6th graders in Austin and their chance to save the world

6th graders in Austin and their chance to save the world

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(ABC 6 News) – On Monday, the Hormel Institute welcomed more than 60 Austin Public School students for a day of science. The sixth graders were working with scientific data, but were given a scenario to work with.

Their mission was to stop a cow-pocalypse. A disease that would transmit from cows to humans, turning humanity into zombies.

While that scenario was made up, these students worked with real scientific data to find a solution, and save the world.

James Thompson is a STEM researcher and instructor at the Hormel Institute, but he’s never had a group of sixth graders brought in like this to teach with newly acquired data from his job.

Thompson has been working on this lab experiment for the IJ Holton students for weeks, but the inspiration dates back to when his kids were younger and made a short film for the family.

“They can discuss with others data that they know from their own or that they are given from their own background of knowledge. But also data that’s also coming in from the course of the game,” said Thompson.

Harper Wadding is one of those sixth grade experts. She and her team of classmates believe the cause of the outbreak was the West Nile Diseases.

“We thought it was a West Nile Diseases because there was a message intercepted between two people and they decoded it and it was talking about the West Nile disease and they were talking about vaccinees because that was what it is,” said Wadding.

And while Wadding and her classmates didn’t discover the correct disease, they still found it to be great learning and team building experiment outside of the classroom.

“It’s pretty fun because we get to be epidemiologist and figure out what’s happening. Cuz we could just walk around the classroom and just ask for like, what they think it is and what they have evidence to that,” said Wadding.

Dr. Thompson is planning to do similar experiments two more times this year with Austin Public Schools students and hopes to use new real time data for those groups as well.