Fermilab Accelerators Hit The Prairie

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Traipsing through the prairie collecting seeds may not sound like the cutting edge science done at Fermilab, but that’s exactly what these students did as Fermilab Accelerators.

“Teaching our students about ecology and the environment and how it relates to them and how it relates to their communities at home and how it relates to the world around them is really important,” said Fermilab Ecologist Ryan Campbell.

The three-day program began by giving students from Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley, and other area high schools the chance to tackle problems with 3-D modeling and computational thinking.

But on the third day, it was time to get their hands dirty on the prairie.

“We learned so much about ecology, the environment, new seeds and new animals,” said Juan David Campolargo, a junior at Metea Valley. “And especially me, if I learn something or I see an opportunity, we can make a non-profit company so we can help those animals.”

Fermilab studies many different STEM-related fields and the Accelerators program aims to give students from minority groups a sampling of the different subjects they work in.

“A lot of these students were identified by their teachers as interested in STEM careers, but a lot of them have not been exposed to these careers. Part of my job is to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM,” said Fermilab’s Diversity and Inclusion Specialist Mario Lucero.

The program wrapped up with a trip to the bison barn where the students learned the animals are meant to inspire the scientists to stay on the frontier of innovation in their field.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.