The Black Hills region is brimming with opportunities in STEAM fields. From scientific research to archaeological discoveries as recent as the 1970s, attractions in the hills offer kids an introduction to the exciting world of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Taking field trips as a family is an easy way to stay local and learn something new. Another perk? A trip to Sanford Lab or an afternoon at the Journey Museum might just spark your kids’ interest in pursuing a career in STEAM.
Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center
Sanford Lab, located in Lead, offers free admission to their exhibit hall. Kids can examine mining artifacts, watch videos, and view a 3-D model of the underground. Visitors can also stop by the observation area to view the 1,250-foot-deep Open Cut. After exploring the museum, consider taking a one-hour trolley tour through historic Lead, beginning at Sanford Lab and the Yates hoist room.
SDSM&T Museum of Geology
Free to the public, the Museum of Geology is open Monday through Saturday. Explore exhibits on paleontology and mineralogy, including skeletons of dinosaurs, fossils from the Badlands, and a fluorescent mineral room. For a stay-at-home field trip, take a virtual tour of the museum and its exhibits, which vary from symbiosis to conservation paleobiology. The campus’ museum also organizes several events throughout the year, including an annual Night at the Museum and Dinosaur Eggstravaganza.
The Journey Museum and Learning Center
Based in Rapid City, The Journey Museum offers interactive STEAM classes for toddlers and school-age children every Wednesday through Saturday. Check out the museum’s exhibits on geology, paleontology, and archaeology, and enjoy a show at the planetarium. Before you leave, take the kids to the STEAM Lab, where they can try on a lab coat, look through a microscope, and explore a discovery box.
The Mammoth Site
If you’re planning a day trip to Hot Springs or live nearby, stop by the Mammoth Site with the kiddos. Check out the active paleontological dig site and stroll the nature and geology walkways. Are your kids interested in learning about animal tracks, erosion, or odontology? You’re in luck — the museum gives group classes for children in pre-K to 12th grade.
South Dakota Air and Space Museum
Located outside of the Ellsworth Air Force Base, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum is the perfect stop for any aviation enthusiast. The outdoor exhibit includes over 30 military aircraft, ranging from World War II bombers to the Minuteman II missile. In the indoor gallery, learn about aerospace technology, aviation heroes, and the tensions of the Cold War.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about STEAM — or why it changed from STEM to STEAM — you’re not alone. Find out what it’s all about and help your kids charge Full STEAM Ahead!