The 12th Annual Classes Without Quizzes program was held Saturday, April 6 in the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul Campus.
Session 1 Topics
Session 2 Topics
Kids' Edition Program
- Kids' Edition program begins
Presented by Michael Sadowsky
The Mississippi River is one of the Earth’s largest and most important waterways, yet we know little about the most common organisms populating this system. We have been using new DNA sequence technology to provide a more complete understanding of the impact of human activity on the Mississippi River, with the goal of improving water quality and improving public understanding of the importance of this river to the well-being of the people and industries in the Mississippi watershed. The DNA tools we will use are called metagenomics and this provides us a way to understand, for the first time, more about the microbiology of the river than we currently know through traditional microbiological analyses. Water is an increasingly strained resource -- even here in Minnesota where it seems plentiful -- and the public needs to know more about how to use this resource wisely.
The recent expansion of the craft brewing industry in the United States has been astonishing. As beer drinkers increasingly favor local beers, many brewers are seeking local ingredients. Hops are an important brewing ingredient, but commercial production is currently limited to a few growing regions. U of M horticultural scientist Charlie Rohwer will discuss the history of hops and use of hops in beer, botany and cultivation of hops, and trends in hop production in the upper Midwest. Barley is another key ingredient in beer. U of M plant geneticist Gary Muehlbauer will discuss the history of barley, development of barley varieties, trends in barley production in the Midwest, and the history of beer and its impact on human societies.
Today, scientists decode entire genomes in a matter of days, but just ten years ago, genome sequencing was difficult, slow and cost many millions of dollars. With advances in sequencing technology, "re-sequencing" a human genome (or the genome of most living things) now costs just a few thousand dollars. What can scientists learn from so much sequence data? How are the fields of biotechnology, medicine, food, agriculture, and environmental science transformed by massive genomic data? What special computational tools are needed? And finally, who owns DNA sequence data and what are the ethical, legal and social impacts of access to so much genetic information? Nevin Young, a professor with joint appointments in the departments of Plant Pathology and Plant Biology will lead a discussion exploring these questions.
For better or worse, the world is shrinking as rates of introduction of new insects are increasing. The emerald ash borer was discovered in Michigan just over 10 years ago and continues to spread from the Midwest, killing native ash trees in its wake. In this presentation Entomology professor Brian Aukema will share the latest on this little green beastie and how it could change your street or backyard. Please note: no ash borers allowed.
Over the past year there has been much excitement surrounding the importance of soils in our lives. In 2012, the Minnesota State Legislature designated Lester loam as the official state soil of Minnesota, the traveling Smithsonian exhibit on soils called “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” is currently showing at the Bell Museum, and the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate is celebrating its centennial in 2013. Carl Rosen, a professor with the Department of Soil Water and Climate, will highlight how maintaining a healthy soil will in turn support a vibrant community. Particular emphasis will be focused on improving the quality of urban soils for gardening and food production.
The milk you had for breakfast this morning may very well have come from a cow that was milked with an automatic milking system (robot). And the cow that produced that milk was fed with an automatic calf feeder (robot). These are just some of the growing technologies being implemented on Minnesota dairy farms. Robotic milking is growing rapidly in the upper Midwest ; more than 50 Minnesota farms already use milking robots. Even more farms have robotic calf feeders. Extension educator Jim Salfer and Animal Science professor Jeffrey Reneau will discuss these new technologies and explain robots in action and how cows are adapting.
Resources for this presentation:
- Copy of PowerPoint slides
Humans face a broad range of problems, from cancer and pollution, to energy sources and food supply. The biomimicry field approaches such problems by looking at how diverse organisms have solved similar problems over evolutionary time. Emilie Snell-Rood, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (College of Biological Sciences) will discuss classic examples in biomimicry, such as adhesives development inspired by gecko feet, or passively cooled buildings inspired by termite mounds. Explore how can we use knowledge of selective environments or evolutionary relationships to find species which have solved problems relevant to medicine, agriculture, engineering or architecture.
Presented by Don Wyse, Amanda Martin and Michael Kantar
Perennial plants have the power to transform both our environment and personal-care products. Lotion, lipstick, shampoo and similar products need antimicrobial and antioxidant chemicals to prevent spoilage; perennial plants can provide safer, ecologically conscious, consumer-supported preservatives. Even better, perennial plants – like the sunflower – show promise as a sustainable crop that helps maintain healthy soil, control erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. Everybody wins!
Resources related to this presentation:
- Forever Green Project
- Copy of PowerPoint slides
University Youth & Community Programs has a morning packed with hands on enrichment and recreation activities planned for youth. Participants will be divided into small groups of similar ages and spend approximately an hour in each activity led by experienced staff and specialty instructors. Youth will discover unique features around the St Paul Campus while participating in a geocaching treasure hunt. An introduction to rock climbing will have youth testing their skills, and then on to creating crazy concoctions in Professor Sepoc’s Food Messology with hands on science experiments. All youth must wear athletic/tennis shoes, clothes for physical activities and weather appropriate clothing for outdoors. No previous skills or experience required; sign up for fun and learning at Classes without Quizzes: Kids’ Edition!