High school students have bioscience fun at MN West
WORTHINGTON — In preparation for the 10th annual Regional Bioscience Conference — which begins today and continues through Friday — high school students from Worthington, Adrian, Luverne and Jackson participated in a preconference lab day Wednesday on the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Worthington campus.
Students partook in a series of labs dedicated to the sciences. Representatives from Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, the Worthington Veterinary Medical Center and Bioverse were present to give students hands-on experience about different bioscience sectors.
Tim Tripp, director of the Biotechnology Resource Center for the University of Minnesota, gave students an introduction to microbiology.
“I actually wasn’t sure what I was going to do because I didn’t know the type of equipment that would be available to me, but when I got here (Minnesota West) I was very happy to see a lab of this capability,” Tripp said.
Tripp’s goal was to educate students on general ideas of microbiology and what it does for people.
“Microbiology covers everything from human health, food, biotechnology and other types of contributions to society that people don’t realize microbiology has made,” he explained. “For example, the human gene sequencing was a result of microbiology.”
To demonstrate microbiology’s importance, Tripp had students test the two major classes of microorganisms, gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.
“We learned how microbiology can be hurtful and helpful to people,” said Sierra Sumnis, a junior at Luverne High School.
“They can make you get sick, but they also help people digest,” added Andrea Severtson, another Luverne junior. “They make food, and they help ferment things.”
During the lab, students identified the organisms that were gram-positive or gram-negative.
“If the cell wall is thicker than the bacteria will show a stain of purple, which is gram-positive,” Tripp explained. “If the cell wall is thinner that means it’s gram-negative, and it will stain a pink color.”
Students also looked at the different shapes of the cells, Tripp added.
“It was cool to test the different types of grams and see the two stains of colors,” said Autumn Norman, a Luverne High School junior.
Tripp said that by the end of each lab, he hoped students would begin to understand the effects microbiology has on them every day.
“It shapes a lot of what we do, and it’s important for students to at least have a general understanding of what microbiology is,” he said.
The 10th annual Bioscience Conference is set from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Worthington Event Center. For more on the conference, visit worthington-minnesota.com.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.