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Program encourages students to think like engineers

Elementary school students from Christa McAuliffe, Kennedy, Pinecrest, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton schools in Hastings learned to think like engineers at recent assemblies put on by the Science Museum of Minnesota. The assemblies are part of the "Experience Science" program, a partnership between the Science Museum of Minnesota and Flint Hills Resources that brings science and engineering-themed school assemblies to more than 5,000 first-, second- and fourth-graders at 29 elementary schools in Dakota County. In addition to the assemblies, students participating in the "Experience Science" program also take field trips to the Science Museum.

"We are fortunate to be able to partner with Flint Hills Resources to provide this program for children in our community," said Dr. Eric J. Jolly, president of the Science Museum of Minnesota. "'Experience Science' promises to equip a new generation with the tools to compete and innovate in a world where scientific literacy is critical to a successful workforce." During the assemblies, science museum staffers used interactive models to show examples of real-world engineering problems and helped students think through the process of solving problems. During their trips to the museum, students learned how to combine math, science, creativity and curiosity to effectively think like engineers. Students were challenged to consider how museum exhibits were made, what materials were used to build them, and what problems were likely solved along the way. The "Experience Science" program is designed to enhance student interest and fulfill academic standards in science and engineering. Flint Hills Resources employs hundreds of Minnesota engineers and skilled workers and has a vested interest in the future of engineering in the Twin Cities.

"We see the 'Experience Science' program as an investment in our future," said Scott Lindemann, vice president of operations and plant manager at Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery. "As a high-tech manufacturer that employs hundreds of engineers and skilled workers, we want to do everything we can to help encourage young people to take an interest in science."

Minnesota schools are required to incorporate specific engineering material into curricula to prepare students for jobs of the future. The standards reflect the state's commitment to educate students about the modern scientific world. "Experience Science" helps schools fulfill the standards in a way that is fun and engaging for students.