The University of Illinois College of ACES Alumni Association held its third annual ACES Family Academies on the Urbana-Champaign campus in early July. The concept? Invite alumni and friends of the college to bring their young friends back to campus for an overnight “college” experience.
Says Tina Veal, director of alumni relations for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the idea originated at Michigan State University. Veal says this year’s event at U of I attracted everyone from grandparents to parents to aunts, uncles and friends, and they all wanted to bring a young person in their life to campus. They attended “courses” for two days, spent the night in the dorms, ate in the dorm cafeterias and celebrated with a “graduation” at the end.
Courses were geared for ages 8 to 13 years, and students could choose from 19 courses, plus an evening program. They were held across the ag campus, and were taught by a combination of professors and Extension professionals.
Here’s a sampling of the courses:
• Where’s the Beef? Getting to Know Cows Inside and Out. Visit the U of I Beef Farm and get to know the cows up close and personal. Not only will you get to take a tour, but you will also get to stick your arm into a cow and learn all about beef cattle nutrition.
• The Secrets of Sausage. Explore the yummy herbs and spices that make sausage so delicious. You will make your own secret recipe and compete against the class to determine who is the best sausage maker.
• Magical Milk Lab. Learn about the different forms, functions and chemical processes that milk goes through to make the products we consume and enjoy. Make your own ice cream and eat it during class!
• Paper Airplanes and Drones in Ag. Small unmanned aerial vehicles may change the way farmers monitor their crops. Learn about ACES research using UAVs for monitoring crops, and get up close with several UAVs. Turn a paper airplane into a tiny smartphone-controlled UAV.
• Food Challenge. Are you up to the challenge? Work in teams using “mystery ingredients” to develop the most delicious and nutritious dish — in 30 minutes! Learn about food nutrition, safety and preparation as you create your edible masterpiece. Finish by presenting your dish to a panel of judges who will determine the winner!
• Skulls to Scat: Getting Familiar with Illinois Mammals. Immerse yourself in learning about Illinois mammals. From skulls to scat (animal poop), participants will get a hands-on understanding of habitat, diet and physical structure of many of Illinois’ most common mammals.
• Feed the Bees. Did you know that the U of I Pollinatarium is the country’s first freestanding science center devoted to flowering plants and their pollinators? Help our pollinators! Make a native-bee house, and then suit up and look inside a honeybee hive.
• Fun with Lego Mindstorms Robots! Learn how to program Lego Mindstorms robots, and work with them to complete different challenges. Program your robot to pick up various objects and avoid obstacles in its path. No previous experience is necessary.
Click through the slideshow of photos for a look at this year’s ACES Family Academies.