University of the Ozarks sophomore Bethany Watts is more than happy to share her love of science, especially with young people.
U of O student Bethany Watts shows the seventh-graders how to swab the inside of their cheek to procure cells that they can examine under a microscope.
Watts was one of seven students from Dr. Sean Coleman’s Principles of Genetics class that recently presented a science lab to five different science classes at Lamar Middle School.
The U of O students brought microscopes and showed the seventh-graders the different components of the equipment and how to use them. They then led the students through a process of staining and examining cheek cells. The staining helped the students see the cells by adding color to their transparent parts.
"I’m always happy to talk about science with children, anywhere and anytime," said Watts, a pre-medicine and biology major from West Fork, Ark. "It’s great to see their faces light up when you help them discover something. Maybe this will be the spark for them to really get into science."
A total of approximately 90 seventh-graders were able to take part in the science labs.
"I think it’s great that we’re able to be here and help seventh-graders get excited about science," said Breanna Hiatt, a sophomore pre-veterinary medicine major from Russellville, Ark. "It reminds me of when I was that age and was really getting into science."
Lamar science teacher Aimee Pearson said the visit by U of O students was a special treat for her classes.
"We just finished our first chapter which covered body organization, cells, tissue, organs, organ system, the skeletal system, and the muscular system, so this was perfect timing," Pearson said. "The kids have been very excited about having the college students here. They look up to college students as role models and it’s good to have them in our classes helping with hands-on experiments."
Riley Skaggs, a sophomore pre-medicine major from West Fork, Ark., said she also got a lot out of the teaching experience.
"It’s definitely fun and something different to get out of class, but it’s also good for us," Skaggs said. "We’re able to come here and put into words and try to teach things we’ve been learning about. It makes you think about what we’ve learned and how to apply it and explain it. I think it’s very helpful."
Coleman, professor of biology at Ozarks, said he hopes the traveling science lab becomes an annual event.
"I think it’s good community service, but also I think it’s good for these seventh-graders to see and interact with college students," Coleman said. "They see and meet our college students, who many also come from small, rural schools, and they realize that, maybe, college is an option for them. It can give them the confidence to set higher goals and put college into their plans."
Along with Watts, Hiatt and Skaggs, U of O students Alex Lewis, Magan Holmes, Mikaela Regester and Allison Clark also took part in the project.
University of the Ozarks students (from left) Mikaela Regester, Alex Lewis and Bethany Watts assist students at Lamar Middle School with examining cheek cells under microscopes