Young Scientist Roundtable

  • A monthly program designed for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and their parents to learn about exciting ideas and developments presented by professors and prominent experts in many scientific fields presented at Central Middle School. All programs are always free and no registration is required. The main presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. and is generally followed by a "Teen Roundtable" where students can participate in an in-depth discussion and question/answer session with the speaker. Programs are recorded for playback on ED's TV and a number of programs may be viewed online.
    Watch this website in the near future and then mark your calendars for the next exciting season of Young Scientist Roundtable programs held at Central Middle School (305 Vicksburg Lane North, Plymouth).

    2016-2017 School Year was a Very Successful 25th Season!

    These programs were featured during 2016-2017:
    Monday, September 26
    "Comets: The Treasure Chest in the Cosmic Attic"
    Dr. Charles Woodward, University of Minnesota School of Physics & Astronomy
    Monday, October 24
    "Symmetry, Invariants, Puzzles and Cancer" (Video of Main Presentation)
    Dr. Peter Olver, University of Minnesota School of Mathematics
    Tuesday, November 15
    "Honeycrisp Apples"
    Dr. James Luby, University of Minnesota Dept. of Horticultural Science
    Monday, December 5
    "Engineering Wearable Systems: From Sportswear to Spacesuits"
    Dr. Lucy E. Dunne, University of Minnesota Apparel Design/Wearable Technology Lab
    Tuesday, January 10, 2017
    "The Role of Organic Chemistry in Discovering Small Molecules"
    Dr. William Pomerantz, University of Minnesota Organic Chemistry Associate Professor
    Monday, February 6
    "Engineering Solutions for Construction Projects"
    Ann M. Johnson, PE, President of Professional Engineering Services, Minneapolis
    Monday, March 6
    "Astronomy of the Sun"
    Dr. Lindsay Glesener, University of Minnesota Department of Physics and Astronomy
    Monday April 17
    "Environmental Engineering"
    Dr. Paige Novak, University of Minnesota Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

    Monday December 5
    "Engineering Wearable Systems: From Sportswear to Spacesuits"
    Dr. Lucy E. Dunne, University of Minnesota Apparel Design/Wearable Technology Lab
    YSR Lucy Dunn Like food and shelter, clothing is an important part of everyday life for most people. It is so common that we often take it for granted. Yet, clothing is the first barrier between our human bodies and the outside world. Since the very earliest forms of clothing, it has provided essential functions like thermal insulation and protection from the sun. It has also communicated our status and identity. More advanced clothing forms need to cover additional functions which is done by resorting to wearable technology. This technology addresses the ability for clothing to understand the context and much more complex needs of the wearer and respond appropriately. Computer science and robotics are playing a critical role in clothing design. Dr. Dunne talks about the roots of clothing functionality as well as the cutting edge of how future clothing might look, function, and feel.
    Tuesday November 15
    "Honeycrisp Apples"
    apple Dr. James Luby, University of Minnesota Department of Horticultural Science
    Apple breeding at the University of Minnesota has been ongoing since 1908 and has produced 28 varieties including Minnesota favorites such as Honeycrisp and Haralson. Apple breeding involves both the science of genetics and the craft of identifying fruit with desirable properties such as taste, flavor, color and texture. This presentation covered how breeders develop new apple varieties that are adapted to our region and provide delightful fruit for apple consumers and apple processors.
    Monday October 24
    "Symmetry, Invariants, Puzzles, and Cancer"
    YSR Olver Dr. Peter Olver, University of Minnesota School of Mathematics
    Basic problems in image processing include recognizing when two objects are the same and classifying what are the similarities, or symmetries. But to solve the problems, one must understand what about the objects that are not alike, the invariants. This talk introduced the basics of groups, their symmetries and their invariants as illustrated by simple examples and pictures... and was followed by recent applications to automated jigsaw puzzle assembly and cancer detection.
    Monday, September 26
    "Comets: The Treasure Chest in the Cosmic Attic"
    YSR Woodward Dr. Charles Woodward, University of Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
    Solar system formation is a process that combines and transforms ices, organics and dust grains into a variety of objects, and ultimately into planets. Comets, formed at the beginning of this process, contain these materials as well as material transported from hotter regions closer to the sun. Do these materials of the comet contain clues as to what happens in planet formation? The program explored this idea, talking about the Rosetta/Philae comet-landing mission and glimpsed at the astrobiological importance of these cosmic wanderers!
    Dr. Woodward mentioned several books for further insights:
    T Rex and the Crater of Doom, 1977 Walter Alvarez (Princeton U. Press)
    Five Billion Years of Solitude, 2013 Lee Billings, (Current / Penguin)
    Dr. Woodward also spoke to young scientists on December 1, 2009 about "Water on the Moon?: NASA L-CROSS Mission". Watch a short video excerpt of Dr. Woodward talking about education and training for careers in science.
    Lake Minnetonka Magazine recently printed an article about Young Scientist Roundtable (August 2016) "Wayzata Young Scientist Roundtable Program Invites Experts to Connect with Students and Parents"

