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Sharing My Love of Science With STEMzone

A young student looked through a microscope for the first time during a STEMzone program at his school. He lifted his head, looked from side to side at the other students waiting their turn, and said, “That’s awesome! That is AWESOME!”

The student was from Hebron, but he could have easily been from Bowbells, or Dickinson, or Rolla, or Manvel, or Wahpeton, or Bismarck, or any of the other communities where Gateway to Science on the Go has brought its STEMzone program.

What is STEMzone? STEMzone is a rentable event that delivers a variety of hands-on STEM activities to a school or community organization. The school provides tables for the activity stations and volunteers to assist with each station, and Gateway to Science provides the rest. A few examples of STEMzone activities are air pressure rockets, astronaut workstation, optical illusions, laparoscopy, parachutes, and brain teasers. In 2019, Gateway to Science on the Go delivered more than 60 hands-on activity programs to schools, libraries, community celebrations, and fairs throughout North Dakota as well as eastern Montana and western Minnesota.

STEMzone offers students the chance to experience activities that are often not available to them in many schools, like microscopes. One of the most common comments from students at the microscope station is that they have never used one before. Students are encouraged to explore and discover. They learn more about things they are already interested in, and realize they are interested in things they’ve never encountered before. STEMzone activities bring to life subjects they may have studied in the classroom, but they gain a better understanding while they are doing the activity. In addition, teachers will often build lessons around activities their students have engaged in through STEMzone.

Let’s get back to that student in Hebron who found looking through a microscope an awesome thing. I couldn’t agree with him more! As a child, I always saw myself wearing a lab coat and looking through a microscope, but an experience with my brother was the foundation of my love for science and research. Growing up, my brother was often sick. It seemed he would get over a cold or infection, and a couple weeks later he would be sick again. I realized I never got sick. I was curious about this and wondered why we were so different when we had the same parents. When I was about ten years old, I became fascinated with the immune system and with biology, and I wanted to find out what made my brother and me so different. In time, I became a molecular biologist, worked in labs, and looked through many microscopes.

Today I share my love of science by inspiring and engaging students, and getting them excited about science through the STEMzone program. They see that science can be both fun and educational. Hopefully, along the way I spark some real interest in a child and they pursue a STEM career. Maybe one of those children was that student from Hebron.

~ Janet Rosario, MS, Programs Director (June 2020 – May 2022)