Educational Tours

The Hormel Institute offers tours to schools, local non-profits, and other organizations. To book a visit, review the information and email Kelly Vincelette, Community Outreach and Education Manager at kelly521@umn.edu or Katie Young, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator at k-young@umn.edu. Please include your preferred visit date, number of students, grade level, and which activities you would like to participate in. We request that all tours be scheduled a minimum of 2-3 weeks in advance and Educational Experiences at least one month in advance. 

Educational tours can last from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the activities you would like to participate in. Each event starts with background information on The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota and our 80-plus years of rich history.

Tours & Information

  • Guided tours of The Hormel Institute.  
  • Tours of a lab led by cancer researchers (for students ages 12 and older, subject to researcher availability) 
  • Career panel/discussion with The Hormel Institute staff. It takes a lot of different people to make things run at the Institute. Learn about all the different jobs we have. (high school students and older, subject to researcher availability) 
  • Informal conversation with an Institute researcher (subject to researcher availability) 
  • Hands-on activities (see list)
  • A stop at the Cryo – EM Microscope, one of the most powerful microscopes in the world. See the cutting-edge technologies used at The Hormel Institute. 
  • 3D Experience – Tour participants will hear from The Hormel Institute Cryo-EM faculty/staff to see and learn about this powerful microscope.

To be in compliance with The Hormel Institute’s safety of minor policy, all groups must be accompanied by chaperones. The following rations listed below must be followed during visits. 

  • Ages 8 and under age 8: 1 chaperone for every 8 students
  • Ages 9 to 14: 1 chaperone for every 10 students
  • Ages 15 and up: 1 chaperone for every 12 students
  • Classroom based opportunities to ensure a quality learning environment there will be a ratio of 1 chaperone per 20 students.

Hands-On Activities

Strawberry DNA Extraction – Tour participants perform a science experiment in a lab. They will learn about study protocols and walk through the steps of an experiment while extracting DNA from a strawberry while learning about the different importance of DNA and lab procedures in research.  (30 minutes)

Micropipette – Tour participants will work in a lab and learn how pipetting is important in research. Participants will be able to learn basic pipette techniques. (20 minutes)

Microscopes – Tour participants learn from researchers about the different work they perform under microscopes. Participants will see samples from researchers‘ work, protozoa, or other specimens under the microscopes. (20 Minutes)

Fold a Virus – Tour participants get to see actual virus models come to life through their own virus origami template. (20 Minutes)

Equipment and Tools in Science – Many different pieces of equipment and tools are needed in research. During this activity, tour participants will get to see the cutting-edge technology, equipment, and tools used at The Hormel Institute. (20 minutes)

Cancer Fighting Food – Learn about the research happening at The Hormel Institute focusing on food and nutrition and how it relates to cancer. Participants will be able to sample cancer-fighting foods and get recipes to take with them. (15 minutes)

3-D Interactive Station – Learn about transmitters and advancements in technology within computers during this 3-D interactive station. A short lecture followed by a short 3-D video with images using 3-D glasses are included in this station. (15 minutes)

Cryo-EM Microscope – The Hormel Institute is home to the only Cryo-Electron microscope in Minnesota. The Cryo-EM is generally a transmission electron microscope (TEM) specifically designed to maintain cryogenic temperatures within the sample chamber. Cryo-EM cools samples to cryogenic temperatures so quickly that it prevents water molecules from crystalizing, preserving the original sample structure. Once frozen, a range of EM techniques can be used to visualize the specimen in 3D at a variety of resolutions—including near-atomic resolution—allowing scientists to gain deeper, more comprehensive insights than previously possible. (15 minutes) 

An additional presentation can be added to this presentation with 3-D images made with the Cryo-EM. (5-10 extra minutes)

Career Panel – Learn about all of the different career paths and jobs at The Hormel Institute. This includes faculty, postdocs, and researchers, as well as the operations staff. Operations staff include administration, finance, facilities, human resources, research development, marketing & communications, development, a research and outreach nurse, safety officer, and more. Participants will learn about the different job responsibilities, career pathways, and education needed for a variety of positions at The Hormel Institute. Question and answer time will be provided as part of the panel. (15-20 minutes)

Liquid Nitrogen Experiments – Liquid Nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid form at a low temperature. It is used in many labs for research, including the Cryo-EM microscope, to help store cells at low temperatures. During this activity, lab staff and researchers will perform experiments to show just how cold liquid nitrogen is and what it can do. 

Setting Up an Educational Tour

When setting up an educational tour, all groups are asked to look through the hands-on activity list and choose 3-4 areas of interest ranked from 1-4 of most to least interested in. The Community Outreach and Education team will do their best to accommodate group interests within the allotted time frame.  Each tour will include an introduction consisting of a welcome and brief history lesson about the Institute that lasts about 5-10 minutes. We encourage questions to be asked throughout the duration of all educational tours. 

Sample Schedules

50-60 Minute Sample Schedule

Time Activity
8:55-9:00 am Welcome and History of The Hormel Institute
9:00-9:15 am 3-D station (3-D glasses)
9:15-9:30 am Cryo-EM
9:30-9:40 am Liquid Nitrogen Experiment
9:40-9:52 am Hormel Institute STEM Related Career Panel

60-90 Minute Sample Schedule

Time Activity
8:45-8:50 am Welcome and History of The Hormel Institute
8:50-9:10 am 3-D station (3-D glasses)
9:10-9:25 am Cryo-EM
9:25-9:55 am Strawberry DNA Extraction
9:40-9:52 am Hormel Institute STEM Related Career Panel