About 500 fifth-graders from underserved schools will examine meteorites and animal bones, act in theatre games and participate in other educational activities during a college-exploration day Friday at the University of Central Florida.

As part of the third annual Achieve a College Education Day developed by UCF’s Burnett Honors College, students from five elementary schools will meet with more than 150 UCF student volunteers of different majors, tour campus and engage with faculty.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and it aims to provide the fifth-graders with the understanding that they could one day go on to college.

“One of the fundamental issues is that so many young people don’t even know that college is an option for them,” said Kelly Astro, the college’s director of research and civic engagement. “By bringing the students to UCF, we say, ‘This is what going to college is,’ and then we reinforce the ways in which you get there.”

The event will begin in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union, where students will be greeted by UCF cheerleaders. Next, the students will be divided into teams of 25, each led by several volunteers, to participate in presentations relating to majors in STEM and the arts.

Students will also have the chance to eat lunch with Knightro and UCF athletes by the Reflecting Pond and tour one of the university’s residence halls. ACE Day will close with a performance by Rukus, one of the student dance organizations on campus.

“The goal is to have students walk away from this experience knowing that they can go to college and major in the subjects that interest them,” said Astro. “There is nothing more rewarding than to hear the children leaving that day say ‘I’m going to UCF’ or ‘I’m going to college,’ and inevitably, you hear that echoed in a chorus as they are walking out.”

ACE Day began in 2011 in partnership with WORKFORCE Central Florida and Orange County Public Schools’ Advancement via Individual Determination program, in which honors students complete service-learning projects in the fall of their freshman year. The event targets students prior to starting middle school so that they can line up the proper classes in order be prepared for more advanced high school coursework.