- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

LEAD, S.D. (AP) - Students from across South Dakota are going deep underground to learn answers to some of the most challenging science questions.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead has a Dakota Digital Network connection so researchers and others can connect with classrooms from deep beneath the earth’s surface.

“We want to be sure that this opportunity is open to students in big districts and medium districts and little tiny, tiny districts,” said June Apaza, director of education and outreach at the Sanford underground lab. “Whatever size school that you go to, it’s great to have opportunities available for all students.”

The Sanford lab is a former gold mine that closed in 2001. Five years later, owner Barrick Gold Corporation donated the property to the state for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the underground science lab.

Through the facility’s education and outreach program and the lab’s digital connection, educators are able to take students to rooms where experiments are being conducted in a way that wouldn’t be possible if a whole classroom was physically on site, according to Aberdeen American News (https://bit.ly/2oroa8y ).

The lab’s resources are also a recruiting tool for the lab and science, technology, engineering and math careers, Apaza said.

“The students that we are working with today are going to be the workforce of tomorrow,” she said. “And if you look at the needs of the workforce of tomorrow, we’re looking for an entirely different worker … and those students need to have very strong science, technology and mathematics skills.”

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, https://www.aberdeennews.com

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