By Jim Barlow Students use flowers to interpret music. Illinois soils are up for grabs. Human-sized insects take the stage. It's the sixth annual UI College of Agriculture Open House on Friday and Saturday. This year's theme is "The Place to Be." More than 130 displays, exhibits and demonstrations will be set up in five buildings, rather than in 10 buildings like last year. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. "We wanted this year's open house to be more visitor- friendly than in the past, so we've put a lot more of our activity into fewer buildings," said co-chairman Sandra Casserly. "The open house is the place to be to see the diversity of our college - its teaching, research and service. It should be both educational and entertaining." Open House headquarters will be the Stock Pavilion, where guests can milk a cow, watch sheep-shearing, see other animals and view a wide variety of exhibits. Among the animals will be sheep that have the callipyge gene, which results in larger muscle fibers. An exhibit will detail the research, and UI experts will be on hand to answer questions. The gene increases muscling in the rib, loin and leg areas of sheep, but meat quality - despite a desirable lean-to-fat ratio - ranges from tender to tough, said Gary Rickets, professor of animal sciences. Researchers are looking for stability in meat quality, while breeders want to know how active callipyge genes are passed on to offspring, he said. Visitors to the pavilion also can put their hands in Illinois soils at a display designed to teach about soil texture. The exhibit also will allow people to match three soil types to locations on an Illinois map. Kindergarten and elementary-age students will find fascination in the new Insect Theater, a joint educational outreach program being unveiled by the Illinois Natural History Survey's Center for Economic Entomology and the UI's Office of Agricultural Entomology. The theater - the focus of a proposed outreach program for middle- and high-school students - will open at the National Soybean Research Laboratory in the Environmental and Agricultural Sciences Building. In performances at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. both days, entomology will come alive in plays, sketches and skits that feature realistic, human-size insect costumes, hand puppets, simple scientific-based fables and giant insect sculptures. Horticulture experts will have flowers, vegetables and paints available for children's projects in the Plant Sciences Laboratory. Horticulture students have turned a nearby conference room into a relaxing Secret Garden Tea Room, where refreshments will await weary adults. A popular event also returns to the same building as students in advanced floral design will use flowers, containers and accessories to convey the messages of their favorite songs while music plays. Seating is limited to about 50 visitors in each session; sessions begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, in Room 1125. "The performances generally last for 30 minutes to an hour," said Dianne Noland, who teaches the course. "These arrangements have had audiences on the edges of their seats in anticipation of what will be created by the time the music stops." Food will be available at the Food Court in 217 Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building. Elsewhere in the building, food scientists will have exhibits on such things as soybeans, corn, food microbiology, phytochemicals and food technology. One stop will offer homemade vanilla ice cream in UI colors. The orange will come from natural coloring, the blue from blueberries, said food scientist Rafael Jimenez-Flores. "This is the real McCoy," Jimenez said. "We make our ice cream the old-fashioned way - with milk, cream and sugar." Agricultural engineers will show off solar-powered lawn mowers, water-quality displays, a micro-mini tractor pull and sprayer pump demonstrations. Exhibits by agricultural economists also will be set up in the same building. In the Meat Science Laboratory, there will be free samples of meat products, information on "The Move Toward Leanness" and public sales of meat products. More than 17,000 people visited the College of Agriculture Open House in 1994, despite a winter storm. Parking for this year's open house will differ from last year's arrangement. Guests can park both days in the south end of Lot F-23 - just southwest of the intersection of Lincoln and Florida avenues in Urbana. On Saturday, on- street and campus parking lots also may be used. Free shuttle buses will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days every 30 minutes between Lot F-23 and the Stock Pavilion. Other free shuttle buses will operate at 30-minute intervals from the Stock Pavilion to the engineering campus, for guests who also wish to attend the College of Engineering Open House. This shuttle will stop at the Meat Science Lab, National Soybean Research Lab, Plant Sciences Lab and Greenhouses, and the Loomis Lab.