The Hormel Institute Hosts Seventh Annual Sixth-Graders Day

 Hundreds of sixth-graders from Austin’s I.J. Holton Intermediate School and Pacelli Catholic Schools visited The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota today for the seventh annual “Sixth Graders Day at The Hormel Institute” aimed at getting students excited about science.  In addition to its cutting edge cancer research, supporting science education is a key way The Hormel Institute gives back to the community, with programs for students from elementary school through post-doctoral experiences.

Throughout the day, 12 tours brought students and faculty through the halls of The Hormel Institute to get a firsthand look at cancer research in Austin. The sixth-graders learned about The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned research focused on discoveries leading to the prevention and control of cancer and its history as shown on the lobby’s wall mural highlighting its historic progress.

Dr Morris - The Hormel Institute

Dr. Rebecca Morris and members of her “Stem Cells and Cancer” research section at The Hormel Institute show sixth-graders on Thursday the effects of liquid dish soap and dry ice during the sixth annual Sixth Graders Day at the Institute.

Dr. Rebecca Morris, leader of the “Stem Cells and Cancer” research section at The Hormel Institute, once again led popular “hands on” scientific demonstrations for the students with the help of her research team, the Institute’s senior lab technician Todd Schuster and community volunteers led by Gretchen Ramlo.

“It is encouraging to see everyone, especially young students, excited about science, including cancer research, because the scientific method is a great way to ask questions about the world all around us and to solve problems that have been around for a long time,” said Dr. Rebecca Morris. “I am happy to be part of Sixth-Grade day because I became interested in science and math at a very young age and continue to find the process of discovery exciting, challenging, and fun.”

Overhead science demonstrations - The Hormel Institute

Overhead view of one of the fun science demonstrations Thursday at The Hormel Institute.

The science demonstrations included creating “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.

Students also saw a display showcasing a dozen foods that contain cancer-preventative agents; 3-D imaging research; and cutting-edge, high-tech cancer-fighting tools that include two IBM supercomputers.

Gretchen Ramlo 6th Graders - The Hormel Institute

Gretchen Ramlo shows sixth-graders foods that contain cancer-preventative agents.

Other education outreach programs of The Hormel Institute include support of local science fairs; section leaders on-site for a day in a lab with Ellis middle school seventh and eighth graders; mentoring high school honors biology students; the SURE college internship program; curriculum/faculty support for the University of Minnesota-Rochester’s Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology (BICB) program; and provides both doctoral and post-doctoral research training programs.  Education plans and collaborations with higher education institutes such as Riverland Community College, RCTC, University of Minnesota and soon Carleton College, continue to grow.