Inside Salk - June 2008 - page 11

scientists normally discuss ideas and quietly eat their lunch, was
alive with boisterous chatter recently when 137 students and
teachers gathered to share their first-hand experiences in the labs.
Some students described looking at the fluorescent green heart of
zebra fish beating under a microscope while Cecilia Areta of Mira
Mesa High School said that dissecting labmice was an opportunity
she would never forget.
“I now like molecular biology so muchmore that I will probably
study it in college,” said student Cheryl Wang from Torrey Pines High
School. “I loved the environment and experience at Salk. I will
probably come back here one day.”
The students visited Salk inMarch for the 18
annual High
School Science Day. The program, generously sponsored this year by
longtime Salk Boardmember Charlie Robins, drew students from
schools throughout San Diego County to learnmore about biological
research and explore the possibilities of a career in science.
Organized by Ellen Potter, a neurobiologist who also runs the
Institute’s educational outreach programs along with science
education specialist Dona Mapston and a small army of volunteers,
High School Science Day serves as a “demystification” of science –
giving students the opportunity to see the work that goes into
achieving the milestones cited in their textbooks.
“These are definitely one-of-a kind experiences for San Diego
students since Salk laboratories aren’t open to the general public,”
Potter said.
After the welcome meeting, the students were separated into
small groups and assigned two laboratories to visit out of the 24
that participated – some of which focus on research in genetics,
stem cells, infectious disease and neurobiology. Each student was
also provided the opportunity to conduct hands-on experiments
and scientific demonstrations led by various Salk scientists and
lab technicians.
“This was definitely worth getting up early for on a Saturday,”
said Deepa Khatri of Mission Hills High School.
The day included a presentation titled “Winning and Losing:
Engineering the genome to enhance athletic performance” by
Ron Evans, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory at Salk,
who provided a fascinating look at the Institute’s cutting-edge
research. The combination of thought-provoking data presented
with a slide show liberally sprinkled with amusing graphics sparked
a lively question-and-answer session in the young audience that
only stopped because time had run out.
“The fact that a world renowned research center would open its
doors to us is amazing,” said Carrie Biggerstaff, a teacher at West
Hills High School. “Most students will not realize how this day has
impacted their life until many years from now.”
Student Kyle Thompson of Vista High School agreed. “This made
me really want to continue onmy path toward a career in biology,”
he said. “I got to see first-hand what my future could be like.”
Inside Salk June 2008
High School Science Day Opens
Students’ Eyes to Careers in Research
I now like molecular biology so much
more that I will probably study it in
college. I loved the environment and
experience at Salk. I will probably
come back here one day.
A student tries her hand at pipetting in a Salk laboratory (top), while a technician
(above) gives a brief presentation on the tools of the trade during a lab tour as part
of the 18th annual High School Science Day.
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