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High School Students Help Kids Get Excited About Science

Updated: 04/22/2014 6:33 PM
Created: 04/22/2014 5:08 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

What do a bald eagle, a hovercraft, and a light bulb all have in common? This week, they're all on display at the Minnesota Discovery Center to help inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The 3rd Annual Iron Range Science and Engineering Festival is expected to bring over 1,250 seventh graders to the center over three days.  

The goal at the festival is to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. 

Many of the activities are hands on. At a work station put on by Cliffs Natural Resources, the kids try to find iron ore in their mini Play-Doh mines.

"They're on a budget, so they can only find so many locations. They have six drill holes they're able to do," said Tasha Niemi, an environmental coordinator at Hibbing Taconite.

Some of the students already have an interest in engineering.

"It's kind of like it's your own boundaries, like it's whatever you can make," said Ben Vicroy from Grand Rapids.

But in case the kids aren't yet convinced, area high school students and future engineers are showing off what they can do.

"We're kind of trying to inspire maybe," said Nashwauk-Keewatin junior, Taylor Walters.

Last year, their introduction to engineering class built quite the contraption, which is on display at the festival.

"It essentially kind of simulates a real cockpit," he explained.

It's a flight simulator designed by the teenagers. This year, that same class built a hovercraft.

Among the seventh graders, the simulator and hovercraft are making quite the impression, but Joe Kuhlmann, a junior at Nashwauk-Keewatin, said it took many months and a bit of patience to complete.

"We could have gone so many different ways with motors and things like that for the design and we chose this," he said.

The festival continues at the Discovery Center Wednesday and Thursday.

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