College of Science and Engineering


Students get a hands-on science lesson at SCSU

Friday, January 11, 2013

More than 650 fifth- and sixth-graders from 40 schools attended, and they were given the opportunity to go to four of 24 sessions that allowed them to gain knowledge and get their hands dirty.

Bright red pigs’ hearts, zombies and Jell-O roads were among the session topics Thursday at the 7th annual Science Rocks! event at St. Cloud State University.

Some of the sessions included “It Makes Your Blood Run,” which gave students a closer look at the heart and what it does, and “Solve it! Working with Furry Patients,” which took a closer look at what it’s like to be a veterinarian.

“It’s interesting to see how (the students) react when they have a (a pig’s heart) in front of them,” said Victoria R. Hammer, an associate professor of nursing for St. Cloud State’s department of nursing science. “At first they are a bit unsure, but then they get into it and start looking at the different ventricles and where the blood goes.”

Student reactions to the pig hearts ranged from wary to intrigued and gradually shifted from tentative handling to full-on exploration. The same can be said for the students who were performing mini-surgeries on a dog’s stomach in a separate session.

After the fifth- and sixth-grade students were presented with the organ, session leader Nancy Altena challenged them to find the foreign object that was causing the dog’s sickness.

“It is soup to nuts here. The students really are getting a variety of things in these sessions,” said Sandra Cordie, director of educational programs for Resource Training & Solutions. “All of the sessions are related to science in nature, but I really encouraged our presenters to have content and activity. We want students who have an interest in science to get more intrigued here.”

This year’s keynote speaker was ecologist and wolf expert Danielle O’Neill. She spoke to students about gray wolves, which were taken off of the federal endangered species list last January. Minnesota now allows limited wolf hunting.

All the students were scheduled to attend the wolf session. “I thought it was a good session for them to attend because of the recent law change in Minnesota. It gives them a chance to see how that change affects the species’ population,” Cordie said.

Cordie said Science Rocks! started seven years ago. Piquing a student’s interest at this age is important, she said, and it allows them to experience and learn about things they might not have otherwise been exposed to.

“You’re going to learn something today whether you want to or not.”


Written by
Danielle Cintron, St. Cloud Times, Jan. 10, 2013

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