Science Mill Provides A Hands-On STEM Summer Camp For Underrepresented Kids

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Bonnie Baskin, biotech entrepreneur and founder of Hill Country Science Mill, chats with ITSPmagazine’s Selena Templeton and Marco Ciappelli about Science Mill, a renovated 1880s gristmill that she transformed into a science center and STEM summer camp for underrepresented kids.

Image Source:  Science Mill

Image Source: Science Mill

Bonnie Baskin was fortunate that she loved science and was supported by her parents and teachers at an early age. She went into microbiology and got a Ph.D., and eventually founded and sold two companies.  

When she and her scientist husband moved to Texas for their retirement, she saw an abandoned 1880s gristmill (a mill for grinding grain) and started thinking of it in terms of kids’ interest in science.

In rural and/or underserved communities there’s no access to STEM for kids, but because there will be a need for over 3 million STEM jobs in this country by 2028 and we only have 1.5 million people with those skillsets (these numbers vary depending on the source, but the fact remains: we need A LOT more people), it’s imperative that we open up this door to more kids. How can kids imagine being something if they don’t even know what that is?

“You can’t fall in love with science by reading about it. You can’t fall in love with science by seeing a Powerpoint presentation of it. You really have to just do it  – you have to take things apart and put them back together.” ~ Bonnie Baskin

So she created the non-profit and interactive Science Mill and Museum as way to show kids different options and build curiosity in them.

All kids are born with an innate curiosity, but it’s usually during middle school that things start to change, particularly for girls, when all of a sudden it’s not cool to be smart and it’s not cool to like science. At Science Mill, they encourage the kids to take the fun and exciting things they learn here and make it relevant to their school work and personal life.

Some of the exhibits at  Science Mill .

Some of the exhibits at Science Mill.

Role models and parents’ support is super important, so whenever possible, they try to engage the parents, too. If parents can see that these are going to be the good jobs of the future (STEM), they will get onboard.

At the week-long summer camp, each day there is a different focus: one day it’s engineering, the next day it’s robotics, the next day it’s biology, etc. And in addition to summer camp, the Science Mill is also a museum for the whole family to visit.

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Be sure to visit the Science Mill website to learn more and get your child (or you!) excited about STEM! 


About Bonnie Baskin, Ph.D

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Founder and Chair of the Board, Bonnie is a career scientist and business entrepreneur who founded and served as CEO for two successful bio technology companies – ViroMed Laboratories, Inc. and AppTec Laboratory Services, Inc. – which she led to acquisitions by larger public corporations.

Among her current and past board memberships are the Minneapolis YMCA, the Minnesota Biotechnology Association, the University of Minnesota Office of Technology Commercialization Advisory Board, and Affinity Ventures IV and most recently the Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

Her many honors and recognitions include the “Entrepreneur of the Year / Minnesota and Dakotas” award and being a 2012 inductee of the University of Minnesota YMCA Hall of Fame. She has a home in Johnson City.