Technology Tour Helps Shape Young Scientists

Posted at: 04/19/2013 6:48 PM
Updated at: 04/19/2013 6:54 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- As American students continue to fall behind the rest of the world in math and science, educators are looking for new ways to get kids interested in the hard sciences.

On Friday, roughly 90 students from Austin and Pacelli high schools got a behind the scenes tour of the world renowned Hormel Institute as a way to take science beyond the textbook.

“They'll see that what we've learned in the classroom does apply in real research,” said Lisa Rueckert who teaches advanced chemistry and biology at Austin High School.

The tour included a presentation on cell separation, a 3D-imaging simulation, and an inside look at the institute’s super computers.

In President Obama's latest education budget proposal, science, math, and engineering were among his top priorities and beyond a boost in funding, teachers also said they want to see changes in science curriculum to make it more engaging.

“I think it's how we're teaching, not necessarily what,” Rueckert said. “We teach ten miles wide and an inch thick instead of teaching the whole ingenuity process."

Officials hoped that Friday's tour would excite students about a possible career in science, and for at least one student, it seemed to have worked.

“It’s kind of intimidating almost to see how much stuff they do with it and how intricate things are,” said tenth grader Sam Bennett. “It makes me really want to get into one of those labs and work."

And it's precisely that kind of enthusiasm that educators were looking for.

“If it trips somebody's trigger to say, 'This is kind of cool, I want to do this,' then it was definitely well worth it,” Rueckert said.