Willmar elementary students to spend a night at the (science) museum

WILLMAR -- Hundreds of students and chaperones from Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar will board buses today for an overnight camp-in program at the Science Museum of Minnesota.The entire trip will be funded by a scholarship from Flint Hills...

Science Museum of Minnesota
Science Museum of Minnesota. (ONLINE PHOTO)

WILLMAR - Hundreds of students and chaperones from Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar will board buses today for an overnight camp-in program at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
The entire trip will be funded by a scholarship from Flint Hills Resources, which operates the Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount. Flint Hills sponsors the museum’s Science Matters program.
Roosevelt was one of 14 schools chosen from hundreds of applicants for the scholarship.
The scholarship for Willmar’s Science Matters Camp-In includes transportation, admission, T-shirts, meals and educational programs. The total value is $42,000.
Principal Lori Lockhart saw the application for the program in September and filled it out. She thought it could be a good experience for the kids, she said.
It’s not uncommon to send in an application and never hear back, she said, so it was a bit of a surprise when she heard about a month ago that the full scholarship had been approved.
“We could never afford to go” without the assistance, she said. Lockhart said the school was chosen in part because it’s a rural school with demographics similar to an urban school.
Roosevelt has nearly 1,000 students in grades K-5 - 43.4 percent are white, 37.6 percent are Hispanic and 17.1 percent are black. American Indian and Asian students each make up 1 percent of the student body.
Nearly two-thirds of the school’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, indicating that their families are living at or near the poverty line.
Representatives of the Science Museum have told Lockhart that the program has operated for 30 years and served 75,000 campers, but the group from Roosevelt will be the largest group they’ve ever hosted, she said.
Teachers, paraprofessionals and other school employees will be chaperones, along with parents and grandparents. Enough adults will make the trip to have a chaperone for each five or six students.
About 300 students will make the trip. Some parents did not give permission for their children to go, and some teachers will stay behind to work with those students.
The school has made arrangements so that students with special needs can make the trip, including bringing along a nurse, Lockhart said.
She sent a memo to the classes Wednesday reminding them that they will be representing Willmar and to be on their best behavior as guests at the museum.
“I anticipate good things” from students on the trip, Lockhart said. Teachers have spent time planning with their students, and the students are excited.
“I hope when we leave they can say we were an excellent group and be pleased with our students and staff,” Lockhart said. She said she expects to arrive back in Willmar Friday afternoon with tired but happy kids.
During their visit, the students will be immersed in science, and they won’t be allowed to have any electronic devices.
The group of about 370 kids and adults will arrive at 3 p.m. today for check-in. They will be able to explore the museum before eating a pizza buffet dinner. After a welcome show, they will spend three hours in the evening working on science experiments and exploring exhibits with the museum’s education staff.
They will set up their “campsites” at 10 p.m. with lights out at 11.
They’ll be up at 6:15 a.m. Friday and start the day with a live theater show on cryogenics. After breakfast, they will have time to explore the museum again before attending the Omnitheater presentation “National Parks.” They’ll leave the museum shortly after 10 a.m.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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