Davis EcoCAR Team — Meet the student team designing an autonomous electric vehicle over the next four years. They’ll have information on electric vehicles and activities for the kids and will highlight STEM opportunities for all. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 1114 Academic Surge.

Other highlights



Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556, dateline@ucdavis.edu; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist

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