staff, September 26, 2015

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During football and basketball games, BTN LiveBIG will spotlight notable examples of research, innovation and community service from around the conference. In-Game stories will provide more background on these features, and the opportunity to view the videos again.

Going to college with your grandparents might not sound too appealing to an undergrad. But a program at the University of Wisconsin called Grandparents University is giving young children and their older relatives a chance to learn side-by-side on the school?s campus, and it?s drawing rave reviews from its participants.

?The University of Wisconsin-Madison started Grandparents University back in 2001,? said Kate Prehn, program director for GPU. ?[The program] is a great opportunity for the grandparents and grandchildren to come to [UW-Madison], to spend time together learning about one of the 25 different majors that we have. They learn about the major, they learn about campus, but - most importantly - they learn about each other and they learn together.?

From astronomy to cartography, engineering to entomology, and social robotics to South Pole science, the various ?majors? offered at the pioneering program are designed to appeal to ?students? old and new.

[btn-post-package]Over the course of two days, children between ages 7-14 join their grandparent(s) in an immersive experience mirroring not just the rigors of academia, but also the spirit of campus life. The multi-generational classmates stay overnight in the dorms and attend courses taught by real university instructors.

?It?s a great learning experience for the grandchildren, but more importantly, it?s the most fantastic bonding experience you can have with your grandchildren,? said Jere Fluno, remembering the weather balloon his family launched from the top of a building in pursuit of their Meteorology major.

?We studied 3-D printing and rapid ? photo ? what was it?? added his wife, Anne.

?Remodeling,? Jere replied. ?Anything longer than three words for people our age is a little difficult.?

In the GPU labs, learners of all generations have the opportunity to utilize technology they likely wouldn?t have access to elsewhere, including advanced 3-D printers and DNA samplers.

?All of the kids love coming here,? said grandparent Lee Wnuk. ?When [the grandchildren] get their hands on any lab equipment ? they just go nuts. Here you are one-on-one in a different environment. You can see the wheels spinning in their heads as the professors are explaining thing to them, and it is amazing how quick they can grasp any new concept. It?s just a wonderful experience.?