Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Bioscience Day focuses on bringing students and science together

By Matt Pascarella

The Bioscience Association of Maine (BioME) held their fourth annual Bioscience Day on Thursday, November 21st. BioME is a non-profit organization that encourages the bioscience/biotech industry in Maine. During Bioscience Day, BioME recruited bioscience professionals from various companies across the state to speak to middle school classrooms about their careers and do a hands-on activity. 

Jaydn Kimball, Samantha Bell and Abi Coleman
look on as Renee Gallagher from Corning explains the pH process
Several scientists and engineers along with a veterinarian working in the pharmaceutical industry, spoke to eighth-grade students at Windham Middle School in Pam Mallard and Lisa Anderson’s classes.

In Pam Mallard’s class, a group of scientists and engineers conducted an experiment using phenol red, a pH indicator. The students added an acid or a base to the red and observed a color change; scientists use that color change to determine if cells are healthy or not. Students also learned about procedure and were taught what a safety data sheet is.

“BioMe wants to get kids interested in science,” remarked Corning Engineer Katie Hepburn. Corning Inc. is a technology company that specializes in materials science. Students learned that Corning makes Gorilla glass which is used in the iPhone and many other touchscreen phones.

“We want to expose them to what we do and how we got here,” stated Corning Engineer Amy Blakeley. “I never knew many job options were out there growing up and it is great to expose students to different science and engineering opportunities.”

There were many things students learned about bioscience – especially the types of substances used by Corning to make their products. “We learned about the materials that they make, how they work and how they use the materials that they make for cell testing,” student Jadyn Kimball stated after observing the Corning presentation. “It was really cool and interesting,”

In Anderson’s class, veterinarian and Project Leader for Dechra Pharmaceuticals, Roberto Garcia, gave a presentation about approaching science as ‘what can you do?’“It’s always important to know when you are in middle school what opportunities you have,” Garcia explained.

Part of Garcia’s job is supervising a team of individuals who might be making a drug for your dog or cat, or even your horse. Dechra Pharmaceuticals specializes in manufacturing veterinary medicines. During his presentation, he wanted to portray that the complex work done in drug development is not based on individuals, but by working in a team. He explained the time it might take to develop a new drug and how everyone on the team plays a part.

“I learned how many steps it takes for one vet to create a drug for animals,” student Jacob Earle said. “I thought it wouldn’t take that long and learned that sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

 “Today is an opportunity to give back to the community and it is important to try and help the students figure out what they want to do,” Garcia stated. “The key message is to be very open minded when your studying and to build on those experiences, because you don’t know what you’ll end up doing or enjoy doing.”

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