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Free giveaway! Of stereo microscopes?

Educators claim an aquarium at the giveaway. (Photo by Valerie Coit)

The University of Minnesota Duluth Swenson College of Science and Engineering held a special giveaway on Aug. 2 for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educators. Teachers and educators, from as near as Denfeld High School and as far as International Falls, travelled to the Swenson Science building to peruse science equipment and claim some items that may help them in the classroom.

"It's equipment that we can't or don't use anymore. We wanted to share the wealth with educators in the region so they could be able to utilize equipment that they might not have access to," said Charity Rupp, outreach coordinator for Swenson College.

About 50 educators lined up outside the door at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the event officially opened, according to Rupp. One educator, science specialist teacher Caroline Sorensen, arrived at 9 a.m. The Laura MacArthur Elementary teacher hoped to score a stereo microscope for her students kindergarten through fifth grade.

"The stereo microscope is like a dissecting microscope. You're able to look at entire specimens three-dimensionally, whereas in regular microscopes you're looking at just a very thin preparation on a slide," Sorensen said.

Sorensen had never been able to acquire a stereo microscope for her students before. It wasn't in her budget. But she was able to find one that Tuesday morning, as well as a regular, binocular microscope for just the right price: free.

"I'm excited to show the students new things. We'll use them when we study plants, animals, insects ... everything," Sorensen said.

The 50 microscopes were the first things to go in the giveaway, according to Rupp. The laptops shortly followed, as did the glassware, greenhouse pots, tanks, aquariums and storage equipment. Within 51 minutes, most of the supplies were gone and every teacher had gone through.

"Next time we could probably advertise it as being from 10 to 10:30 instead of 10 to 2 [p.m.]," Rupp said.

This is the second time UMD has hosted a science equipment giveaway. Rupp said they're likely to continue in the future, every two to three years. She said it's an important part of the college's outreach program.

"We do it because it gives an advantage to educators in the region. We're partnering with a lot of them and amping up our outreach activities," Rupp said. "This was one way to make a connection, have them come to campus and give them an opportunity that they probably wouldn't have access to normally."

Sorensen said she's grateful for the outreach programs the college does for teachers and she's especially thankful to not have to pay too much for glassware this year.

"Budgets are tight. And glassware is something you have to replace so often. So I have to thank them for extending the life of this equipment and helping us stretch our budgets," Sorensen said.

Kim Swanson of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center hauls educational equipment from the University of Minnesota Duluth. (Photo by Valerie Coit)

Madagascar hissing cockroaches were a living element among the supplies. (Photo by Valerie Coit)

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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