January 31, 2020

Science Rocks and Science Fest Bring Learning to Life

Resource Training and Solutions recently hosted their annual science and nature student conferences. Over 900 Central Minnesota 5th & 6th grade students started the second half of their school year with hands-on learning experiences, a high note as students came back from winter break.


On January 3rd, the halls of the Wick Science Building on the campus of St. Cloud State University (SCSU) were filled with over 500 students for the 14th annual Science Rocks student conference. The following week, on January 9th the Peter Engel Science Center on the campus of Saint John’s University (SJU) housed over 400 students for the 4th annual Science Fest conference. These inspiring naturalists, mathematicians, geologists, and computer programmers traveled from all across Central Minnesota as 30 school districts participated in this year’s science and nature conferences.

Upon arrival and settling in at their base camp, students set out to make new friends with students from across the region. With the help of red shirt volunteers, students navigated the halls of a college campus with ease; setting off to start their day full of experiments, equations, and hypothesis!


Students had the opportunity to pick from 22 different 60-minute sessions at Science Rocks. The students who attended Science Fest had 20 different 60-minute sessions to choose from. Each session was led by professionals in the fields of physics, entomology, engineering, coding, natural science, astronomy, zoology, hydrology, chemistry, biology, and botany. A few examples of the many session’s students were able to choose from:

Hillybilly Silly Science Spectacular with Curt Strutz

  • Science mixed in with humor, students laughed their way through explosive experiments that included volcanos and wind energy (a leaf blower) paired with toilet paper!

Insect Safari with Prairie Woods ELC

  • Creepy, crawly, and crucial: insects are among the most abundant and necessary critters on the planet. In this session, students did a variety of hands-on activities in addition to games and singing to learn about these amazing creatures.

The Solar System with Dr. David Williams of St. Cloud State University

  • Students traveled virtually through space, visiting planets within our solar system as well as constellations while learning their stories.

It Makes Your Blood Run with Amy Hilleren-Listerud of St. Cloud State University

  • Examination of a pig’s heart was the premise of this hands on learning session. Students also learned how to keep their own hearts pumping healthy blood through their bodies.

Reptiles Around the World with Emily Roberts of Snake Discovery LLC.

  • Reptiles large and small, common and rare were a favorite for those who chose to meet reptiles from every continent! Students learned what made each reptile unique, met a gecko and held exotic snakes – one over 10 feet long!

Laser Light Ruler with Todd Johnson of Saint John’s University

  • How lasers work and what makes their light special was microscopic! Students measured the size and shape of many objects, including their own hair!

Milk: From Cow to You with Brenda Postels of U of M Extensions

  • The milk on your cereal to the cheese on your pizza, dairy products are all around you! We get these delicious foods from dairy cows. Attendees learned about the science of how cows make milk as well as how to turn that milk into ice cream. Tasting that ice cream always churns out to be a tasty treat.

How to Tell a Agate from an Amethyst with Mike De Luca

  • Through hands-on identification, students learned the applied principle of testing rocks and minerals. Students had the opportunity to take home specimens.

As the day came to a close, new friends said good bye and old friends reunited. Students gathered their belongings and loaded back onto their buses for the journey home. Excitement from the day's learning, students eagerly shared their favorite sessions with each other.


Students learn best when they ignite their brains around their passions and unleash the possibilities. This is why each year, Resource Training & Solutions coordinates a series of student conferences to engage, equip, and empower students beyond the classroom. Our goal with Science Fest and Science Rocks is to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and environmentalists. Paired with the real-life experience of walking the halls of a college campus, all while having fun!


We would like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers and presenters, our student conferences wouldn’t be possible without you! We hope to see you back next year for the 15th annual Science Rocks and the 5th annual Science Fest!  

See photos from this year's events: 

Questions about how your school district can attend one of Resource Training & Solutions student conferences or how you can volunteer or present at the conference? Contact Deb Thomes, Student Program & Events Coordinator.