Young Women In Bio - San Francisco Bay Area has partnered with College Track - Oakland to bring hands-on STEM experiences to young women. On September 4, 2018, Young Women In Bio hosted the first of four events on-site at the Oakland offices. The focus of this first program was developmental biology with nine freshman girls in attendance.
The event began with an overview of developmental biology by Dr. Tanvi Sinha who is a Cell and Developmental Biologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Sinha discussed the stages of embryonic development, how long it takes in humans vs. animals, and what the stages look like.
After the lesson, YWIB volunteers - Jenn Kim, Leah Makley and Jennifer Lewis - assisted the students with a challenging matching activity where various stages of embryonic development in different species of animals were given and the students had to identify the animal and stage.
The students discovered that a majority of the species looked similar which taught them why researchers use small species, such as mice, to study to human development. The students and volunteers also discussed the ethical considerations that researchers consider when using embryos for their work. Dr. Sinha then brought several mice embryos at mid-gestation stages for the students to observe. Many of the students were excited to see an actual embryo!
The second portion of the program was a hands-on activity with chick embryos. Dr. Sinha provided fertilized chick eggs at various developmental stages to allow the students to explore and identify the process of embryonic development on their own. The YWIB volunteers and students discussed that it takes 21 days for a chick to develop fully and that there is a difference between store-bought eggs and fertilized eggs used for research.
Once each of the “lab” stations were ready with gloves, beakers, magnifying glasses and 2-3 eggs, the students followed Dr. Sinha in learning how to crack and open the chick egg. From there they were able to see embryos from stages 3 to 5 days since fertilization. The students were amazed to see the heartbeats and begin to identify the formation of the chick. One student said that her favorite part of the event was “opening the eggs, seeing the heartbeat, and becoming a mother - tear.”
After all the eggs were opened and analyzed, the students had a wrap-up with Dr. Sinha and the YWIB volunteers where they asked Dr. Sinha more about her education and career and share their favorite parts of the day.
The students provided feedback from the event and overwhelmingly reported that they enjoyed cracking the eggs and loved the surprise of what they would discover. They also shared that having a hands-on activity created a fun and informative experience.
YWIB - San Francisco Bay Area is thankful to College Track - Oakland for highlighting the importance of STEM for young girls by carving out a space for engagement in their curriculum and offices. This initial event left the students wanting to learn more and the volunteers are excited to build off this success!
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