6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from Cuba Middle School and 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from Lybrook School got the chance to visit UNM this fall to see how some the concepts they are learning in science class are applied at the college and professional level.
Cuba 6th grade students visited the lab of Dr. Horton Newsom, a professor in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. Dr. Newsom and his students study Mars by building rovers with attached cameras and sensors. Students had a lot of questions for Dr. Newsom, who talked to the students about careers in science and was able to dispel some myths of science fiction movies. Dr. Newsom told the students that people who work as scientists are not geniuses, but instead, are normal people who work hard. He said that of all his friends and coworkers who work as scientists, every single one can tell a story about how they needed special tutoring to get through a hard class, or how they failed a class and had to take it again. Scientific thinking, like a sport or musical instrument, is a skill that you work on in order to continually improve.
Cuba 7th grade students visited the medical campus of UNM where they interacted with the same computer-controlled mannequins that train medical students how to interact with patients. Students enjoyed using stethoscopes to hear the mannequins’ heartbeats and breathing as well as trying to diagnose and treat the mannequins based on their symptoms. One group had to shock their mannequin to reset its heartbeat back to normal.
Cuba 8th grade students and all Lybrook students visited the Civil Engineering Department. They learned about different types of jobs in engineering and specifically in water resource management. All life on Earth is dependent on water, so jobs conserving and cleaning that water are super for our communities and our health! The middle school students used a model similar to an ant farm that showed the flow of water from the surface of the earth into groundwater storage areas called aquifers. The students put in food dye to represent pollution and saw how it spread throughout the model. Students also used an Augmented Reality Sandbox to represent a topographic map. A projector displayed colors representing different elevations onto the sand and when students moved the sand they could create mountains or rivers. When a student held their hand between the projector and the sand, it acted as a “raincloud” and the projector would shower blue rain onto the model which then flowed into the low points of the sandbox.
Lybrook students also visited the Museum of Southwestern Biology where they got to view specimens of plants, parasites, and mammals. This museum allows scientists to study different species of plants and animals. Students enjoyed taking ‘selfies’ with the specimens.
During lunch, college students from the Diné Club of UNM, AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society), and the UNM College Prep Program came to eat lunch with the middle school students. The college students answered any questions the middle school students had about how to apply for college, how to choose what they want to be when they grow up, and what to do in middle and high school to prepare themselves for going to college.