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COMMUNITY: Inspiring the next generation

 

Texas Biomed’s commitment to young people and science education has kicked into high gear in 2021 and 2022. Even while in-person campus tours were suspended due to the pandemic, the Education & Outreach team developed virtual campus tours for schools and afterschool clubs. During the virtual visits, Texas Biomed scientists share information about the Institute, their research and bioscience careers, while answering student questions via video conference. This format has enabled Texas Biomed to connect with even more students beyond San Antonio.

“I am glad we have organizations such as Texas Biomedical in our backyard! It’s such a great opportunity for our students to see how their STEM education can lead to fulfilling careers!” says Terri Behling, District Director of Public Relations for Harmony Public Schools South Texas District.

As in-person events have returned, Texas Biomed has attended numerous career fairs and science nights at elementary, middle and high schools. These provide opportunities for students to talk with scientists and learn how they, too, can become scientists. Students also engage with scientific processes, starting with observations and questions as they, for example, seek to determine how many drops of water can fit on a penny.

The Institute also partnered with the Witte Museum to offer fun science activities for museum visitors. Microbe Mania was a hit! Kids, teens and adults alike enjoyed putting on gloves, goggles and lab coats and making “pathogens” out of Play-Doh. The community also had a chance to learn about parasites, animal care and high-containment research during Texas Biomed’s DreamWeek Research Hero Expo at the museum.

“The event really opened my eyes to what it takes to conduct this high-level scientific research that ends up benefitting the entire population,” says Lucinda Storz, a college freshman who attended the expo. “Before, I didn’t know what a biosafety lab was, and I didn’t know anything about the great care scientists put into handling the deadly pathogens they’re studying. It made that kind of fascinating work real to me.”

Likewise, 7-year-old Jackson enjoyed learning about research in cells and animals: “I loved it a lot. I want to be a veterinarian so I can help animals.”

Helen Holdsworth, Chief of Engagement for the Witte Museum, appreciated how the activities and events provided timely information for children and families directly from local scientists.

“Having Texas Biomed at the Witte was so powerful for our visitors,” she says. “It is a privilege to be able to share the great work being done at Texas Biomed with the community at the Witte Museum.”

All of this outreach requires an army of Texas Biomed volunteers donating hundreds of hours, with resounding results: Texas Biomed has engaged with more than 2,500 students, parents and community members in just the first quarter of 2022, with much more to come. For example, Texas Biomed is welcoming college interns from across the region and country for in-person training this summer. The six week internships span diverse fields from veterinary care to research, to education and communications.


This story appeared in the Summer 2022 edition of TxBiomed magazine. See more stories from TxBiomed here.