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Experimenting in the lab

East Ridge High School special education teacher Krissy Boyd spent the last six weeks experimenting on a medical device as part of 3M's Teachers Working in Science and Technology (TWIST) program.

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series on teachers' unique summer plans.

East Ridge High School special education teacher Krissy Boyd said she loves teaching, and she would never do anything different.

That devotion was reaffirmed when she spent the last six weeks experimenting in a lab as part of 3M's Teachers Working in Science and Technology (TWIST) program.

"(TWIST) was a great reminder that I love teaching and I don't want to be in a lab all day," she said. "I really like teaching and being more social and involved and hands on with students."

The six-week TWIST program provides K-12 teachers with opportunities to work alongside 3M scientists and engineers on research projects such as testing polymers in different medical settings and various uses for reflective materials.

Boyd was assigned to experiment on a medical device in the company's infection prevention division. Boyd was not at liberty to say what the device was or what experiments she performed.

Diving into math

Boyd said the TWIST opportunity was sent to her by District 833 superintendent Mark Porter.

The program seemed the perfect opportunity for Boyd, who works with the math department at East Ridge.

"I wanted to get more real-life experience in math so that I could correlate that more and bring it back to my students," she said. "I don't have a lot of math experience myself, so to get more in-depth is beneficial for me."

During the six-week TWIST program, Boyd worked in the lab 40 hours each week performing tests, entering data into spreadsheets, constructing graphs and other work.

"It dove me into more math than I was used to," she said.

Twice each week, Boyd and fellow TWIST participants toured various labs to learn about different career opportunities.

Playing the role of a student

Boyd said one of the biggest challenges of the TWIST program -- other than the actual math concepts -- was taking on the persona of a student.

"Putting myself in the role of the student and learning new things again was definitely a challenge," she said.

Boyd said the first few days of TWIST were definitely overwhelming since she had absolutely no prior knowledge of the medical device or the experiments associated with it.

Luckily, Boyd said, she had a supervisor helping her along the way.

"Ultimately, it wasn't too bad of a learning curve," she said.

Boyd said the program left her with some valuable knowledge and experiences she can bring back to her students.

The lab tours revealed great career possibilities that she can share with her students, she said.

However, Boyd said the most important thing she will bring back to the classroom from her experiences with TWIST would be the importance of collaboration.

It's amazing the collaboration that goes on within that company," she said. "It reminded me that collaboration is so key -- it helps bring out the best in projects. It's so important that they learn how to work together."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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