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
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,”
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