APHL Introduces Local Students to Lab Careers During STEM Event

By Laura Siegel, Specialist, National Center for Public Health Laboratory Leadership, APHL

“Wanna see something fun and twisted? This is my DNA,” says a nine-year-old boy with brown hair and glasses as he greets his mom, proudly holding up his self-made DNA necklace.

APHL Introduces Local Students to Lab Careers During STEM Event | www.aphlblog.org

He was just one of approximately 30 local students who attended an event called Science League: The Heroes of Public Health on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The event invited local students in grades 6-10 to participate in hands-on science activities and learn about careers in public health.

“If we make a difference in the career aspirations of just one student, then the event will be a success,” said Pandora Ray, Director of the National Center for Public Health Laboratory Leadership at APHL.

Students were able to extract their own DNA, make a homemade lava lamp, and create their very own oobleck, a gooey substance that has properties of both a liquid and a solid.

APHL Introduces Local Students to Lab Careers During STEM Event | www.aphlblog.org“I always thought I wanted to be a doctor when I grow up, but this event opened my eyes to other options,” said Ana De Lira, currently in ninth grade at eStem Public Charter High School.

While the students were conducting experiments, their parents toured the Arkansas Public Health Laboratory, located just a few blocks from UAMS. On the tour parents watched a live demonstration of a dry-ice bubble, examined agar plates, saw equipment used for HIV and Hepatitis testing and learned about newborn screening.

“I had no idea the lab does so much testing that effects the general public. I can’t believe they do so much,” said Tracy Hobbs, who attended the parent portion of the day.

This event was sponsored by APHL, The UAMS College of Public Health and the Arkansas Department of Health, with special thanks to Bio-Rad and Fisher for donating supplies. APHL plans to host a similar event prior to the 2015 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

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