Members of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Society at San Antonio (BMEGS-SA) shared their passion for science and research on Feb. 20 with girls in the Girls Inc. afterschool program. Girls Inc. is a San Antonio based program working to “inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold.”
While there are many facets to this program, the BMEGS-SA group visited a couple groups of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders who have identified themselves as STEM focused students.
The afterschool program began with a career session, where BMEGS-SA members shared the personal stories that led them to pursue graduate degrees in biomedical engineering.
Additionally, each member spoke about their research and the importance of such research. Girls Inc. students appeared to be fascinated, actively listening and interacting with each of the speakers.
The second part of the afternoon was a hands-on portion, where the girls were able to participate in several experiments, including DNA Extraction (using strawberries), GloGerm, Oobleck!, and Fun with Dry Ice. With guidance from the graduate students, the girls donned gloves and actively participated in each of the experiments.
In the DNA Extraction experiment, the girls isolated and extracted DNA from strawberries using salt, soap, and isopropyl alcohol. This presented an opportunity to actually see DNA, providing a hands-on, fun way to learn.
In the GloGerm exercise, the girls were thoroughly amazed at how many “germs” remained even after washing their hands. This emphasized the importance of thorough hand washing. Additionally, the students made Oobleck, a substance made of corn starch and water.
The students had fun making this classic non-Newtonian fluid and experiencing its unique characteristics. Fun with Dry Ice introduced the properties of dry ice to the girls. Dry ice was placed in graduated cylinders filled with dyed water. Carbon dioxide bubbled to the surface of the liquid and created a vapor cloud around the graduated cylinders. As this happened, the girls gasped in amazement over the impressive show.
Overall, the program was designed to encourage these girls to be excited about science. The career talk allowed the girls to see how science can fit into their future. The hands-on experiments allowed the girls to be curious about various scientific phenomena and to truly feel what science is all about!
Tiffany Chance, a BMEG-SA member, summed it up best when she said, “I learned that science is more than just ‘holing’ yourself up in a lab to produce journal worthy articles. It’s about sharing a common love of knowledge- not just with your peers, but with our future scientists. Seeing the look of pure fascination and wonder on each child’s face was magical, and makes me strive to want to spread my love of science with as much of our youth as possible.”
This article was written by Allison Boehme, a first-year M.S. student in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program between UTSA & UT Health San Antonio.