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Middle School Students Hone Their Science, Math Skills in Pipette Exercise

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Johns Hopkins University and MDBio Foundation staff visited two Montgomery County middle schools to teach seventh-grade students how to transfer liquids using micropipettes.

Once the students understood how to hold a micropipette, they followed a series of directions and put different amounts of colored liquid into different test tubes to create the visible light spectrum. They mixed red, blue and yellow solutions to make the colors of the rainbow.

The seventh-graders also reviewed the metric system, practiced math skills and learned that a micropipette measures liquids as small as millionths of a liter. To reinforce the concept, students learned how to play hopscotch with a decimal – essentially learning how to understand and calculate tenths, hundredths, thousandths, all the way up to millionths.

The activity took place at Briggs Chaney and Benjamin Banneker middle schools. Nearly 600 seventh-graders from those two schools are participating in Frontiers in Science & Medicine Day. Students will travel in November to the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, including the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus, for a day of hands-on activities and lab tours.

The pipette challenge, held about a month before the Frontiers trip, is designed to prepare students for their day in science labs and to show students real-world applications of what they learn in school.

“The pipette challenge was great for my students to see the tools that scientists use in real labs,” said Heather Burroughs, seventh-grade science teacher at Banneker Middle. “It was also encouraging to students that when they took their time and followed the directions carefully, they got amazing results: a rainbow right in front of their eyes.”

Meron Tesfaye and LaTrice Montgomery -- two JHU students enrolled in the Health Science Intensive program -- helped out. The students, who are pursuing master’s degrees in biotechnology, recently received their undergraduate degrees and were able to relate well the middle school students.

Approximately 5,000 students have participated in Frontiers since its inception 10 years ago.

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