On MLK Day, over 825 people of all ages toured the Science Museum of Minnesota research labs. Scientists and exhibit designers shared how scientific discoveries are made at the museum.

The St. Croix Watershed Research Station research staff revealed a day in the life of a scientist. Young, future scientists (and their parents) learned about paleolimnology, fish ecology, and diatoms. Everyone had the opportunity to collect miniature sediment cores from miniature sediment layers. In a similar process to the way we collect lake and marine sediments, we used straws as coring devices to sample layers of scientific jello (zorbitrol). Then, we compared freshwater and marine diatoms using a research microscope.

Are you a salt-tolerant and tropics-loving Hydrosera or a colonial Fragilaria who just likes to go with the flow? Take this fun personality quiz to learn about yourself and diatom ecology: “Which Freshwater Diatom Are You?”

For us, introducing scientific concepts to young people is fun and rewarding. We could see the sparkle of curiosity in young visitors, who were excited to learn new things. Our visitors asked great questions about the world and we hope that some aspect of our time together will impact their lives. We strongly believe that science should be accessible to everyone.

Not only is science fun, remember that Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Science gives…knowledge, which is power.”


Tori Thrash

Undergraduate Student The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Iowa

Mark Edlund

Content Editor, Centric Diatoms Diatoms of North America, Editoral Review Board

Senior Scientist Science Museum of Minnesota

Hydrosera Whampoensis Guide
Image Credit: David Burge
Guide image for Hydosera whampoensis.
Fragilaria Mesolepta Guide
Image Credit: Behnaz Balmaki
Guide image of Fragilaria mesolepta.
Anomoeoneis Sculpta Guide
Image Credit: Tori Thrash
Guide image for Anomoeoneis sculpta.