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UST Has a DREME at Science Camp

This July, 40 Houston-area high school students interested in careers in science participated in D.R.E.M.E. @ UST Science Summer Science Camp. The camp provides students with hands-on experience in biology and includes activities designed to cultivate a curiosity and excitement about the subject.

This is the second year UST has collaborated with the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Educational Science Literacy Foundation to host the camp.

The administrator and faculty involved were Dean of Extended Programs Dr. Ravi Srinivas, Associate professor of Biology Dr. Maia Larios-Sanz and Assistant Professor Dr. Jill Dewey.

“Programs like these get students excited about science and expose them to the wonders of the natural world,” Dr. Larios said. “Many young student unfortunately get to experience science only through reading about it is books. This camp allowed students to actually do science, learning by engaging in hands on experiences. Programs like these help students see that science is a creative, exciting process, not just a collection of boring or random facts.”

Students participated in three days of activities that highlighted the diverse aspects of biology. Students began by exploring the diversity of living creatures with observations of living and preserved specimens. They isolated DNA from bananas and analyzed DNA fingerprints to solve a simulated epidemic. They also learned about how human genetic information is used in personalized medicine by doing a case study on Herceptin, a cancer drug that is efficient only if the patient has the right genetic background.

Several practical skills were taught as well. Students learned how to use a microscope, how to culture bacteria in the lab, how to isolate DNA and how to analyze DNA using fingerprinting and gel electrophoresis. Students were also encouraged to design their own experiments and gather, analyze and present their data to the group.

“Seeing the wonder of the discovery in the students when they see something new always makes my day,” Larios said. “It gives us a chance to do something different in the summer, and showcase UST to students who might not be aware of us or our programs. I also loved seeing our UST students represent our university so well and give great advice to the students on how to get to college and how to do well.”

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