Bayer volunteers provide STEM activities at summer camp
In 2011, there was an increase in gang activity in the Shakopee, Minnesota community. These gangs were targeting low income, Hispanic youth. Pastor Pat Simmons of the local New Creation Lutheran Church saw this activity and knew he had to reach out to the most at-risk, low-income youth in the area and fill the need that these gang members were trying to fill with something different; hope. As a result, Pastor Simmons created the Esperanza program. Esperanza reaches out to Shakopee area youngsters, providing them with transportation and various activities during the week, in addition to free breakfast and/or lunch on the days of participation.
This summer, Bayer will be bringing Making Science Make Sense, its STEM education initiative focused on science literacy, to Esperanza on Mondays and Wednesdays through July. Employee volunteers in Shakopee will take part in a four-week summer camp program held at numerous locations throughout Shakopee to provide hands-on science experiences to children.
On Mondays, Bayer employees will attend a camp held at Canterbury Park for approximately 70 youth ages 12-17. Canterbury Park is a local horse track that is only open late May through September. The participants at this camp location include the children of jockeys and horse trainers. They are largely part of a migrant family and travel with the horses when they are moved to southern states during the harsh Minnesota winters. Volunteers will be conducting hands-on science experiments with the kids, including Alka-Rockets, Balloon Skewers, Icky Sticky, and for the “grand finale,” Ice Cream in a bag.
On Wednesdays, Bayer volunteers will head to New Creation Lutheran Church to conduct experiments with approximately 95 children ranging in age from 3-11. To help engage the younger audience, additional experiments will be added to this camp location, including Bow Tie or Butterfly Chromatography, Oceans in a Bottle and Raisin’s Rising. In total, Bayer employees will be conducting 165 experiments each week or 600 over the course of the summer!
“I cannot thank our site leadership team enough for their support in this effort,” said Kerri Isder, coordinator of Making Science Make Sense at Bayer’s Shakopee location. “Mark Belden, Dale Kinney, Tom Barnes and Josh Heitzman have been instrumental in making this community engagement happen. Bayer and our volunteer team – Tony Jimerson, Greg Van Hauen, Rachel Swartz, Jeremy Vossen, Lisa Greene Vossen, David Vossen, and Jim Rauls – are dedicated to bringing science to life for these children. It’s going to be a STEM-filled and hope-filled summer.”
Esperanza, incidentally, is Spanish for hope.