The University of Washington SACNAS chapter engages local community colleges as part of its effort to mentor newly minted regional SACNAS chapters and hopes to inspire STEM students to seek leadership roles, and start SACNAS chapters on their campuses. In order to achieve ongoing community building across undergraduate institutions, UW SACNAS strives to network with undergraduates at the local colleges. Recently, the UW chapter welcomed the Bellevue College (BC) Chapter (WA) to one of its monthly meetings to encourage the exchange of ideas and student-driven resources. In the future UW SACNAS students will be presenting their research at BC and interacting more with their new network. BC students now have a full-fledged SACNAS chapter and we hope we can continue to work together to promote scientific diversity and community in the Puget Sound area.
The newest connection was established with Shoreline Community College (SCC) students at the 2013 annual Shoreline-wide science fair and STEM Career expo. UW comparative medicine research scientist, Ray Koelling, organized this event and invited UW SACNAS students to provide a hands-on science activity for the day. Genome Science PhD students, Daniel Chee and William Edelman attended the career expo and displayed live zebrafish and fruit flies for scientific observation. As well as provided an overview of some analytical chemistry techniques used in William’s thesis laboratory at UW. Students in grades 4-12 were instructed to identify variation in the animals’ physical features characteristics and were encouraged to think about how DNA could code for such features. Even if the younger students hadn’t yet formerly learned about genetics, the simple explanation of the molecular players and concepts began to inspire questions like, “do I have DNA, too?” Which usually lead to further curiosity and interest by many of the visitors. Simply engaging the imagination quickly leads students to at least ponder the concept of the observed biological phenomena. Even unassuming parents began to ask questions about the relevance of such knowledge and contemplated biological questions they hadn’t considered since their last formal biology class. William and Daniel lead these demonstrations for dozens of aspiring STEM students.
As a result of the visit to the SCC, UW-SACNAS recently returned to present scientific research to the SCC Undergraduate Science Club. The goal was to provide these students with a glimpse of graduate level work in the life sciences and open the doors for questions about academic research and how they might pursue advanced degrees in science. The chapter wishes to invite the SCC science club to the UW campus for a visit and provide some community to those who wish to transfer to the University in the future.
The UW chapter welcomes more interactions with diverse groups in the greater Seattle area from high schools to colleges, and it will honor its mission to achieve diversity in the sciences.
Keep coming back for more brief updates and photos about student-led activities by SACNAS UW!