Jon Gean, of Eau Claire, also from customer correspondence , said he was excited to be part of the project to help students learn. “I think it’s pretty cool. I never had a chance as a kid to grow anything. Learning about agriculture is pretty interesting.”
Hoage also assembled eight reusable STEM plant kits and a genetics kit. The STEM plant kits contain an LED growing station and digital scale for elementary students to design and conduct experiments of interest. The genetics kit includes equipment for eight groups of students to make copies of DNA, separate the DNA based on size and visualize it.
The kit also allows students to learn hands-on about CRISPR/Cas9 technology, which is relatively new and being used in clinical trials to treat human diseases. Menomonie, Colfax and Boyceville schools will be using the kits this spring semester.
Hoage has made how-to videos for the kits as well.
“Combining the expertise of UW-Stout faculty and staff with the expertise of K-12 teachers results in great opportunities for K-12 students,” Hoage said. “I enjoyed working with the teachers and thinking about what great learning opportunities these kits will provide students. Having reusable kits that can be checked out by local school districts provides opportunities that students might not otherwise have.
“Genetics equipment is quite expensive, especially for several groups of students. School districts can save money by sharing the reusable kits, and the learning experience can be more valuable for students who work in smaller groups. I am so thankful for the generous funding provided by the Xcel Energy Foundation to make such opportunities possible,” Hoage added.
If teachers or school districts are interested in implementing the reusable STEM plant kits or genetics kits, contact Gindy Neidermyer, interim dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Educators with future ideas for kits should also contact Neidermyer at 715-232-4053.