Hamline Elementary's Discovery Expo Gives Look Into Future

  • The partnership between Hamline Elementary and its neighbors at Hamline University is nothing new. The schools have been working together for 125 years, after all. It’s “two campuses, one community,” as they like to say.

    But a recent Discovery Expo event will strengthen that bond for years to come.

    “We want to find out, what are our kids’ passions and interests, and how do we use the university to provide an enriching and extended learning experience?” said Principal Kristin Reilly, in her seventh year at Hamline Elementary and her 30th in Saint Paul Public Schools. “Our belief is that kids learn when they have access to experiences not often present in their lives.”

    Enter the Discovery Expo. Reilly said the school didn’t want to host a traditional career fair for the PreK-5 campus. So they partnered with the university to create an immersive experience for the elementary students.

    Hamline University professors and students created interactive exhibits for nearly a dozen departments, including English, Education, Archaeology, Environmental Sciences, Music, Business, Health & Wellness, Journalism and Communications. Each elementary class went for an hour, spending seven minutes at each table, and some got to meet Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard. One of the more memorable experiences was getting to touch a sheep’s brain. Talk about hands-on!

    But the experience didn’t end there. The students had a passport, and went back to their classrooms to choose three areas that were the most interesting to them. 

    “Now the departments will create a more immersive experience,” Reilly explained. “At the end of May, our students will go back over to their respective departments in a college classroom and do a deeper dive.”

    The Discovery Expo also aligns with the goals of the district’s Office of College and Career Readiness, which works to increase opportunities for students to envision their future, explore careers and prepare for postsecondary education.

    The goal, Reilly says, is to build out a calendar where the elementary students go to the university once a month for an experience. This will expand as well, as Hamline welcomes Galtier Elementary students to its building next year.

    “It may be touring the theater one month, maybe making musical instruments the next,” she said. “Every year, each grade level experiences different topics, so by the time they’re done with Hamline Elementary they’ve taken a deep dive into 18 different subject areas. They’ll do a Capstone project in fifth grade to talk about the K-5 experience. We just think it’s going to build some deeper knowledge of self, and what their futures could look like.”

    Reilly said it was a rewarding experience on both sides: “That is why we were all flying high after. It’s always powerful seeing them walk across Snelling Ave., but to see them walking into Anderson Center and seeing their faces when realizing what their future could look like … it’s amazing.”