Dr. Katrina Jensen, assistant professor of chemistry, shows a group of Belle Fourche middle school students the science behind determining the type of material used to ignite a suspected arson fire.
More than 20 eighth graders from the Belle Fourche Math and Science Club spent a day with Black Hills State University science professors touring the University labs and engaging in activities across various science disciplines.



Students engaged in a variety of hands-on learning including:

  • determining the material use to ignite a suspected arson fire,
  • experimenting with a chemical reaction with potassium chlorate and gummy bears,
  • analyzing evidence samples in a mock wildlife forensics poaching case,
  • exploring the unknown material that makes up 80 percent of our universe.


“It was a great opportunity for them to see what studying science is like on a college campus and to learn about different careers in science,” according to Dr. Katrina Jensen, assistant professor of chemistry.


The students visited chemistry, biology and physics stations with activities presented by Jensen, Dr. Brianna Mount, postdoctoral researcher in experimental nuclear and astrophysics; Dr. Cynthia Anderson, assistant professor of biology; and Forrest Cain, research associate with the  BHSU Center for Conservation of Biological Resources/West Core.


Wendy Garman a parent from Belle Fourche said activities like this are perfect for her daughter, Tiann. “She’s a very hands-on learner,” Garman said of her daughter.


Jensen said all the students were engaged and interested in the science activities and plans organizing other similar activities in the future.


BHSU, which has seen an increase in the number of science majors in the last decade, offers degrees in applied health sciences, biology and biology education, chemistry and chemistry education, environmental physical science, and physical science. A graduate program in integrative genomics is also offered.  BHSU students will showcase some of their projects at the Black Hills Research Symposium March 19-21 on the BHSU campus.