Hundreds of Austin sixth-graders recently got to experience science in action and learn about today’s cutting-edge cancer research.
Sixth-grade students and faculty from Austin’s public and private middle schools toured The Hormel Institute throughout the day Nov. 4 as part of the second annual Ellis Day. Students from Ellis Middle School arrived about every half hour during the six-hour event, with the sixth-graders from Pacelli Middle School coming in the afternoon.
During the six-hour event, students watched a DVD about The Hormel Institute’s history and research mission followed by a tour of the main lobby that features a wall mural on the Institute’s history as well as two donor-recognition walls. Students then saw a display showcasing a dozen foods that contain cancer-preventative agents; fun science demonstrations; 3-D imaging research; and the Blue Gene/L supercomputer.

Dr. Janos Nadas, a researcher at The Hormel Institute, shows sixth-grade students from Austin’s Ellis Middle School how scientists can use 3-D imaging technology in their work.

The science demonstrations proved to be a lot of fun for the students, who witnessed “milk fireworks” (whole milk, food coloring and dish soap); dry ice bubbles that turn into smoke when touched; and foods — such as lettuce —  that shatter after being dipped in liquid nitrogen.
Specializing in research leading to cancer prevention and control, The Hormel Institute puts on the sixth-graders event as one of the various ways it promotes science education throughout the year.
Among its other educational initiatives, The Hormel Institute supports science fairs, brings section leaders to spend a day in a lab with 7th and 8th grade students at Ellis Middle School, works with high school honors biology students, offers a college internship program, serves as a leader of the University of Minnesota-Rochester’s Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology (BICB) program, and provides both doctoral and post-doctoral research training programs.

Sixth-grade students and faculty from Austin’s Ellis Middle School look on as Hormel Institute scientists led by section leader Dr. Rebecca Morris conduct fun science demonstrations Nov. 4 at the Institute.