University on the Prairie: science in the summer

Updated: Jul. 17, 2019 at 9:03 PM CDT
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LAMBERTON, Minn. (KEYC) - Nearly 30 youth explored different sciences at the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center, getting their hands dirty and keeping their brains active.

The University on the Prairie is a three-day learning event, July 15 through the 17, for area youth organized by Cottonwood County 4-H with the help of local support.

“It’s an opportunity for them that don’t necessarily get that opportunity to talk with universities and colleges and see what they do, but it’s a great way for youth to explore the different sciences offered during this program,” said Cottonwood County 4-H Program Coordinator Crystal Reith.

The four sciences explored were chemistry, agriculture environmental sciences, engineering and food science which was perfect for one attendee who is in his sixth year at the University on the Prairie.

“It’s just so much fun. I get to meet new people, learn new things about science, like engineering. I get exposed to new careers like food science, I never thought that I would be interested in it, but this year especially it’s kind of, like, perked my interest,” said long-time Cottonwood County 4-H member Jack Derickson.

The hands-on activities provide interactive learning.

“My mom is a chemistry teacher and she’s here right now, I think she’s behind me, but I learned a lot more from the chemistry portion than I did in her class, but it helps because it’s entertaining and I’m engaged and I thought that was really fun and interesting,” said Derickson.

The learning acts as an outlet for career exploration.

“Kids that come here to the program are really sharp and they generally have a lot of aptitude for science, they’re interested in science from the moment they show up, so I think it is a perfect time to catch them when they’re interested in it and you can really kind of peak that interest and work on that,” said University of Minnesota professor Aaron Massari.

Next year’s University on the Prairie is set for July 21 through the 23 of 2020.

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