Staying engaged through outreach

7th graders from Breakthrough Twin Cities during visit to campus
7th graders from Breakthrough Twin Cities on their visit to campus.

This academic year has already brought a wealth of enriching experiences to our department. We've engaged with diverse age groups, delving into the fascinating realm of geology and University of Minnesota research. 

On Saturday, October 14th, over 80 7th graders from Breakthrough Twin Cities visited Tate Hall to learn about geology and research at the University of Minnesota. During the day, students had access to various laboratories, where they learned about their respective research through hands-on activities. The goal of this event was to give students an opportunity to see a college campus, get a sense of what research entails, build connections, and ultimately have a great time! We received rave reviews; to quote one of the Breakthrough members: "My personal favorite: a seventh grader who talked for 20 minutes straight on the bus back about how cool the fossil they had gotten was and how excited they were about it, was heard saying 'I'm totally gonna go to the U!'"

The students were able to visit various labs and learn directly from researchers behind the science. The Continental Scientific Drilling Facility provided the 'I Cored!' exercise, where students made their own cores and visualized different sediment layers. In the Microprobe and XRCT labs, students saw meteorites at both macro- and micro-scales, while also touching and observing meteorite hand samples. The Institute of Rock Magnetism (IRM) discussed the magnetism of natural materials with students and showed them around the IRM facility. Kent Kirby and his partner shared stories behind casts and tracks, while having a plethora of samples for students to explore. The Structure, Tectonic, and Metamorphic Petrology laboratory provided a tour of their lab space and taught students about the history of rocks and minerals from around the world. Lastly, the Rock and Mineral Physics laboratory gave a tour of their lab and demonstrated different deformation behaviors.

Additionally, we partnered with the Chanhassen Cub Scouts, aiding a group of scouts in earning their Geology Belt Loop. Our volunteers interacted with 4th grade Cub Scouts, providing accessible insights into the field of geology. Through hands-on activities, scouts learned to identify rocks and minerals, understanding their importance in everyday life. It proved to be an enriching experience, fostering curiosity and appreciation for the natural sciences among the participants.

We had a great time collaborating with Breakthrough Twin Cities and the Chanhassen Cub Scouts, and are eager to keep that partnership going. Looking ahead, we're excited about more outreach activities in the pipeline, as we aim to stay connected with our community and spark interest in the Earth sciences.