SALT LAKE CITY — High school students got some hands-on experience with science Saturday at the University of Utah.

In one classroom, a boy stood perfectly still as a bowling ball on a long rope he released came within millimeters of his nose on the return. In another, eight young men and women gingerly stretched 30 feet of human intestine across the room.

More than 700 students from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada participated in the U.'s 26th annual Science Day. Several volunteers who helped put on the event wore T-shirts reading, "Talk Nerdy To Me."

University professors taught 29 workshops with titles such as "The Science of Death and Mayhem," "Drunker Sailors in Disordered Cities" and "Demo-licious Physics."

"I don't do any demonstrations but I have barf bags," forensic dentist Doug Wyler said before launching into his real-life CSI slide show.

Woods Cross High School sophomore Alexa Davis didn't find the photos of decaying and mutilated bodies too gruesome.

"It wasn't gross," she said, adding she likes forensics.

Davis said she also attended the U.'s Engineering Day a few weeks ago.

"There's so many cool classes. The experience that they give is more than you can find in just a regular high school," she said. "I like it because I can explore all the different realms of science to see what I'm interested in before I go to college."

State officials place high emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math or STEM education, saying there will be thousands of jobs in those fields available in Utah when today's high school students graduate from college. The Utah Legislature put an additional $20 million into STEM education this year.

Joshua Martin, a junior at the Academy of Math Engineering and Science, already has a head start. He's concurrently enrolled at the U. taking computer classes and will graduate high school with an associate degree.

"I just enjoy science in almost all of its forms," he said, adding he's particularly interested in mechanical, material and aerospace engineering.

Martin said the daylong event allows students to dabble in many areas. "It's just kind of a cool way to open your eyes and learn a little more," he said.

Keynote speaker Kirk Ririe, CEO of BioFire Defense, told students to learn to lie to themselves about what they can accomplish or, in other words, think big. He told them do something that goes beyond what their professors teach them.

"Develop something new," he said, "and change the world."

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