Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Mines’ Spring 2024 STEAM Café Presentations Feature Interesting and Strange History, a Chemistry Demonstration, Environmental Issues

South Dakota Mines, in collaboration with South Dakota Public Broadcasting and Hay Camp Brewing Company, presents the Spring 2024 STEAM Café lineup.

South Dakota Mines welcomes curious minds of all ages to its Spring 2024 STEAM Café presentations.

STEAM Café, an ongoing series of free informal talks by Mines faculty, staff and visiting experts, is a partnership between the university, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and Hay Camp Brewing Company. 

An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, STEAM Café is held at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Hay Camp Brewing Company in Rapid City.

The 2024 spring STEAM Café lineup includes:

Jan. 16, 6 p.m.

Celebrating 100 Years: A Brief History of the Museum of Geology

Presented by Kayleigh Johnson, assistant director of the Museum of Geology at South Dakota Mines

Originally founded with the university in 1885, the South Dakota Mines Museum of Geology opened to the public in 1923. Over more than a century, the museum has remained a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Kayleigh Johnson, the museum’s assistant director, will tell the fascinating story of the museum's origin, highlight some of the major characters who developed the museum's legacy, and discuss several iconic moments in the museum's history – including a visit from President Calvin Coolidge, and the mounting of the fossil skeletons seen on exhibit today.

Feb. 20, 6 p.m., Beck Ballroom, Surbeck Center*

Mines Magic Show during Engineers Week

Presented by Mines students with the ACS university chapter

Join us as Mines students with the university chapter of the American Chemical Society present their popular “magic show” featuring science-based demonstrations, including the liquid nitrogen cannon. *Please note: this presentation will be held on campus at the Surbeck Center’s Beck Ballroom as part of Mines’ Engineers Week activities.

March 19, 6 p.m.

Extremophiles: Can Underground Microbes Clean the Atmosphere?

Presented by Dr. Bret Lingwall, associate professor in the South Dakota Mines Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

At the Sanford Underground Research Laboratory (SURF) in Lead, billions of microbes known as “extremophiles” live deep underground. These extremophiles could help trap carbon dioxide gas in order to mitigate global warming. Dr. Bret Lingwall, associate professor in the South Dakota Mines Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, is part of a Mines research team examining these hardy SURF inhabitants and will discuss how extremophiles function and interact a mile underground, as well as their potential role in atmospheric carbon dioxide reduction.

April 16, 6 p.m.

Storytelling for Just Environmental Futures

Presented by Dr. Matthew Henry, assistant instructional professor in the Honors College, University of Wyoming

In the midst of the global climate crisis, transitions are often discussed in terms of shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy. But the term “transition” also describes efforts to adapt and adjust to changing environmental conditions in ways that are responsive to ongoing colonialism, racism, and class inequality. The pursuit of this kind of “just transition” is aided by stories that help us apprehend the causes and effects of structural violence and use that knowledge to redress past harms and build livable, equitable futures. However, storytelling and other forms of “non-expert” knowledge are often marginalized in policymaking processes. Dr. Matthew Henry, assistant instructional professor in the Honors College at the University of Wyoming, will draw on his water and energy justice research and community engagement in Wyoming and beyond to show how storytelling is critical to achieving a just transition.

May 21, 6 p.m.

The Conic Sections Rebellion: College Mathematics Textbook Cremations in 19th Century America

Presented by Dr. Travis Kowalski, head of the South Dakota Mines Department of Mathematics

In 1825 and 1830, students at Yale University protested changes in their mathematics curriculum by refusing to take their geometry exams; 43 students would be expelled. In the aftermath of the so-called Conic Sections Rebellion, students at Yale began the annual tradition of a clandestine midnight funeral for their mathematical education, culminating with the burning and burial of their geometry textbook. The tradition spread over the next 70 years across American colleges and evolved into increasingly elaborate theatrical funerary performances with sermons, eulogies, hymns, marches, and a growing cast of mathematical characters – before disappearing almost overnight at the start of the new century. Dr. Travis Kowalski, head of the South Dakota Mines Department of Mathematics, will reflect on what this meant to students then and what we might learn today from this strange bit of mathematical history.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Gray Hughes, 605-394-2554, Gray.Hughes@sdsmt.edu