Sanford Lab: Discovering Science Pt 3

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The Sanford Lab is focused on high-tech experiments that will help expand our knowledge of science and the world around us. Researchers are also working with students of all ages to help develop the next generation of young minds in the Black Hills.

One program is allowing Black Hills State University students to work with local middle school students and share their love of science.

The BHSU campus sits not far from the Sanford Underground Research Facility, where the school operates its own lab within the campus. To help increase interest in science, the school decided to work with students from Belle Fourche and Spearfish Middle Schools through robotics.

“We were looking to put on a robotics competition because we have Sanford Lab right in our backyard,” said Brianna Mount, a research assistant professor at BHSU. “I think it really came about from how to get kids involved in science. Robots are easy, right? Because everyone wants to build one."

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Middle school students formed teams and constructed their very own robot. Robot construction gives the students a well-rounded view of engineering, math, and science, all of which are essential to successful STEM careers in the future.

"As a science major, you always think about science and like, the scientific method, and just how you kind of test and try again,” said Sam Hintgein, a science education major at BHSU. “I think this was a really great experience for them to kind of learn from their mistakes and guess and check, like real science."

The robots are taken 4,850 feet below ground, so while the middle schoolers are constructing their robots, Black Hills State students serve as mentors due to age requirements of the underground campus.

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"A big component to this program is the mentorship of college students for the middle school students,” Mount said. “The middle school students kind of get a taste of what college life can be like through those mentors. You know, I think they can see that science and college isn't scary - it’s just something that is fun."

Hintgein believes that learning about technology will help lead our next generation and his future students into the next frontier.

"I'm biology and chemistry, so I don't get that much into the hardware and technology of it," Hintgein said. "But I am thinking, looking at this - it is a really great prep for them if they want go on to engineering, math, with the angles and everything."

The robotics competition is just one of many STEM education programs at Sanford Lab. Every year, the lab hosts Neutrino Day in July to bring science awareness to the community.

All three parts of NewsCenter1's Sanford Lab: Discovering Science are posted here.

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