Maryland foundation brings mobile STEM lab to Texas

Maryland foundation brings mobile STEM lab to Texas

The MdBio Foundation recently brought a hi-tech mobile laboratory to several Southeast Texas schools, teaching hurricane-impacted students about wildlife forensics, virtual reality and other STEM-related subjects by providing them with hands-on experience.

As part of MdBio’s “Learning Undefeated” program, MdBio Education Outreach Coordinator Desurae Matthews and Education Outreach Fellow Zahra Shihabuddin visited local campuses hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In December 2018, the MdBio crew visited students enrolled in the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School in Port Arthur and middle school students currently attending classes at the Vidor High School campus.

High school students got to learn about gel electrophoresis and later were instructed in the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Students strapped on VR goggles and took off on a trip to Mars. They looked up, down and all around, many grasping at 3-D images appearing within their view.

Matthews taught Vidor Middle School fifth graders onboard the lab during their fourth period science class how to measure and mix blue, red and yellow solutions to create a rainbow of colors.

“It was fun,” said student Ronny Bauer following the experiment. “We mixed colors. We learned about a micropipette and figured out how it works.”

“I really like science because if we didn’t have science we wouldn’t be where we are today,” student Logan Boyd remarked.

Science teacher Leah Carter said she was pleased to have MdBio at the school to encourage students’ interest in STEM.

“They are learning about the light spectrum and light energy, so this goes along with what they are being taught in class,” Carter observed. “The micropipette lesson teaches them about measuring in a lab. It’s a great idea.”

In part, the visit was made possible by grants fron The Rebuild Texas Fund, a collaborative project of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Foundation that was established to support the rebuilding efforts in communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey, supports MdBio’s efforts, awarding the foundation with a $265,751 grant in August 2017. With this grant, MdBio Foundation has raised more than $500,000 since October 2017, when it launched its “Learning Undefeated” initiative designed to provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education on its mobile laboratory to schools in southeast Texas that were damaged by the hurricane.

Read the full story about the collaboration in the upcoming edition of Vital Signs, coming soon!