Science on the move
Friday, September 16, 2011
The Science Express, a 52-foot laboratory on wheels, is rolling again, bringing lessons old and new to Central Minnesota schools.
The Science Express serves P-12 schools that don’t have limited equipment or infrastructure. Last school year it served more than 30,000 students.
New this school year is a lesson based on an episode of Discovery MythBusters television show. The physics lesson explores the friction created when two telephone books are interlocked.
In development is a lesson on nixtamalization, the centuries-old process of softening and hulling corn, developed by cultures in Central America.
Old favorites, such as extracting DNA from fruit and matching crime-scene DNA to suspect DNA, remain on the lesson menu.
This week the Science Express is at Talahi Elementary in southeast St. Cloud.
Schools in Albany, Nisswa and Pierz are among the roughly 35 schools that will be visited, according to Bruce Jacobson, associate professor of biology and director of biobusiness outreach.
Science Express teachers are primarily focused on biological sciences, but continue to expand into chemistry and physics.
“As the requirements for students to study these disciplines increases, we believe we have a responsibility to develop activities that will support teachers and inspire students,” said Jacobson.
The lab is well-equipped to give students a hands-on approach to science. The on-board equipment includes eight stereo microscopes, electrophoresis equipment, eight LabQuests and numerous probes to support chemistry, physics, physiology and environmental science activities and a thermocycler for polymerase chain reactions.
Several St. Cloud State professors have helped develop Science Express activities, including Kevin Haglin from the Physics Department and Lakshmaiah Sreerama from the Chemistry Department.
The Science Express has been favorably received and has garnered political attention, including a 2010 visit by U.S. Senator Al Franken.
The Science Express semi-trailer was donated by Medtronic, a Minneapolis-based global leader in medical technology. It was retrofitted with the help of Innovative Laboratory Systems, Rockford, Minn., which provided laboratory casework; 3M, which provided the wrap material; and Everything Signs, Holdingford, Minn., which produced the attention-getting exterior graphics.
For more information about the Science Express contact Bruce Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org