Wild idea: 3M’s support increases access to the natural world
December 8, 2022

As part of its generous commitment to the University, 3M is helping the Bell Museum of Natural History build students’ excitement, confidence, and understanding of STEM by creating opportunities to connect around science and nature. These hands-on programs serve as a stepping stone to reach diverse communities in the Twin Cities.

Science & Nature Activity Kits

Support from 3M helps the Bell Museum work with community partners to provide fun-filled, take-home kits to kids and families who may not typically have access to STEM education resources or experiences. Each kit contains step-by-step instructions and materials for four different activities, ranging from recreating a bird’s motion in flight to drawing a model of the solar system with sidewalk chalk. 

Since the initiative’s launch at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 20,000 children have already enjoyed the free nature kits; a companion website for the program features brief how-to videos for each activity in multiple languages (Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Karen, Karenni, Ojibwe), as well as suggestions for additional reading and activities to explore topics more deeply.

K-12 Community STEM Nights

By hosting Bell Museum STEM Nights, K-12 educators and community members join 3M and the Bell Museum in celebrating and showcasing science across the state. The goal of the program is to generate enthusiasm among students and families for science, technology, engineering, and math by giving them a chance to explore STEM together at a special school community event. 

The Bell Museum provides all the necessary materials to facilitate activities at local schools that range from the science of taxonomy to learning about gravity in space. All activities are designed with non-science educators in mind, so anyone can feel confident leading them, from a parent volunteer during a STEM Night event or later on as an activity in the classroom. 

K-12 virtual and onsite STEM field trips

During in-person visits to the Bell, students engage with a range of activities that inspire STEM curiosity, from planetarium shows, to exhibit galleries, to science labs. These highly immersive visits allow students to interact with live animals, explore space, learn about Minnesota history, and more. The same topics form the core of virtual visits, in which a museum educator leads live, interactive programs online about the natural world and the universe around us. To expand the community’s access to these engaging STEM experiences, 3M supports both virtual and onsite programming, while also providing generous scholarship support to visitors.  

Thank you, 3M, for supporting creative and immersive ways to introduce young people to the natural world!

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