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ACES Open House offers educational, entertaining, hands-on activities March 8, 9

Debra Levey Larson, communications specialist
(217) 244-2880;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Come to the Open House and send a plant to jail.

That’s what creators of an entertaining and educational exhibit hope children do when they identify invasive plant species at the exhibit, part of the ACES Open House at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Children will be encouraged to send non-native plants to the "slammer" in an Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant exhibit called "Arrest That Invader!" When they identify and imprison an invasive plant, children will be designated a Junior Plant Deputy. The exhibit will be in the Stock Pavilion, 1402 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Urbana.

This year, the Open House sponsored by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 8 and 9 (Friday and Saturday) at the south end of the UI campus.

This will be the 13th year that the college has opened its doors for a unique, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in some of the hundreds of labs, fields and greenhouses at the UI.

"We try to make it educational and entertaining," said Scottie Miller, director of special events for the college. "It has become a very popular annual event for the college and for the community. We have visitors all the way from nursery school to high school and beyond."
Every year there are some old favorites that people come to expect, but there are also always lots of new exhibits, too, Miller said.

One addition this year is an entire building: the octagonal ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, which was dedicated Oct. 4. In the atrium, visitors will be able to browse some ACES Web sites at an interactive computer exhibit. There will be bookmarked sites featuring information on nutrition, gardening, pest management and other topics.

Demonstrations are scheduled throughout the two-day event.

"One demonstration that’s always a lot of fun is watching the floral design students make an arrangement to music," Miller said. "Sometimes you’ll see a beautiful, floral wedding arrangement created to some soft, dreamy music, and other times it’s sunflowers and rock and roll. It’s interesting, too, because it’s timed so that the students have to get the arrangement done by the end of a song."

There also will be exhibits in which visitors can touch a giant cockroach, milk a cow, and, if they’re up to it, watch maggots "race."

A free brochure that include maps, a complete listing of exhibits and demonstrations, and information on parking and concessions will be available at any of the ACES Open House buildings.

On Friday, visitors can park for free in lot F-23 at the corner of First Street and St. Mary’s Road (near Assembly Hall) in Champaign, and take a free shuttle bus from the lot to the Open House. On Saturday, visitors can park for free along streets and in campus lots. The shuttle will run continuously both days to help visitors move easily from the Stock Pavilion, the Meat Science Laboratory (1503 S. Maryland, Urbana), Plant Sciences Laboratory (1201 S. Dorner Drive) and also to the College of Engineering Open House on the north end of campus.

More information about College of ACES Open House activities can be found online or by calling (217) 333-9355.