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Second annual youth science retreat set for Saturday in Willmar, Minn.

Steve Zwart of Prinsburg helps his son Seth, 5, operate the controls of a robot during the 2011 Youth Science Retreat at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar. The second annual event is Saturday. (Tribune file photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR -- The second annual i3@MTC Youth Science Retreat will be from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.

The free, day-long youth science retreat will feature demonstrations, hands-on labs, real-life applications of science and expose students to science, technology, engineering and math disciplines in the workplace.

Sponsored by MinnWest Technology Campus in partnership with the University of Minnesota, the event is designed for students in grades 6-12; however, all students, parents and grandparents are invited to attend, organizers said in a news release.

This year's i3@MTC Youth Science Retreat, which stands for, "Inspire, Investigate, and Innovate at the MinnWest Technology Campus" will include about 25 different demonstrators, including robotics, solar energy devices, a bald eagle and owl from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center and special effects with video.

The St. Cloud State University Mobile Science Lab and the Ridgewater Mobile Diagnostics Training Lab will also be present.

The featured guest will be the University of Minnesota Physics Force which will present its show at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the MinnWest Technology Campus Auditorium.

The Minnesota National Guard is participating with their rock climbing wall.

Last year's event drew more than 500 students and several hundred adults. The expectation is for more than 700 students this year, according to organizers.

Steve Salzer, general manager of MinnWest Technology Campus, said as new companies and new technology-based professions expand on the campus, it's important cultivate the future workforce -- the students of this region.

"They will be the people working on this campus in the coming years," said Salzer in the news release. "Through this event we hope to capture the attention and imagination of students with gifts in math and science by showing them real ways in which their talents are being used in the business world."

Assisting in planning and holding the event are about 30 volunteers along with the staff of MinnWest Technology Campus. The cost has been underwritten by several business donations and grants.

For further information regarding the event please contact Joanna Schrupp at 320-222-9774 or go to the MinnWest Technology website at

MinnWest Technology Campus is a private technology campus owned by Life Science Innovations and Nova-Tech Engineering. There are currently 28 companies on the campus with 357 full-time employees.