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RCW teacher hopes new Web portal is ticket to science equipment

Science teacher Brenda Holm needs four heart rate monitors to use in her human science class at Renville County West High School.

The $145 for each monitor from Vernier Software & Technology just isn't in the budget right now, Holm said this week.

She hopes someone will donate the monitors when they see her request on a new Web portal designed to foster relationships between Minnesota educators and businesses.

Holm was one of the first educators from west central Minnesota to post a request.

The new Web site -- -- allows educators to post requests for what they need in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. People working in those fields can post their offers to help out schools in their areas.

The site is a cooperative effort of the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota High Tech Association.

Her class has two heart rate monitors already, but a total of six would be helpful, "so it doesn't take forever to get through all 29 students," Holm said.

Vernier manufactures a number of different probes and monitors for use in science education. The products are durable, Holm said, and she sees it as a one-time expense for the department because the monitors she's seeking will last for years.

"We don't have a ton of money," she said, and the science budget provides supplies for chemistry, biology, physics and human science classes. However, once the basics are covered, there's not a lot left over for more specialized equipment, like heart-rate monitors.

After Holm's request was posted, another was posted that affects west central Minnesota. A group called Minnesota Camps to Careers is seeking business input and mentorship for camps this summer to introduce high school students to manufacturing and health care careers. One of the manufacturing camps is to take place in Willmar.

Educators have been placing requests for some time, and the portal was officially launched on Monday. The Minnesota Department of Education announced the first connection through the Web portal, which took place on Monday when Karla Taylor of 3M spoke to eighth-graders at Battle Creek Middle School in St. Paul.

The Department of Education hopes the site will "connect teachers with interactive and exciting learning resources ... that will prepare students for success," Commissioner Alice Seagren said in a news release when the site was launched.

Requests so far range from large to small.

A teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools has asked for pencils, because students often don't have them, and for thermometers to use in classroom experiments. Another St. Paul teacher asked for science notebooks.

In the Anoka-Hennepin School District, a teacher is looking for funding to support an after-school model rocket class geared for students who are struggling in science.

The site has two requests for interactive white boards. Volunteer mentors are sought to work with the Inventor's Club at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis.

Offers for help include a number of professionals in engineering and other fields who have volunteered to speak to students in their areas.

The Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute at the University of Minnesota has developed traffic engineering curriculum and wants to test it in high school classroom.

For more information, visit