Outreach, innovation at UM Science Center Day

  • Published: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Drones that deliver vaccines. A bike that makes healthy smoothies. From community development to rocket science, the imagination and scholarship of University of Missouri faculty were on display March 7 at the St. Louis Science Center.

UM Science Center Day brought faculty, staff and students from the Columbia and St. Louis campuses to demonstrate the reach, value and relevance of their work to members of the community. The event, part of the MU Office of Extension and Engagement’s effort to connect university people and resources with off-campus audiences, was held in collaboration with UMSL’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement.

Kassandra Ormsby, a graduate student in the MU School of Music and project leader for the Higday + Mizzou Instrument Petting Zoo, knows how important this kind of outreach is to demonstrate the value of higher education.

“Access to arts education is important,” Ormsby said. “A lot of kids in our state only get one chance to find a musical instrument they like.” The selection can be limited, and as their skills and interest grow, there may not be an opportunity to expand their experience.

Thanks to a grant that Ormsby wrote, the School of Music received funding from the Paul D. Higday Mozart Trust for a traveling set of instruments that students of all ages can learn about and try. Kylie, a young St. Louisan, got to touch and play a clarinet, bassoon, violin, cello, baritone and trombone – several of which are bigger than she is. The sparkle in her eye gave away her favorite, even though she didn’t say its name: the clarinet.

If you ask members of a community what they like best about their neighborhood, or what they wish they could add, you can find a lot of common ground. That was the conversation MU Extension community development specialists Claire Rippel and Alex Reichert were having with families at the St. Louis Science Center.

Young participants drew pictures and others used sticky notes to help visualize as a group what their goals and priorities might be for their communities. And the specialists help connect the dots between those kinds of exercises and the tools and training people need to help build partnerships and work toward achieving common goals.

“It’s exciting to see the different areas of MU Extension and the UM System campuses come together this way,” Reichert said. “Not only is it great for communities to understand what education and resources are available to help with economic development, it’s also great for us to see what other parts of our system and our state are doing, and be better collaborators.”

It wasn’t just the adults doing the teaching at the event. Young innovators and educators who participate in 4-H had plenty to share as well. Anne and Chelsea, seventh and eighth graders at DuBray Middle School, were on hand to make sure that outreach efforts were inclusive of people with disabilities. Ian and Cannon, ninth and fifth grade home-schoolers, recruited kids and adults to participate in the 4-H VEX competitive robotics program.

“The universities within the UM System have at the heart of their mission to give back to their communities and to partner with Missourians to find evidence-based solutions that make a lasting impact on the challenges we face,” said Susan Renoe, MU assistant vice chancellor for research, extension and engagement. “We’re proud to be a part of events like this that help us get closer to the people we serve across the state.”

Photos available for this release:

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Evan Kshetri visits the robotics table March 7 during University of Missouri Science Center Day in St. Louis.

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Rian Pargo, right, draws a bow across a violin held by MU student Zachary Davis at the Higday + Mizzou Instrument Petting Zoo, part of the March 7 University of Missouri Science Center Day at the St. Louis Science Center.

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University of Missouri faculty, staff and students showcased their work through engaging hands-on activities March 7 during UM Science Center Day in St. Louis.

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At UM Science Center Day, young participants used notes and pictures to identify goals and priorities for their communities.

Writer: Megan Silvey

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Megan Silvey
573-882-3875

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