They may not be ready to decide a major or even what college they want to attend, but they are intensely curious about the world around them. With that in mind, Burckhard Seelig and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, recently welcomed eighth graders from Heritage E-STEM Magnet School to campus in hopes of getting them excited about science.
“Our goal is to take the long view,” says Seelig. “We hope that these students can go to college, maybe even go to our college, and consider studying and pursuing a career related to biology. We hope coming to campus helps spark that interest for them.”
This is the second visit of students from Heritage E-STEM hosted by the BMBB DEI committee. In mid-November, the committee brought 30 students to campus with financial support from a CBS DEIJ microgrant. While on campus, they completed modules on protein structures (Elias and Seelig labs), took part in mini experiments in labs, took photos with Goldy Gopher and explored the CBS Conservatory & Botanical Collection.
“The group of students who went to the Conservatory right before lunch came to lunch about 20 minutes late,” says Seelig. “They were so interested and excited about the plants they were seeing that they wanted to stay. If they’re waiting to eat pizza because they’re excited about the plants, I’d say that’s a good thing!”
In addition to bringing students to campus, three of our current BMBB graduate students together with Seelig went to Heritage E-STEM the week prior to introduce themselves and give an overview of what their time on campus would look like. They also had the students conduct a quick experiment, swabbing a surface near them and putting it on a Petri dish to see what would grow. The results offered an entry point to connection between our graduate students and the eighth graders.
“When the eighth graders got here, they tended to be more quiet and subdued,” Seelig says. “But as soon as I asked about their Petri dishes, they lit up, telling us all about what grew after they conducted their swabs. It helped them come out of their shells a bit.”
These types of connections are exactly what Seelig and his colleagues hope the students get out of their time coming to campus.
“I really hope they enjoyed the day, but this is not just to entertain them,” Seelig says. “Our hope is that they’ll take it home and talk to their parents or siblings about it.”
Students explore some of the plant life at the CBS Conservatory.
Burckhard Seelig and students conduct mini experiments in the lab.
Goldy Gopher and a student compete in a pushup contest.