The Center for Rural Education in Science and Technology (CREST) was established at the University of Minnesota Crookston in 2022 to allow surrounding underserved, underrepresented schools to afford equal opportunities in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Their focus is on enhancing, improving and impacting STEM accessibility in education, and they provide professional development, classroom instruction, STEM competition support and on-campus educational opportunities for students and educators.

In order to best serve the education needs in northwest Minnesota, one of the needs to address is equipment that students and educators can use to better understand agricultural based STEM concepts.

“These items can be expensive and not feasible for each school district or home-school group to purchase,” says CREST and STEM Outreach Coordinator Amber Murry. “CREST plans to offer groups the opportunity to experience activities that more affluent communities have access to. This could be done either by bringing a mobile lab to their location or visiting the UMN Crookston campus.”

CREST is currently fundraising to purchase the equipment and infrastructure needed to make a mobile lab possible. To make a donation to the Center for Rural Education in Science and Technology (CREST), visit

Another need that CREST could address with a mobile lab is the lack of resources and logistics of school districts offering out-of-classroom educational experiences. Schools are having a hard time finding support personnel (e.g., substitute teachers, bus drivers) to provide opportunities for students to engage in educational activities outside of the classroom. With the mobile lab traveling to the school, it eliminates that barrier.

Over the 2022-2023 academic school year, CREST events included:

  • 6th-8th grade scientific inquiries with Franklin Middle School of Thief River Falls
  • 43 students from Homelife Homeschool Group K-12 doing a tour of the University Teaching and Outreach Center, and learning about potato enzymes, robotics, and food analysis
  • 20 students from Crookston Boy Scouts learning about copper chemistry, DNA, robotics, and fingerprinting
  • 12 students from a homeschool group learning about fatty lab, DNA, robotics, and virtual reality
  • 43 students from Ada-Borup High School 9th-12th grade learning about copper chemistry, potato enzymes, VR, robotics, 3D printing, and food analysis
  • 175 students from East Grand Forks Middle School 8th grade learning about Earth science and plate tectonics
  • 57 students from Warroad High School 9th-12th grade doing a tour of the greenhouse and steam plant, and learning about copper chemistry and potato enzymes
  • 15 students from NW MN Achievement and Integration 8th grade learning about potato enzymes and food analysis, and doing a tour of UTOC, sustainability on campus, steam plant, and solar panels
  • East Grand Forks Library group learning about DNA in food and DNA gels
  • 33 students (13 families) from Polk County Homeschool Group in the food analysis lab, environmental lab, and ELISA DNA lab
  • World Food Prize Immersion session for 15 Grand Rapids 10th-12th grade in the protein analysis lab and teacher training
  • 11 students from Crookston homeschool 5th-12th grade running water quality analysis, food analysis, and in the ELISA DNA lab
  • 43 students from Homelife Homeschool Group K-12 running water quality analysis, freshwater sponge lab, macroinvertebrate lab, and citizen science demo
  • 98 students from Mahnomen Elementary K-3 learning about streams, tables and pollution tables, soil science, and water quality

CREST’s summer schedule includes stops at the Mahnomen STEM Camp, Norman County Fair, Wadena County Fair, Mahnomen County Fair, Polk County Fair, Kittson County 4-H Camp, Pennington County Fair, Roseau County Fair, Marshall County Fair, Robotics & Technology Camp, Kittson County Fair, Rock County Fair, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Summer Adventure Camp (July), Marshall County 4-H Camp, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Summer Adventure Camp (August), Steven County Camp, and East Grand Forks Summer STEM Camp.

For more information about CREST, visit or contact Amber Murry via email at or call 218-281-8265.

Student working a STEM project with Associate Professor Tim Dudley
Group of students that attended the UMN Crookston to work on STEM projects

Story Contact: Amber Murry - - (218) 281-8265