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JHU, MDBio Foundation Bring Hands-On Science to 7th Graders

Redland pipette

Seventh grade classrooms at two local middle schools were awash in rainbows this month as students learned how to use micropipettes and explored equipment scientists use in real labs. (photo gallery)

Students from Farquhar Middle School and Redland Middle School are participating this year in Frontiers in Science & Medicine Day. More than 400 seventh graders from the schools will travel in October to the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center – including Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus -- for a day of hands-on science activities and tours. To prepare the students, staff from MDBio Foundation and JHU visited the students at their schools in September and taught them how to use micropipettes.

“We’re excited to be able to provide these types of hands-on experiences for middle school students,” said Brian Gaines, chief executive of MDBio Foundation. “The micropipette challenge gives seventh graders the opportunity to engage in a real-world laboratory activity that mirrors typical STEM careers that are abundant in this area.”

A micropipette is an instrument that measures liquids using the metric system and is usually used to measure amounts as small as millionths of a liter.

Using micropipettes, students had to follow a series of directions, putting different amounts of colored liquids into different test tubes to create the visible light spectrum. They mixed together red, blue and yellow solutions to make red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. They also reviewed the metric system and practiced math skills.

“This is where science comes to life,” said Michelle Lugo, a science teacher at Redland Middle School. “It really combines the science and math together, and that’s what STEM is all about.”

Amy Gensemer, supervisor of science, technology and engineering education for Montgomery County Public Schools, thanked Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus for teaming up with MDBio Foundation to bring hands-on science experiences to seventh graders. Many children, she said, have scientists in their families and are exposed to career paths in science fields. Other children, however, don’t have that exposure. That’s where schools and other community organizations need to step in and make science and associated career paths accessible to all students.

Approximately 3,700 students have participated in Frontiers since its inception seven years ago.

CATEGORY: Academics, K-12 Outreach, In The Community