    Looking Back at Some Recent Programs:

    January 13, 2016 – "The Theory of Relativity"
    Dr. Terry Jones, University of Minnesota Department of Physics and Astronomy
    Albert Einstein is famous for his Theory of Relativity, but many people do not know that he actually developed two theories. The first is called the Special Theory of Relativity, which explains what happens to objects moving at speeds close to the speed of light relative to each other, but does not include the effects of gravity. Einstein later developed his General Theory of Relativity which includes gravity and led to our current understanding of the Universe as a whole. Dr. Jones focused on the Special Theory of Relativity, which is surprisingly accessible to students, and forces us to think differently about time and space. He also covered the General Theory of Relativity and how both profoundly important theories are used in nearly all of our current technologies. And he discussed Black Holes in Outer Space.
    October 5, 2015 – "A New Era of Discovery: In Search of Earth-Like Planets"
    Dr. Steven Kawaler, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa
    The past few years have seen some amazing discoveries of planets orbiting other stars -- solar systems that are in some cases very different from our own. To make these discoveries possible, astronomers have developed ways to detect these planets despite the tremendous glare from the stars that they orbit. In this presentation we will look at examples of how to find planets around other stars, and sample the variety of planetary systems that populate our galaxy -- concentrating on results from NASA's Kepler Spacecraft. The next decade will see new discoveries with spacecraft in the planning stage that will probe the atmospheres of nearby planets and, perhaps, find evidence for life on one of these extrasolar planets.
    February 2, 2015 – "The Amazing World of Modern Optics"
    Dr. James Leger is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota where his research group is studying a wide variety of optical techniques, including laser mode control and beam shaping techniques, spectral and coherent laser beam combining, optical metrology, solar energy optics, design of nonclassical imaging systems and microoptical engineering. Holograms were demonstrated during the Teen Roundtable.
    Dr. Leger's program is now posted online: Main Presentation and Teen Roundtable
    November 11, 2014 – "Emerging Infectious Diseases: Looking Into a Crystal Ball"
    Dr. Michael T. Osterholm has appeared several times at Young Scientist Roundtable. He is Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota and worked previously as the state epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health. His appointments include the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity and the World Economic Forum Working group on Pandemics. Dr. Osterholm had been traveling, meeting and speaking extensively about the Ebola outbreak in the Fall of 2014. He spoke to young scientists to discuss his work on this important disease crisis as it was unfolding, along with other infectious diseases of concern around the world.
    Dr. Osterholm's program is now posted online: Main Presentation and Question & Answer (Teen Roundtable)
    The program was first played back on ED's TV on Thursday-Sunday January 22-25, 2015.
    October 6, 2014 – "Air Quality Engineering to Combat Air Pollutants"
    Dr. Julian Marshall, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota. According to the World Health Organization, urban air pollution is one of the top ten cases of death in high-income countries. How we can reduce those health effects and improve public health was a focus of this presentation. Dr. Marshall discussed pollutants from various types of fuels (such as fossil, biofuel), and computer modeling to reduce exposure to them. The goal was to understand whether biofuels are better for human health and the environment than the fossil fuels they replace. The discussion covered a range of scenarios from an urban U.S. locality to a rural village in India or Uganda.
    March 2, 2015 – "Leukemia: The Search for a Cure"
    Young Scientist Roundtable was pleased to announce the return of Dr. John Wagner, a Professor of Pediatrics and Executive Director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Center at the University of Minnesota.
    Dr. Wagner's program is now posted online: Main Presentation and Teen Roundtable
    He also spoke to young scientists about "Biological Revolution: Stem Cells" on March 11, 2009.

