ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - Thursday, hundreds of young students descended upon St. Cloud State University for the Spark STEM Conference.

Over 600 local students from grades 3 through 8 took part in a few of the over 20 hands-on STEM sessions ranging from cryogenics and snakes to robots and lasers.

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Alison Orgaard is the CTE manager at Resource Training and Solutions. She says the goal of the seminar is to inspire young learners.

We have invited cryogenics, snakes, (and) we have math with origami. We want kids to be excited about science and STEM. We want kids to walk away not only excited about what a college could offer but what careers might exist in the areas of STEM.

Christopher Kvaal is the chairperson of the Biology and Chemistry programs at SCSU and serves as the campus liaison to the Spark STEM Conference. He says the goal is to show students what’s possible with a career in science and engineering.

Our state needs more stem individuals and we are a public institution that has, as part of that mission, to serve our state. We have outreach events on campus, (and) we leave campus and do outreach events. The idea is to let the public know, as young as possible, that there are a lot of exciting things you can do with a STEM degree. And it's not just biology. It's not just chemistry. It's not physics, engineering, computer science. It's all of the above.

Students could choose from more than 20 sessions featuring hands-on experiences in several STEM-related fields.

The keynote speaker at the event was “Dazzling” Dave Schulte, a yo-yo professional and former technical education teacher. He amazed attendees with yo-yo tricks and the physics behind the skill.

For more information on Resource Training and Solutions, and the services they provide, find their webpage here.

Take a sneak peek at the STEM sessions:

A student feeds "meep", a salamander from twin-cities-based Snake Discovery, during the reptile biology session at the SPARK STEM Conference.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
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The 3M "Visiting Wizards" gave a session on cryogenics. Here is a demonstration of the noise when frozen nitrogen hits an aluminum plate.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
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In the robotics session, students experimented with small robots. The goal was to guide the robot to grab, and move, the block.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
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In the natural resources session, students learned about the wild animals and how they handle Minnesota winters.

Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
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