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Rotating through stations with 3D glasses, solar-powered fake insects, a fog machine, magnet games and more, Rapid City elementary students received a hands-on science and physics lesson on Tuesday. 

The Little Shop of Physics at General Beadle Elementary School was created by and is run by students and staff from the Oglala Lakota College. The program aims to encourage a passion for science in Native American students, especially girls. 

"I grew up when women were only supposed to be music teachers or nurses," said Misty Brave, a science and science education professor at OLC who works in community outreach. "Right now, the number of Native women in science is becoming limited."

Tuesday marked the first time the Little Shop of Physics visited an elementary school in Rapid City, Brave said. The program regularly visits North Middle School in Rapid City and schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Funding for the Little Shop of Physics comes from OLC and Colorado State University, where the program was developed. 

Chloe Gonzales and Keda Janis, both second-graders, said they enjoy learning about science.

"You figure out things that you don't really know about," Gonzales said.

"You get to do some fun projects and do amazing things," Janis chimed in.

Gonzales said she's never used machines like the ones at the Little Shop of Physics. Her favorite was one that let her create art with polarized light. Janis was fascinated by watching magnets grab objects.

"It's important to learn that science is not a mythological subject. Anybody can do science, especially this kind of science because it's all hands-on," Brave said. 

She said science lessons can be applied beyond the classroom: "The process of science is all about problem solving and if we use that process of science, the scientific method, then I think a lot of personal and social problems could be solved as well."

The Little Shop of Physics will return to Rapid City for its debut appearance at Grandview Elementary on Feb. 19. 

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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