Naturally Illinois presents a scientific experience for UI

The second annual Naturally Illinois Expo will introduce state research about how to manage resources, the environment, and the economy from Saturday to Sunday.

The Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability (INRS) at the U of I will display baby Illinois turtles, a 30-ft. wind turbine powering scientific instruments, the opportunity to dig for fossils, and waste-derived biodiesel. The expo prides itself on hands-on opportunities for the public through INRS State Scientific Survey work.

The employee-run expo is designed to demonstrate the various fun aspects and careers in science.

New exhibits this year include “What Happens to Your Electronic Waste” demonstrating what can be done about “e-waste” such as discarded TVs and cell phones as well as how computers can be refurbished and reused.

Those who attend the expo will also be able to see the 372-ft. core of sediment extracted from a borehole by the Natural Resources Building during last year’s Expo. The core has enabled geologists of the INRS to reconstruct more than 300 million years of geologic history for the site.

The exhibit “Building a Sustainable Energy System in Haiti with Jatropha curcas” was planned long before the earthquake struck Haiti last month. INRS scientists have been helping Haitians produce fuel from renewable native resources such as Jatropha, a flowering shrub that grows throughout Haiti.

Other exhibits include “Understanding the Mahomet Aquifer” using computer modeling, “Climate Change in Illinois,” and “The Illinois Natural History Survey Herbarium,” a new “library” for plants currently under construction in the Champaign Research Park at the U of I.

Expo hours are Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Natural Resources Building, located at 607 E. Peabody Drive in Champaign. The third Earth, Wind, & Fire 5K Run and 2.5K Walk around campus will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 13. Additional information and registration can be found at the Expo Web site ( or call 217-244-2179.