by Cori Hilsgen
Local fifth- and sixth-grade students were among the more than 720 students from 30 area school districts who attended the eighth annual “Science Rocks” day at St. Cloud State University in the beginning of January.
The event offered students a chance to choose from attending several of 29 sessions related to science and nature.
Sessions were 60-minutes long and were taught by professionals such as nurses, college professors, dairy experts, veterinarians, engineers, naturalists and others.
The day was coordinated by Resource Training and Solutions, whose Director of Educational Programs Sandra Cordie, said the day was about introducing the students to a variety of science and nature concepts they may otherwise never have seen.
Sartell Academic Extensions Coordinator Lori Dornburg said 15 Sartell Middle School students and teachers Jen Olson and herself attended the event from 9 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.
Students attended four sessions of their choice. Some of the sessions offered included: “Milk: From Cow to You,” “Furs, Fangs and Femurs,” “High Energy,” “Batty about Bats,” “Buzzed and Drugged by Water Pollution” and others.
She said the keynote speech of the day was “Spectacles of Physics-A MiniCircus,” which was presented by Jack Netland and Hank Ryan from the University of Minnesota.
“Their show was a combination of interesting, sometimes spectacular demonstrations of physics concepts combined with humor and some slapstick comedy to help students understand and appreciate some physics concepts,” Dornburg said.
SMS students Jordan Wenshaw and Brandon Kempenich said they thought Science Rocks was a good experience.
“Science Rocks was really fun,” Wenshaw said. “I enjoyed the physics session the best. The demonstrations were really cool.”
“Science Rocks was fun because there were a lot of things about science I didn’t know could happen,” Kempenich said. “It was a great experience.”
St. Francis Xavier School Principal Kathy Kockler said 21 students participated in the event.
“For many of our students, this was the first time they were on a college campus experiencing learning and how fun it can be for them,” Kockler said. “They were intrigued by the wonders of science and loved the ‘Fun with Physics’ session. The beauty of science is it is all around us and real-world applicable. What a great way to teach them how to think and solve problems.”
Several SFX students commented about the day.
“Science fills you with a new type of energy of excellence and learning,” Tim Haas said.
“(I am) much more interested in science after seeing all I can do,” Faith Van Erp said. “They make it fun like my teacher Mrs. Winters does.”
“(I) discovered new fields in science I never knew existed and that excites me,” Tricia Castro said.
Kennedy Community School teacher Kristin Sowada said 20 students and herself attended the event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. She said students attended three sessions of their choice.
Sowada said some of the sessions they attended included “Spectacles of Physics,” “JELL-O Roads,” “Live Eagle Program,” “Birds in Your Backyard,” “Build-a-Bug Workshop” and others.
“Science Rocks was a wonderful experience to inspire the students and for them to learn more about different areas of science and nature,” Sowada said.
Kennedy students had the following comments about the event.
“Loved making my own 3D model,” Carter Rothstein said.
“One thing I enjoyed was Spectacles of Physics,” Emma Zimmer said. “It was amazing watching them do exciting experiments. I loved Science Rocks.”
“I liked the class with Spectacles of Physics,” Abby Dierkes said. “My favorite thing they did was with a barrel and a fog machine. They put fog inside a barrel and hit it to make fog rings come out.”
Cordie said the event requires many hours and many people, but she said she feels it’s very worthwhile when she reads the evaluations she receives.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.