Grandparents University 2021

2021 Program Information

Important dates

Register by April 30 to receive your GPU Pride Pack before July 6

Tuesday, July 6 through Friday, July 9: Grandparents University 2021 virtual program

Tuesday, July 6 through Saturday, July 31: Grandparents University pre-recorded and downloadable program content available


When to register: Everyone on the GPU mailing list who is also a Wisconsin Alumni Association member or recognized in Van Hise Society, Bascom Hill Society, or 1848 Society received an email on March 22 inviting them to register for the program. A WAA ID number is required to register for the program, and it was included in the email sent to those eligible to register. Because there are no capacity limitations this year, registration will remain open through May.

Program cost: $35 per person

What’s included in the program cost: Pre-recorded content from several GPU majors, virtual evening activities, and a GPU pride pack mailed to each participant household. The GPU pride pack includes an official GPU 2021 t-shirt, postcards for grandparents and grandchildren to send to one another, and spirited stickers. 


Participants will be able to explore all of the majors in this virtual format. You will not need to rank your major preferences for 2021. Each major will have a “recommended age” between 7—15 years old. Majors will feature the following:

  • Downloadable worksheets
  • Pre-recorded videos from GPU instructors
  • Web links to learn more about every subject matter

Below is a list of current majors participating in GPU 2021. You can also read a description for each major.

  • Animal Ecology and Experiments – Students in this major will learn how the presence or absence of different animals and plants can tell a story about what’s happening around us. This is a great opportunity to learn more about your neighborhood!
  • Astronomy – How big is Jupiter compared to Earth? In this major, we will use several scale models to show you how the planets compare in size to each other.
  • Art – Explore the Chazen Museum of Art and learn from a professional artist! This is your opportunity to dive into art at the UW and in your home – anyone can be an artist!
  • Biotechnology – Explore two different sections of this major, including the Classical Food Biotechnology course where you can learn about which milk makes better bubbles, invent the eyedropper/pipette, and more. The second section of this major will include extraction of wheat germ’s DNA, making a paper DNA model, videos, and more!
  • Earth’s Climate – What are the Big 10 events during Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history? What were the climates during these events? Participants will explore the evolution of Earth’s environment and climate from its beginning to the human transformation of it.
  • Entomology – This major will include brief video clips and guidance for a “backyard safari”! Entomology is defined as “the branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects.” Join us to learn about the exciting creatures in your own backyard!
  • Entrepreneurship – In this major, you will learn what an entrepreneur is and how to choose a business idea and business name. You will use your business idea and apply it to marketing concepts and create a marketing flyer. You will put it all together by learning about the Business Model Canvas and applying it to your own business idea. What will you create?
  • Journey to the South Pole with IceCube – Journey to the South Pole with PolarTREC educator Jocelyn Argueta, who will teach you everything you need to know about life at the South Pole and the exciting science taking place there. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, located at the South Pole, is the biggest and strangest telescope in the world.
  • Kinesiology – Participants will learn about multiple topics within the Department of Kinesiology, including anatomy, physiology, and physical education. It’s time to learn about how your body moves!
  • Limnology – Wisconsin is home to 15,000 lakes and is the birthplace of the scientific study called limnology. As a limnologist, you will explore freshwater systems, both small and large, through a variety of lessons, videos, activities, and more.
  • Meat Science & Animal Biologics – We will learn about basic food safety practices that you can implement in your homes. We will also learn about functional ingredients that are important for making processed meat products. This is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in science that is right in front of you!
  • Music: Playing the Blues, Badger Style – Anyone can turn their Badger red into blue! Explore the basic elements of the blues, including a blues scale, the basic blues chord, and how to put them together into a standard 12-bar blues progression. Even better, no previous music experience is necessary for this activity!
  • Nursing – Participants will learn the importance of observation and assessment, skills that nurses rely on daily to keep patients safe. Grandparents and grandchildren will learn about the components of blood, how important our lungs are to our health, and the organs that live within our bodies!
  • Nutritional Science – Participants will learn about the fun way our digestive system works and why it’s so important. You’ll be able to identify what foods have which vitamins and minerals and how they help us grow!
  • People, Plants, and Planet – Learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle items around your home and community to support your own garden and the nature around you. In this major, participants will learn about sustainability and have access to resources and projects that will connect them to nature around them while keeping Earth happy and healthy.
  • Renewable Energy Studies – Get ready to be an energy expert! Put your engineering and design skills to the test as you construct an effective windmill. Become an oral historian documenting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Everybody is needed in this movement – from engineers to artists to organizers. You’ll learn what’s exciting about renewable energy and put your new knowledge to work with hands-on activities.
  • Restoration Ecology – Participants will go on a virtual tour at the UW – Madison Arboretum and learn about native plants, native pollinators, and their interdependence through scientific inquiry. Participants will practice making and recording observations.
  • Russian Language and Culture: From “Ah” to “Yah” – Students in this major will become familiar with the looks and sounds of the Russian alphabet. They will learn to sing a traditional song in Russian and will learn a bit about the incredibly rich history, politics, and culture of the biggest country on the planet!
  • Soil Science – Participants will learn about the fascinating and wonderful world beneath their feet! Soils are much more than dirt. We will open up a new world to you and guide you through some hands-on activities to learn about the soils in your area.
  • Veterinary Medicine – Using video, we will examine and explore anatomical specializations of three species: dogs, horses and oxen (cows). If participants have pets at home, or access to large animals, they can practice and follow along. Participants will learn how important veterinary care is for these wonderful animals and also how what veterinarians do affects human health in a major way.
  • Wildlife Ecology – Through online resources and a virtual nature walk, participants will learn about Wisconsin’s wildlife, including birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. We’ll also explore birdwatching, a popular activity enjoyed by many people in Wisconsin, and learn how to make plaster casts of animal tracks.

    *Majors and descriptions are subject to change.


Evening Activities

There will be pre-recorded and live evening activities offered during virtual GPU. You will need to select which evenings you would like to participate in evening activities during registration. More information on evening activities will be available later this Spring. Activities may include a scavenger hunt, pre-recorded videos, family game night such as bingo, crafts and more.