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This Saturday, November 13, the Math & Science Family Fun Fair will be held in Coffman Memorial Union. This is a free event for anyone interested in math and science. It begins at 10 a.m. and the first 750 people to arrive will receive free U of M backpacks!

The fair will feature hands-on exhibits and science-based presentations for students of all ages. I am excited to see the "Mystery Science Room," a new exhibit this year. It will be presented as a haunted laboratory and with spooky demonstrations. 

Student groups from the College of Science and Engineering will have exhibits, too.  Engineers without Borders, the U of M Steel Bridge Competition Team, and the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers will be there showcasing some of their groups' projects.

Physics Force will be performing at 10:30 a.m. and at noon in the Coffman Theater. This group is made up of local high school teachers and faculty from the School of Physics and Astronomy. They perform fascinating physics demonstrations; I learned some new tricks when I saw them last month.

There will also be a session by the Department of Chemistry called "Energy and U," which will explore different types of energy, how you can get it, where you can get it, and how you can store it. They will talk about the challenges that energy presents and their session (like every good chemistry demonstration) will include explosions, bright flashes, and flames! "Energy and U" will be performed twice--at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m in Coffman Theater.

Here are some of the exhibits I'm most excited to check out:

Uniting Water and People, presented by the students of Engineers Without Borders 

EWB is working with a community in Guatemala to get clean drinking water to their homes.

Sound Sandwiches, presented by The Works

This exhibit explores sound and vibration. Visitors can make their own wind instruments to make silly sounds.

Dam Busters, presented by the National Center for Eath-surface Dynamics (NCED)/Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL)

Learn about dam removal and river restoration projects performed by NCED and SAFL.  See a scale model of a current project at the Elwha River in Washington state where U of M scientists are researching the best ways to remove the dam without damaging the ecosystem.

Bridge Making, presented by the U of M Steel Bridge team

Build a model bridge from only newspaper and toothpicks! You will have 30 minutes to construct a bridge which will be tested for strength by members of the U of M's own Steel Bridge Competition Team.

Papermaking, presented by the U of M Bioproducts/Biosystems Engineering Student Chapter

Learn how to make paper from three types of fibers: white, recycled newspaper, and recycled cardboard boxes. You can make your own paper, and take it home with you!

I hope to see you there!

Research serves a vital role in the education of College of Liberal Arts (CLA) students. CLA Discovers highlights examples of teaching and research, creative work, learning and innovations from CLA faculty, staff and students.

For example, students studying Chinese had the opportunity to use their skills in translating the 1602 Ricci Map. Professor Ann Waltner, who has taught Chineses history since 1987, gathered a group of students and faculty to work on translating Classical Chinese from different departmental materials--one of which was the famous 1602 Ricci Map.

The map itself is one of only seven to have survived from the early 17th century and students here at the U of M had the privilege to work with this rare item! To read more about the map, check out "Veni, Vidi, Ricci" by CLA staffer Kelly O'Brien.

At the U of M, there are many students and faculty studying renewable energy. Some examples include building solar cars, designing solar houses, and researching wind power.  

We also have some professors and students studying another type of renewable energy: movement.

Professor Bill Robbins, associate head of the electrical and computer engineering, is an "energy scavenger." He is studying how to store and use electricity generated by people.  For example, pressing on a piece of plastic that can fit in the sole of your shoe can generate enough power to run a cell phone.

Rusen Yang, professor of mechanical engineering, is studying how to use nano-generators to produce electricity from anything that moves. By attaching pieces of plastic covered in nano-wires to a bridge vibrating from traffic, electricity can be produced. Even a hamster running in a wheel can produce electricity.

Just think...one day, this research might make it possible to charge your iPod by simply walking to class!

The Golden Gopher athletes are not only great at sports--our teams are also known for their giving spirit. Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community, known as M.A.G.I.C., provides student-athletes with volunteering and service opportunities. The group volunteers for Special Olympics, it has toy and food drives, visits hospitals, and more. 

Last year, student-athletes volunteered over 8,668 hours through M.A.G.I.C.! I think it's great that our student-athletes take time out of their very busy schedules to give back to the community. This Saturday, a bus will be parked outside Mariucci and Ridder Arena during the Golden Gopher mens and womens hockey games. M.A.G.I.C. will attempt to fill the bus with food items for Second Harvest Food Bank. 

Check out this article from KARE 11 news about the food drive.

Volunteering and community service are an important part of the U of M student experience--for athletes and non-athletes alike. For information on volunteer opportunities available to U of M students, check out www.engage.umn.edu/twincities, where you'll find student volunteer profiles, volunteer opportunities by interest, and more! 

The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) Dean's Engaged Leaders Program is a two-year program for incoming CFANS students who are committed to developing their potential to enhance our civic spaces through leadership, diversity, and stewardship of the urban, rural, and natural environment. 

This programs offers students the opportunity to explore multicultural communities around Minnesota and to learn how to improve community spaces through civic leadership.

The Dean's Engaged Leaders earn one credit every semester as they take a seminar involving community leaders from around the state of Minnesota. Students visit the White Earth Indian Reservation in the Fall, attend a retreat in the spring, and work on a number of different service projects.


                 Dean's Engaged Leaders at the White Earth Reservation. Photo courtesy of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The first year of the program focuses on mentorship opportunities and creating a strong foundation through the use of assessment tools to discover personal leadership styles. The second year of the program takes these newfound leadership skills and puts them to use with a long-term service learning experience and through close interactions with community leaders. This program can be a great fit for students who have an interest in leadership, community service, and diversity. 

If this sounds interesting to you, check out the Dean Engaged Leaders website for additional information about the program, including how to apply.

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