Young Scholars Cultivate STEM with D.R.E.M.E. @ UST
Houston, we have a solution. The University of St. Thomas, in collaboration with the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Educational Science Literacy Foundation, hosted the D.R.E.M.E. @ UST Science Summer Science Camp from July 30-Aug. 1.
Serving 42 high school students from the Greater Third Ward area, the camp strengthened University efforts in K-12 education and will complete UST's requirement from the U.S. Department of Education to promote and support students, research and studies in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
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. Larios-Sanz and Dewey were the co-instructors for the camp. Four UST National Science Foundation S-STEM scholars and biology majors served as interns.
"The students were really engaged and eagerly participated in all the activities," Larios-Sanz said. "They really were a bright bunch, and I think we achieved what we set out to do: engage students in science by letting them do science. All of the activities were very hands-on, so they got to do things for themselves. They also got a feel for a college setting the types of work they can do with a science career."
Foundation Chair Cheryl McNair attended the entire camp at St. Thomas to see the young scholars think critically and with interest in front of the microscope.
"The students engulfed the scientific method while dissecting frogs, snakes, rats and more," McNair said. "Additionally, they took swabs of areas inside and outside to gather bacteria to study. The campers showed great interest by asking many questions while completing tasks as they learned to extract DNA from bananas as well as their cheeks. They also learned information about detecting diseases and isolating DNA that could lead to the identity of a person."
The Foundation is named in honor of physicist and astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair, who died in the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger. The Foundation's mission is to promote educational programs designed to strengthen and support teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at all levels – elementary, middle school, high school and college.
McNair recently won the Aerospace Awareness Award from Women in Aerospace, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding women's opportunities for leadership and increasing their visibility within the aerospace community.
"The D.R.E.M.E. Camp partnership this summer with St. Thomas was a phenomenal experience for our young high school learners," McNair said. "Life and health sciences were presented to our youth in an exciting way with present-day, relevant and cutting edge information and hands-on activities. This exposure has had a great affect on many of the students as they have now mentioned a desire to study more and possibly attain careers in related fields of science, such as biological life science, inclusive of the studies that they received at UST."
This year, St. Thomas secured funding for D.R.E.M.E. @ UST from donors Ginger and Jack Blanton, C. Gregory Evans and Richard Stork.
Learn more about the D.R.E.M.E. Foundation and its efforts to reach young scientists with its many camps.