    Young Scientist Roundtable Programs and Videos

    Online videos of selected Young Scientist Roundtable Presentations and Teen Roundtables are posted on the webpage that features the information and links for each individual program. Programs available for online viewing include:
    "Symmetry, Invariants, Puzzles and Cancer" - Dr. Peter Olver (October 24, 2016)
    "Designing Structures to Resist Earthquakes" - Dr. Catherine French (February 29, 2016)
    "Theory of Relativity" - Dr. Terry Jones (January 13, 2016)
    "Traumatic Head Injury" - Dr. Andrew Grande (December 1, 2015)
    "Saving Minnesota's Butterflies from Extinction" - Dr. Erik Runquist (November 2, 2015)
    "In Search of Earth-Like Planets" - Dr. Steve Kawaler (October 5, 2015)
    "Leukemia: The Search for a Cure" - Dr. John Wagner (March 2, 2015)
    "The Amazing World of Modern Optics" - Dr. James Leger (February 2, 2015)
    "New Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury" - Dr. Ann Parr (January 6, 2015)
    "Emerging Infectious Diseases" - Dr. Michael Osterholm (October 6, 2014)
    "The Amazing World of Fluid Dynamics" - Dr. Paul Strykowski (February 5, 2013)
    "Exploring Great Mysteries About Prime Numbers" (January 8, 2013) (main presentation)
    "Entomology and Death: Solving Mysteries with Maggots" - Ms. Val Cervenka (March 6, 2012)
    "Computers, Robots and You" - Mr. Robert Stephens (February 6, 2012)
    "Honeybee Health" - Dr. Marla Spivak (November 9, 2010)
    "The Science of French Fries" - Mr. Cecil Massie (February 1, 2000) (in honor of the State Fair!)
    Watch for more program videos to be posted online here on the Young Scientist Roundtable website.
    Check the YSR Program Archives for information and details of previous year's programs.
    Check the YSR Video Gallery for video segments of programs, the program opening, and other videos of interest.

    News of Interest

    "Honeybees on the Brink"
    The Star Tribune published a series on the decline of honeybees in September 2014, including a feature on Dr. Marla Spivak entitled "A Scientist's Aim: Save the Bees".Dr. Spivak spoke to young scientists on November 9, 2010.
    University of Minnesota Researchers Unveil New Apple Variety
    Dr. Luby The new fruit is a cross between the Honeycrisp and the MonArk, according to apple researcher Jim Luby, director of the University's fruit crops breeding project, as reported in the Pioneer Press in October 2014. Mr. Luby was at Young Scientist Roundtable on November 15, 2016 and earlier on October 5, 2010 to speak on "The Birth of the Honeycrisp Apple".
    The Ebola Epidemic is About to Get Worse. Much Worse
    Politico published this article by Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota on September 30, 2014. Dr. Osterholm returned to Young Scientist Roundtable on Tuesday November 11 to talk about the current Ebola outbreak. He also presented "An Infectious Disease Medical Detective in a Modern World" to young scientists in November 2008.
    Dr. John Ohlfest (Posted January 24, 2013)
    Dr. Ohlfest Young Scientist Roundtable regrets the passing of Dr. John Ohlfest, who was a pioneering brain tumor researcher and a friend of YSR. In December of 2011, Dr. Ohlfest gave a presentation that was an outstanding example of service in science and to the community. The picture to the left shows him sketching gene interactions during his Teen Roundtable session with students, which can be viewed in a video. The full YSR program, along with the program featuring his colleague and research partner Dr. G. Elizabeth Pluhar, have both been shown on ED's TV and can be viewed online. We extend our sympathies to Dr. Ohlfest's family, friends, and colleagues. Minnesota Public Radio news story.
    Ever wonder how a knuckleball (in baseball) seems to defy the laws of aerodynamics? This was just one of many interesting aspects of the February 5, 2013 program on Physics and Fluid Dynamics presented by Dr. Paul Strykowski. Watch this knuckleball video clip.