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Group of middle school students working in lab.

Hanby Middle School students get hands-on lessons in microbiology

By Christien Laber

Photography: Christien Laber

During a recent visit to OSU, the Hanby Girls STEM group interacted with members of the Department of Microbiology to learn about life at the microscopic level. As part of their two-day tour of the campus, the girls experienced hands on laboratory activities as well as short lessons on various principles of microbiology.

The department tour was divided into three activities lead by Cindy Fisher, Dr. Nicole Hams, and Dr. Cleo Davie-Martin, and aided by department graduate students and undergraduates. With Fisher, the girls learned about bacterial morphology through Gram staining, observing and contrasting Gram positive and negative bacteria under the microscope. They also inspected bacteriophage plaque assays and learned about their utility in counting viruses. Hams offered a crash course on fluorescent proteins and their biological functions. The visitors then had the opportunity to isolate their own fluorescent proteins, contrasting GFP and mCherry fluorophore qualities. Finally, Davie-Martin lead the students in an exercise illustrating the necessity of microscopic particles in the air to facilitate water condensation.

The Hanby Girls STEM group is a club hailing from Hanby Middle School in Gold Hill, Oregon with the objective of introducing students to research and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and helping bridge the gap for females pursuing STEM professions. Thirty-five Hanby students were in attendance, just less than one-third of the girls at the middle school. This was their second annual visit to OSU.

The outreach event was coordinated by Dr. Kim Halsey.

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