More than a decade after it first brought state-of-the-art lab experience to K-12 students, the Science Express has been revamped to expand its mission as the Husky Express.
The Science Express first launched in 2010 to enhance the science curriculum of schools in the region that didn’t have the equipment and expertise to provide that training. The mobile lab was first used by Medtronic as a high-tech trailer for training physicians.
Today it is going beyond science with convertible lab spaces for both science and technology equipment and the capability to adapt to offer experiences in any of St. Cloud State University’s many disciplines, said Dr. Kurt Helgeson.
Last fall the Husky Express went to a professional development event for current teachers in Mankato and Detroit Lakes to show off the latest equipment and techniques being used by technology education teachers. It became a mobile Make It Space for a robotics event. It transformed into a mobile science lab for two weeks for elementary students at the Innovation Science and Technology Academy in Blaine run by St. Cloud State faculty and education students. And it served as a classroom for St. Cloud State faculty members offering a customized training with Central McGowan.
Dr. Felicia Leammukda, Dr. Rachel Humphries and Dr. Ramya Sivaraj are turning it into a mobile teaching lab to offer a field experience for science education majors where students help to operate the lab and work with children to present lessons.
“My student was able to have a kind of field experience,” Leammukda said. “They get to work with students in an out of school experience. They get to teach their own lesson that they developed. They need that experience before they go out and actually teach or do their student teaching experience.”
Benedict Thoms-Warzecha is an Earth and Space Science/General Science Education major who worked with Academy students in fall to deliver a lesson he created with others for an after school program. He presented his lesson on PH and had to adapt it for kindergarteners through middle school students while getting them hands on working with a PH indicator made from blended red cabbages and then testing common solutions for their PH. The students got a visual model to represent acidity.
“The students did really well,” he said. “Students asked a lot of really great questions which led us to a lot of side tangents, but the amount of learning that occurred that day was astronomical.”
Thoms-Warzecha enjoyed working in the Huskies Express and learning and getting hands on with a variety of age groups.
It solidified my confidence in teaching as well as letting me know that middle and high school grades are definitely the grades I want to stick with,” he said. “It also showed me alternative learning environment as a viable alternative compared to a traditional school setting.”
Equipment and modification for Husky Express were made possible thanks to the TEC Network and the St. Cloud State Make It Space.
he TEC Network is a series of middle and high schools throughout Minnesota that work with St. Cloud State University to gain access to the latest technology and engineering equipment and support for teacher training and curriculum development. The Make It Space – in Headley Hall, is a space where students from across campus take their ideas and make them into reality with laser cutters, 3D printers and other printing. Equipment from these two programs are being used by Husky Express to reach students at schools without technology equipment.
Central McGowan and TEAM Industries are supporters of the Husky Express and funded its rebranding.