Manual High School Lab Day turns skeptics into science enthusiasts

May 10, 2011

The biology department hosted a lab day for Manual High School students on April 27. Forty-three students participated in the event held in Olin Hall. The event came together when Manual High expressed interest in a science day at Bradley.

“The event was for kids from science classrooms at Manual High,” said Ted Fleming, a Department of Biology faculty member and one of the lab day organizers. “I enjoyed it, the students enjoyed it and we plan on doing this annually.”

Fleming was assisted during the event by Bradley biology majors Maria Rossi and Joseph Taura, who conducted one of the science day’s activities.

Susie Stear, project specialist with the Bradley Center for STEM Education, described the value of the event for students. “The purpose was to expose the students to labs and lab equipment that they don’t have in their school. It was really interesting because we started the day off with a sort of ‘ice breaker’ by asking the students how many of them were excited about science. Few of the students raised their hands.”

As the day progressed, however, the Manual students became more excited and engaged. The students had brought with them microbes that they had cultured from themselves and objects in their classrooms and, using Bradley’s labs, were able to view their microbes microscopically and extract and run their microbe's DNA on gels.

Rachelle Snopko, an educator at Manual High School, said the event went very well and that her students now have a renewed interest in science activities.

“Bradley went above and beyond to provide a hospitable environment and meaningful activities,” Snopko said. “Hopefully, the Manual/Bradley partnership will continue in the future, which would result in a yearly visit from the ninth-grade freshman.”

Feedback from the students was enthusiastic.

“The experience at Bradley changed my outlook on science because I got to see cool things I have never seen before,” one Manual High student said. “The field trip made me look at science differently. Now I think of the word ’fun’ when I think of science.”

According to the Bradley and Manual High School organizers, that was the plan all along.