By LAUREN MCDONALD firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle and high school students took over College of Coastal Georgia's campus on Friday for its annual Math and Sciences Expo, where the students were able to explore a variety of topics, including biology, art, physics, chemistry and more.
Coastal's School of Arts and Sciences hosted the event and invited more than 400 students from Glynn and surrounding counties, including Brantley, Camden, Charlton, McIntosh and Wayne counties.
"They love it," said Mallorie Blount, a teacher who came to the expo from Arthur Williams Middle School in Jesup. "They get to do hands-on things we don't have the equipment for or the access to."
Blount, who brought more than 80 students, said they got to experience learning from college professors and working in college labs and classrooms.
"I'm hoping they'll get interested in possible careers," Blount said. "They're clueless about how to get jobs in the sciences, they're just learning about them in class."
In Holly Nance's genetics lab, the assistant biology professor gave students a forensic sciences lesson and took them through the steps of extracting DNA from strawberries.
"Let's say you want to solve a crime, and you're given samples from a crime scene," Nance said. "The first thing you have to do is extract the DNA, right?"
The students took crushed strawberries and used soap to break down the cells. Then they took hooks and spun the liquid around in the vile, to pick up the DNA.
"They use strawberries because they have a lot of DNA in them," said Jonathan Erickson, a biology major at CCGA and a volunteer in Nance's lab at the Expo.
Down the hall, students were using styrofoam heads and Play-Doh of all colors to simulate face transplantation surgery.
Carla Bluhm, an associate professor of psychology at CCGA, taught the students about the history of the first face transplant surgery and then invited the students to create their own face transplant.
"We talk about the donors and what it means to donate your face, what are the ethical issues and the family's feelings about the donation," Bluhm said.
For some students, the presentation is about the story of the first face transplant, Bluhm said, and for others it's a chance for them to explore their own aspirations to work in medicine.
"For some students it's about the scientific history, it's a narrative about survival," Bluhm said. "And then there's others kids in here ... who want to become doctors are thinking about medical fields."
Photo by Bobby Haven of The News
Jane Macon Middle School eighth grade students Shaheim Johnson and Abby Miller join fellow students in learning how to separate out DNA in strawberries on February 17 during a class taught by College of Coastal Georgia genetics professor Holly Nance during the annual Math and Sciences Expo at the college.