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STEM lessons through Dakota College at Bottineau go virtual for area schools

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT
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VELVA, N.D. – As we move into another year of the pandemic, colleges and universities are making efforts to adapt activities during COVID-19.

Throughout the month of March more than 15 schools across the state have partnered with Dakota College at Bottineau to bring STEM lessons straight into classrooms.

Students in Mrs. Howe’s school and life skills class in Velva are doing a program directly related to the pandemic.

“I was kind of disappointed I wasn’t positive. I kind of wanted to be the one who was spreading it because I wanted to give it to Alex,” said Halei Degenstein, 8th grader.

The lesson’s called “Slow the Spread.” It’s provided by Dakota College at Bottineau and requires students to share water before revealing a positive spreader.

Students said the interactive exercise was a fun way to learn about contract tracing and controlling the spread of a virus.

“I was trying to figure out if I was the one that had it right away because my cup turned purple and everybody was saying it was me. But then I was like ‘Somebody had to come to me first,’ so I figured it wasn’t me,” said Ben Shepp, 8th grader.

“I waited for mine to turn pink and it never did. I was upset, I wanted to see pink. In real life you wouldn’t want to be the spreader but, in an experiment, and a fun game,” said Halei.

The college used a $4,000 grant from the state’s CTE program to bring STEM lessons virtual, rather than hosting students on campus.

They said they had to limit the number of instructors and prerecord lessons rather than teaching live.

“We would have much rather have had the students face-to-face number one, or even be able to interact with them number two. But this was our best opportunity and have had pretty good responses from teachers,” said Angie Bartholomay, DCB Associate Professor of Science.

After Velva Public Schools had to cancel their own STEM camp last year, teacher and counselor Kristi Howe said the activity was a great substitute.

I wasn’t really sure how they would react, it was interesting at the end how they were, you could see the wheels turning trying to figure out how the virus originated. I heard some of them saying ‘Oh that’s what happens in real life!” said Howe.

Getting creative with life lessons and relating them to reality.

Barthomay said the college has discussed offering the virtual lessons after the pandemic, but they’re still measuring the success of this first time.

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