School May Be Out for Summer, but Science Is Always In

Dr. Aklin stands next to the podium, the title slide from her presentation on the screen behind her.

Dr. Courtney Aklin talked to the students about careers in science.

Just before the end of the school year, hundreds of middle and high school students from the Washington, DC area gathered at NIH for the National Library of Medicine’s third annual Science Pathfinders Day.

Through demonstrations, hands-on activities, and speeches, students got to experience what it might be like to work in a lab, a medical office, and, of course, a medical library.

Science Pathfinders Day is an example of the National Library of Medicine’s outreach to special populations. The day was part of a partnership between the National Library of Medicine, the Friends of the National Library of Medicine, and Mentoring in Medicine, a nonprofit organization that works to inspire disadvantaged and low-income students to become health care professionals.

Sweet and sour science lessons

Hands-on activities helped spotlight the diversity of science research.

Strawberries were smashed to extract and isolate DNA, and marshmallows, sprinkles, and candies were mixed to visualize the components of blood. But the activities weren’t all sweet.

A high school girl wearing safety goggles smiles broadly.

Activities were educational and entertaining!

Employees from NLM’s Toxicology Data Network created a question and answer game about the risks of common toxins. When the students answered correctly, a light bulb lit up.

Motivated to learn more

“Many of the students come from schools that don’t have labs. Science Pathfinders lets them see, explore, and experience science in real time,” said Lynne Holden, MD, co-founder and president of Mentoring in Medicine. “When I looked through the students’ evaluations, the most common words were ‘motivating’ and ‘inspiring.’”

At the end of the day, it was a wrap. Or shall we say a rap?

As a final activity, the students rapped about science for one another. More proof that even when school’s out, science is always in.

More Information
Mentoring in Medicine
MedlinePlus: Health Occupations
National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities
National Human Genome Research Institute, Education and Community Involvement