When Emily Roberts makes her way through the packed St. Cloud State University auditorium, you might not hear a pin drop, but you could hear a snake hiss. Roberts, of Snake Discovery, LLC, walks among fascinated fifth and sixth graders to provide an up-close look at the boa constrictor wrapped around her arms. These young science enthusiasts can even touch the critter, if they want. It is Science Rocks!, after all.
Science Rocks! is part of an annual trifecta of student science conferences offered by Resource Training and Solutions. In 2018–19, Science Rocks!, Science Fest!, and ProjectEARTH introduced more than 1,400 central Minnesota students to a variety of nature and science topics through expert, hands-on presentations at central Minnesota universities.For students like Riley Moran, sixth grader from Rockford Schools, Science Rocks! is a unique opportunity to see and try things that he might not experience in a traditional science classroom. At Science Rocks! last January, he really loved dissecting an animal heart. He also learned that a human heart is about the same size as a pig’s heart.
Odin Fahey, a fifth grader from St. Cloud’s Discovery School, enjoys chemistry, but after attending Science Fest!, found the physics session called “Laser Light Rules” particularly awesome. He says he loved the conference overall because, “It’s a whole day of science!”
Eighth graders Daisy Huff, from Pine City Schools, and Lexi Myers, from Kimball Schools, like spending time outdoors. For that reason, ProjectEARTH, a conference dedicated to engagement with the natural environment, appealed to them. Huff likes learning about plants and flowers, while Myers likes canoeing and learning about water animal species. Both students got the chance to explore the woods and lakes surrounding Saint John’s University during their conference sessions.
Holly Biorn, Rockford Schools’ gifted and talented coordinator, brings students to Science Rocks! each year. She says this is beneficial because students are immersed in scientific discovery with other like-minded enthusiasts. She enjoys the fun atmosphere where her students are exposed to what real scientists do in their particular fields of study. She also appreciates the chance for students to explore science-related career options early-on in their education.
Joel Lorsung, science lab specialist at Pine City Elementary School, agrees. “Kids need to see all of the career opportunities that are there just waiting for them.” Fellow teacher, Gina Ausmus, adds: “Students come away with a renewed interest in their surroundings after a conference like this.”
When asked what makes Resource’s science conferences worthwhile, Moran’s eyes light up, “It’s just fun to see new things that you don’t getto see at school.”