About Science Express

The Science Express is a laboratory on wheels that bring hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and math to K-12 students at schools throughout Central Minnesota. The laboratory, launched by St. Cloud State University, began making series of one-week visits to area schools on September 21, 2009 with a stay at Sauk Rapids Rice Middle School.

The equipment and experiments offered by the mobile lab are designed to attract young people to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. With the mobile laboratory, local educators are able to cover such topics as Lyme disease, oil spill remediation using oil-eating bacteria, DNA profiling, cardiac physiology and laser optics. 

The Science Express is intended to enhance the science curriculum of schools that don’t have the equipment or infrastructure to provide such training. The trailer brings to each school a state-of-the-art laboratory, meeting space and a fully integrated audio/video system with VHS/DVD, wireless network, satellite Internet and two 42-inch plasma television screens.

The project was given a $50,000 kick start with a donation from the Morgan Family Foundation, Yellow Springs, Ohio. A K-12 outreach grant of $200,000 from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Bioscience Initiative; participation by the Anoka-Ramsey, St. Cloud, Ridgewater and Minneapolis community and technical colleges; and private donations are supporting the effort. The semi trailer donated by Medtronic, Minneapolis-based global leader in medical technology, 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.

Science Express laboratory

The Science Express laboratory offers an exciting, hands-on experience to K-12 students.

Specifications

  • The trailer is 53-feet long
  • The lab area is 16’ x 22’ or about 350 sq ft
  • The conference area is 10’ x 16’ or 160 sq ft
  • The Science Express can accommodate up to 36 students (requires reconfiguration to eight work stations), but the standard configuration is six stations (up to 30 students)

Technology

The following equipment is available for students to use:

  • Thermal Cycler (for Polymerase Chain reaction)
  • Gel Electrophoresis units
  • Benchtop centrifuges
  • Dry baths (for temperature control)
  • Pipettors
  • Vernier LabQuest units (plus multiple probes) at each station

Support

  • MnSCU BioScience Initiative provided the Seed Grant ($200,000)
  • Medtronic donated the trailer ($300,000)
  • Casework done by Innovative Laboratory Systems ($30,000)
  • Workshops supported by a WIRED grant ($50,000)
  • Morgan Family Foundation ($50,000)

Partners

Ridgewater Community College, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

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