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Science Night Goes To Flatonia

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Community Outreach | February 26, 2016

In the furthest Science Night yet, the Voelcker Biomedical Teacher Academy and the Office of Career Development at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, travelled to Flatonia to engage students with science.

“This was Flatonia’s very first Science Night. The turnout for the event truly demonstrates that the science night was a community event, bringing together all age groups from Flatonia and the surrounding area,” said Rosemary Riggs, program director of the Voelcker Biosciences Teachers Academy.

Flatonia is a close-knit, rural community located halfway between San Antonio and Houston.

“There is a definite need for science nights at our rural schools,” she said. “They have limited opportunities for their students to engage with scientists and their students need to be included as part of the bioscience career pipeline.”

Riggs explained that the goal of science nights is to help science teachers access the science resources available in San Antonio which will in turn, increase student awareness of the diverse science career options available to them.

“We are continuing to offer our C3 Workshops (coffee, collaboration, and collegiality) for area teachers. Many of the presenters are graduate trainees. We are also receiving requests for presenters for Career Days at area schools,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for graduate trainees to connect with K-12 students and the community.”

Neelam Mukerjee, an alumnae of the Cancer Biology discipline and current postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Robert Svatek, participated in the Flatonia Science Night.

“It was absolutely exhilarating to see young children so excited about science,” she said. “Some of the students had quite a strong foundation in science and it was great to share some of our career experiences with the science students who appeared very interested in research and science.”

Riggs explained that last year the VBTA and OCD collaborated on two science nights. This school year, they have supported three science nights with 16 more schools interested in hosting a science night with our help.

“At the Flatonia Science Night, we had a secondary science teacher from LaGrange Texas, two hours east of San Antonio, ask if we could support a science night at his school,” she said. “I also had a chance to speak with Beverly Mikulenkda, Flatonia ISD Superintendent. She was extremely excited to see such a large turnout by the community and to have the UTHSCSA community come to Flatonia to support their students.”

Riggs explained that as the program continues to grow, distance might not be a factor.

“We may not be able to physically support extremely rural schools, but with technology, perhaps we can visit virtually,” she said

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