That's a wrap on the 2024 Family Academies!

We had the best time welcoming 127 participants from 43 families back to campus for the 2024 ACES Family Academies on July 10-12. 


If you would like to join us next year, please mark our tentative 2025 dates and join us July 16-18, 2025.  Until then, enjoy photos from this year's event here.


2024 Sessions

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  • Garden Quest: The Plant Pursuit

Students will learn botanical characteristics that are important for the identification of horticultural plants. Students will use this knowledge to participate in a Botanical Scavenger Hunt.

  • Junior Wildlife Scientist

Learn about both the latest technology and the time-proven tools used in wildlife research. Try your hand at some of the skills you would use as a wildlife researcher! Part of the session will be outdoors weather permitting.

  • The Power of Yeast

Join us to learn about the science behind bread! We will do an experiment to explore the capabilities of the micro-machines that turn flour and water into delicious bread. Bring your curiosity and get ready to learn all about yeast, fermentation, and food science!

  • Trading Makes Everyone Happy

We will engage student in an interactive trading game that will illustrate the benefits of engaging in trade. Students will rate individual preference for candy, being given an endowment of candy, and trade candy based on their preference. Once trading is done, student will report back to the group their gains from trade while enjoying candy!

  • Ag Robots: The Future of Farming

The usage of robots in agriculture is growing. We will talk about the current and future use of robots on farms. Attendees will build and program a small robot during the session.

  • Flower Hour!

Learn how to use flowers and greenery to make floral arrangements that your family will love! Take one home with you to show off your handiwork!

  • What's Poppin'?  NEW MATERIAL!

This all new session explores how ACES researchers are developing new varieties of popcorn using robots, machine vision, and AI. Come learn about the intersection of genetics and physics that create the official snack food of Illinois while participating in hands-on demonstrations.

  • Sausage 101: Learn to Make Your Own!

Pork, seasoning and more! From preparation to plate, learn how to make our own sausage at home.  Course will cover ingredient selection, safe food handling techniques and proper cooking temperatures for meat products.

  • Food for Health

In this session our team would present an educational component for the kids, talking about different food groups and different nutritional properties of foods. The educational piece would be followed up by a hands-on activity of the kids getting to build their own mini pizzas!

  • Get Up and Dance!

Looking for a fun, approachable way to incorporate movement into daily life? Get Up and Dance! Basic dance skills are presented through games and activities that help facilitate an increase in physical activity, a healthy lifestyle, and decrease potential injury. Explore stretching, mindfulness, and hip-hop dance style in an inviting environment.

  • Be Our Guest!

In a brand-new session, participants get to create their own restaurant with the ACES Hospitality team!  Learn all about the Spice Box, our exclusive restaurant offering meals for one night only, and create your own restaurant by picking the theme and menu!

  • From Cells to Snacks

Have you ever heard that bacteria and yeast are the future of food and wondered how that could possibly be true? Learn about precision fermentation, liquid-solid separations, and the science behind how alternative protein is made from IBRL’s team of expert engineers and food scientists.

  • Smart Agriculture: Sensors and Automation

To help us be efficient in feeding the world, sensors and automation will play an important part in the future of agriculture. In this session we will explore some different ways we measure environmental conditions and set up automatic systems with sensors. Participants will get to build and program a small "smart farm".

  • Storytelling through Agricultural Communications

In this 60-minute workshop, students will dive into the dynamic worlds of marketing and communications. Inspired by iconic brands like Pepsi, participants will discover the art of storytelling and brand building. Through hands-on activities, they'll transform their parent or guardian into a brand ambassador, crafting compelling narratives for social media.

  • Pumped Up for Pumpkins!

Illinois leads the nation in pumpkin production—did you know that around 90% of the pumpkins that we find canned in our grocery stores were grown in Illinois?  Learn more about this highly nutritious “super food”. We will prepare several recipes using pumpkin and talk about the best varieties to use in cooking. And, of course, taste and enjoy the “fruits” of our labor!

  • Conquering the #1 Pest

Weeds are the toughest menace which rob resources from young, developing crops. Learning to defy them starts with sharpening your detective skills to correctly identify the offending species, then strategizing from the arsenal of control opportunities so the crop can triumph to its full potential!

Schedule of Events

Here's what your Family Academies experience will look like:

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

  • 3:00PM - 5:00PM: Check-In at Bousfield Hall
  • 4:45PM - 6:00PM: Dinner in Ikenberry Dining Hall
  • 6:15PM - 7:15PM: Orientation and Meet-and-Greet Event
  • 7:30PM - 9:00PM: Evening Activity

Thursday, July 11, 2024

  • 7:00AM - 8:30AM: Breakfast at Ikenberry Dining Hall
  • 7:30AM - 8:30AM: Late Check-In Option
  • 9:00AM - 3:30PM: Opening Session and Sessions 1-3
  • 5:00PM - 6:30PM: Cookout Dinner at ACES Stock Pavilion
  • 7:00PM - 8:00PM: Evening Activities

Friday, July 12, 2024

  • 7:00AM - 8:30AM: Breakfast at Ikenberry Dining Hall
  • 9:00AM - 10:00AM: Session 4
  • 11:00AM - 11:45AM: Graduation
  • 12:00PM - 2:00PM: Check-Out at Bousfield Hall

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