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Classes Without Quizzes features everyday science

March 1, 2012

Climate change, winemaking, healthy eating and invasive species are among the featured topics at this year’s “Classes Without Quizzes” on Saturday, March 31 at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

Nationally recognized experts from the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences will present mini-seminars designed for the general public, including students of all ages. The event will be from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with an optional lunch afterward.

Well-known climatologist, author and media personality Mark Seeley will present the keynote speech at 9 a.m. Climate scientists agree that three regional climate attributes are changing in Minnesota: higher temperatures, especially in winter and in overnight lows; more frequent high-dewpoint periods of sultry weather; and variable, increasing precipitation. These climate trends are clearly linked to measurable consequences: new plant hardiness zones, changes in agricultural drainage, and watershed management, transportation issues, public health concerns, and energy usage. Seeley will explain what’s changing now, what might change in the future and how Minnesotans’ lives will be affected.

The nine mini-seminars are:

Vines and Wines: An Introduction to U of M Grapes and the MN Wine Industry
Horticultural science professor Jim Luby will discuss the history of grape growing and winemaking in the state, current varieties' characteristics and how they are grown, and what makes a good vineyard site in Minnesota.

Is Higher Education Worth the Cost? An Economic Perspective
Applied Economics assistant professor Elton Mykerezi will explain how parents and students can analyze their own situations and will discuss why generalizations about the benefits of post-secondary education don’t work.

Should You Buy an Alternative Car for Economic and Environmental Reasons?
Applied Economics Extension educator Doug Tiffany will demonstrate an online decision tool he’s developed to help consumers compare economic costs and carbon footprints of most vehicles in today’s market.

Invaders From Other Ecosystems: How the Carp Got Here and What You Can Do About Them
Fisheries professor Peter Sorensen thinks the answer lies in a complex combination of factors that must be fully understood to solve the problem; he’ll explain how learning more about the carp might help reduce the damage they cause.

The New USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map: What it Means for Gardeners
Horticultural science professor Mary Meyer will explain how to use the new interactive map, where it is warmer in Minnesota, which new plants Minnesota gardeners may want to try, micro-climates around homes and how to take advantage of warmer or colder locations.

Got Carrots? Discovering the Effects of Plant Foods on Cancer Risk
Sabrina Peterson Trudo, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, shares her research on the effects of plant foods on cancer risk.

Eco-Palms, Preachers and Tropical Forest Conservation. What's the Connection?
For more than a decade, the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM) at the University of Minnesota has partnered with conservation and faith-based organizations as well as the private sector to help conserve tropical forests through the Eco-Palms program, which distributes sustainably harvested palm leaves to church-goers throughout the United States every Palm Sunday. Dean Current, research associate in the Department of Forest Resources, directs CINRAM.

Feeding a Hungry World
Learn how scientists are working to make farming in the world's most challenging agricultural areas more productive and profitable. Department of Applied Economics professor Phil Pardey is co-director of the Gates Foundation’s HarvestChoice initiative, a global information and decision-making resource that is deeply involved in this research.

No Longer a Ticket to a Job: Leveraging the College Experience for Career Success
Career and Internship Services Director Sara Nagel Newberg and CFANS Admissions Director Stacie Vennewitz will discuss strategies to help students compete effectively in the modern job market. Using anecdotes as well as survey data, they’ll explore the behaviors that lead to success for college graduates. They’ll also discuss factors to consider when selecting a college or major program.

This year’s kids' sessions, presented by staff from the Bell Museum of Natural History and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, are aimed at two groups: kindergartners through second graders, and third- through sixth-graders. Each group will study plants and pollinators, and tour the Bell Museum’s Exploradome.

Registration for Classes Without Quizzes costs $30 with discounts for University of Minnesota Alumni Association members and students. An optional lunch following the seminars is $10.

For information and to register, go to: or call (612) 624-0822.

Twin Cities Campus: