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Science College Open House


The North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, originally in operation under the name State Scientific School, has its beginnings around 1903. Today, it is one of the oldest public two-year colleges in the United States.

Reports of ongoing events at the local school were often published in the Wahpeton Times, but visitors were not allowed to wander around at random. So it was of particular interest when, in 1914, the school extended an invitation to the general public to visit the school for an open house. The event took place on a Thursday evening, from 8-9:30.

Many residents took advantage of the opportunity, and on this date, they were abuzz with what they had learned. Many students and staff took part, stationing themselves in the labs and shops. Others acted as ushers, helping guests find their way. The staff and students presented some of their lessons and research in ways that resonated with the visitors.

In the biological laboratory, guests could view slides of animal and plant life via compound microscopes. In the agricultural department, students showed the method and results of the Babcock test of milk, for the purpose of determining the fat content; other students demonstrated seed testing and other matters "of interest to the prospective farmer."

Students in the physics lab were using a hand dynamo machine that generated electricity, giving shocks "to any party who wanted to try the sensation." They also had an X-ray machine, allowing visitors to look at the bones in their own hands.

In the electrical laboratory across the hall, one of the professors explained how a wireless telegraph worked. Visitors could even try on the head harness of the machine and listen for signals.

In the domestic science rooms, both men and women sat in on sewing demonstrations. They also enjoyed refreshments in the kitchen, an area where visitors were typically barred.

There was a lot going on, and the Wahpeton Times proudly reported, "Every visitor is loud in the praises of the school in what they saw and learned,” feeling a “renewed interest in this worthy institution." The appreciation shown by guests also left the members of the school feeling “highly repaid for the time and trouble.”

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



The Wahpeton Times, March 12, p1; March 19, 1914, p8; 26, 1914, p8