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STEM Discovery Day Activities

Workshop Descriptions for STEM Discovery Day

Augmented Reality and Optical Mineralogy (Environmental Science)
This activity is an introduction to some of the tools in Earth Science, and is split between two activities. View the Earth’s surface using augmented reality, which can superimpose graphics onto models of the landscape to help interpret geological processes. Then look at rocks and minerals under a microscope to understand their chemistry, formation,and geological history.

Behind the Scenes Astronomy Movie (Astronomy)
Come to the full-dome Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium for a 30 minute look at a day in the life of as an astronomer. 

Charlie & the Chocolate Lab (Chemical Engineering)
Come learn the process of making a better chocolate, from source to tasting. Chemical engineers from the Swenson College of Science & Engineering’s Chocolate Lab walk you through the steps of fine chocolate production, including a focus on social justice and sustainability. 

Chemical Sleuthing (Astronomy)
Learn how to use the properties of light to investigate the chemical composition of far away heavenly bodies. 

The Chemistry of Taste (Biochemistry)
Genetics plays a role in what we can taste and how strongly we perceive certain tastes. For example, cilantro tastes like soap to some, but to others it is a delicious herb. This is linked to the PTC gene, which demonstrates the heredity of taste. We will go through the genetics component and biochemistry of receptor/substrate in a short lecture. Then, you will taste 'PTC strips' and note whether they taste or not and will dye your tongue blue with dum dums to be able to count the # of taste buds in a small area. We will use statistics to determine  how many of you are 'supertasters', 'tasters' and 'non tasters'.

Cleaning up the Mess- Oil Spills and Environmental Cleanup (Hydrology)
As long as petroleum powers our industrial society there will always be a potential for spills or other accidents. Learn how environmental scientists use their skills to clean oil spills and restore the natural environment to its original condition.

College Prep Group (Various activities- all day! 10th-12th grade only)
This is a full day option to spend half the day learning tips and tricks to prepare for college (asking questions to current college students, learning about financial aid, scholarships and application tips) and the other half of the day touring select Swenson College of Science & Engineering research labs. Seniors will have extra chat time with current UMD students during the discussion time.

Contaminant Detective (Environmental Engineering)
Use DNA extraction and monitoring equipment to determine contamination sources in the water. This process is applicable to both natural and built environments. 

Effect of Temperature on Cricket Respiration  (Biology)
Poikilotherms, or cold-blooded organisms, vary their metabolic rates with the ambient temperature of their environment. To create usable energy, the organism’s metabolism breaks down stored sugars which can be measured through oxidative respiration. In this activity, we will subject crickets (invertebrates) to multiple different temperatures via ice or hot water baths. You will collect real-time data using a carbon dioxide meter to determine how crickets respire under different temperatures. 

Environments on Venus, Earth, and Mars (Planetary Geology)
The surface of Venus is a constant 872 degrees Fahrenheit with clouds of sulfuric acid. The surface of Mars can vary from -200 to 65 ˚F in 24 hours. Despite these extreme conditions, the geological environments on these planets are remarkably similar to Earth. Walk on surfaces of Venus, Earth, and Mars and view the topographic features in 3D with the floor maps in Heller Hall. Compare the topography and use surface geological features to study tectonics and planet surface processes

Iskigamizigan- Anishinaabe Maple Sugar Camp (Natural Resources)
Each year the UMD chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) has hosted a "sugar bush" camp, or Iskigamizigan in the Bagley Nature Area on the UMD campus. Come learn about how to harvest and process sap and participate in the process. Dress warm and enjoy samples of traditional foods, including maple syrup. This activity is 1 hour long and will only be offered to two groups.

Make It and Shake It- Building for Earthquakes (Structural Engineering)
Construct buildings from K'nex and test your engineering skills with simulated earthquakes on a shake table. Come learn basic principles in structural dynamics and structural stability and learn about building technologies that can mitigate damage from earthquakes.

Mechanical & Industrial Engineering- Tools of the Trade (Mechanical & Industrial Engineering)
Come learn how UMD uses its waterjet cutter and 3D printer in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department

Nano-grid for Self-sufficient Houses (Electrical Engineering)
See how renewable energy is harvested from solar panels and a wind turbine and converted and transmitted between an energy storage device and a unity grid. See small-scale nano-grid prototypes that produce their own energy and have their own energy storage. When the renewable energy generated by the renewable sources is more than demand, the surplus will be stored in the energy storage device or pumped back to the utility grid. When the energy from renewable energy sources is not enough to meet demands from house appliances, additional energy will be supplied by grid or energy storage devices. Gain hands-on experience on building a similar, simplified system.

Physics Circus (Physics)
Come join a three-ring adventure as you make your way through a room filled with various activities and experiments demonstrating physics phenomena. 

Playing with Planaria (Developmental Biology)
Perform experiments with this model organism, a freshwater flatworm,  with extraordinary rehabilitation powers. 

Sugar Structures (Materials Engineering)
Come learn the principles behind toughening materials for structural application, including those used in the aerospace industry.

Water Contamination & Treatment (Civil Engineering)
Come participate in this short demonstration of how large amounts of water can become contaminated with a small amount of contaminant. You will see how wastewater is filtered to remove contaminants and discuss the importance of this process.

Virtual Birding (Ecology)
You will learn about the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's multiple live bird cameras while conducting real time citizen science.