Outreach Event: Royal High School Students Visit Seattle BioMed

Photo credit: Theresa Britschgi

On Friday, March 16th, 2012, a bus load of Royal High School students traveled over the snowy mountain pass to arrive in Seattle in time for lunch at Seattle BioMed. By the time they got to Seattle, the sun was shining and there were an eager group of scientists waiting for them. This is not the first time we’ve met with the Royal High Students. We met Mario Godoy-Gonzalez, a science teacher at Royal High, several years ago at a SACNAS National Conference. Mario had started a SACNAS Club for his students, and many of them were actively involved, so we decided to form a partnership with the RHS SACNAS Club. For the past few years, we traveled to Royal City to present a workshop on college attendance and assist the students with labs. In June 2011, we brought a group of students from Royal City to the UW campus so they could have hands-on lab experiences and talk to college admissions and financial aid counselors at the UW. Some of our students have also mentored Royal High students at the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research’s Bio Expo each year. So, despite this long-standing relationship, we still like to meet with RHS students as much as possible. Mario contacted me back in February and said his students would be attending a program at Seattle BioMed in March, so I decided to organize a group of students to attend.

The day began with all of the students touring some of Seattle BioMed’s facilities. After that, we got together as a group and introduced ourselves and told our personal stories through graduate school. We were fortunate to have two Royal High alum amongst our ranks: Yuriana Garcia, a UW Sophomore and Abraham Guadarrama, a UW Freshman.

Photo Credit: Theresa Britschgi

Additionally, Katrina Claw, a PhD Candidate in Genome Sciences, Amber Caracol, a Biology Professor at UW Bothell and Seattle Central Community College, Simon Mendoza, a graduate student in Microbiology, and Sabrina Bonaparte (that’s me!), a PhD Candidate in the Sociology Department, attended the event. Simon showed the students glow in the dark bacteria, among other things and gave a great presentation about careers in Microbiology. After we spoke for a while, the students headed to the lab to dissect mosquitos and hear a talk from UW SACNAS Chapter member and RHS alum Abraham Guadarrama. Abraham’s talk was from his LSAMP‘s team research project: University of Washington Engineering Bridge Program: Polymer Synthesis and Mechanical Testing. Abraham provided the following quote describe his experience:

Abraham presenting to the group
Photo Credit: Mario Godoy-Gonzalez

“What better way to learn to ask great questions and always be thinking creatively than to interact with Science!!   Being a former Royal City SACNAS student and being able to share my experiences on how I have got involved in research with my LSAMP group in Polymer Synthesis and Mechanical Testing was a great privilege. After presenting our LSAMP project, I designed a hands on lab where students asked questions on the decomposition of different materials, as I talked about that in my presentation. What I saw was curiosity and the next generation of scientist, they were having fun learning science!!”

The Royal City students seemed to enjoy their time at Seattle BioMed. Here are some quotes from a few students (quotes provided by Theresa Britschgi):

Royal City Bacteria!
Photo Credit: Mario Godoy-Gonzalezstudents (provided from Theresa Britschgi):

“Hoy fue uno de esos pocos dias en el cual es divertido aprendar algo nuevo ya que hoy aprendi y me diverti bastante. Esto fue una gran experiencia que yo pienso que me va a motivar para segir estudiando.” – Royal City student

“BioQuest is a wonderful place. Seattle BioMed will help lots of people if they find a vaccine for malaria – and save a lot of lives.” – Royal City student

Our partnership with Royal High will not end here, as we have other events in the works for this year. Additionally, we have developed a great partnership with Seattle BioMed and plan to return for more high school student visits in the upcoming months.

A special thank-you to Mr. Mario Godoy-Gonzalez, for letting us know of this trip to Seattle, for always working with us and serving to a mentor to our chapter members, and for being a phenomenal role model and mentor for all of your students! Also, a big thank you to Theresa Britschgi, the BioQuest Director at Seattle BioMed for organizing this event, providing photos and quotes, and for inviting us back to meet with other students! We are very excited to continue our partnership with you!

UW SACNAS Chapter members with Mario, our favorite science teacher!
Photo credit: Mario Godoy-Gonzalez

Photo Credit: Theresa Britschgi

Sabrina Bonaparte is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department. Her research areas are Demography, Statistics and Education. She also wrote an earlier blog post about world population and is the manager of the UW SACNAS blog.  


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