When the college students are away, K-12 students come to play

Kids with worms

It’s been a little quieter since our health sciences students left town last month for summer break.

In their place, however, are students of a younger age.

With more classrooms available, summertime means K-12 students visit campus for various reasons.

Last month, WSU Spokane was the site of the Spokane STEMposium, a one-day conference-like event where regional middle and high school students presented research projects on a number of STEM topics. Some students competed for scholarships, and 12 students received scholarships. Some students came from as far away as Missoula, Montana.

Among the research presented was a look at how energy shots affect the human heart, ACL injuries in female athletes and much more.

The top winner was Micaela Whigham of Rogers High School in Spokane. Her research – Gene Knockouts and Rhodoquinone Biosynthesis in the Bacteria Rhodospirillum Rubrum – netted her a scholarship prize of $1,000. Whigham will continue her studies next year at Gonzaga University.

You can see a list of all STEMposium winners here.

We also had elementary students from the area come to campus to learn about our health sciences subjects. Our Speech and Hearing Sciences program showed the students how brain injuries can impact your speech, and used a watermelon with and without a bike helmet as an example (an exercise we like to call “Protecting your melon”).

Our Nutrition and Exercise Physiology program used vials of sugar to show how much sugar is in soft drinks, syrup and more.

The College of Nursing taught the youngsters about germs and why they should wash their hands.

The College of Pharmacy gave the students a brief chemistry lesson and then they made rubber worms with a five percent solution of calcium chloride and two percent solution of Sodium Alginate solution (with food coloring thrown in, too). 


This student got creative with his worm:


In the last few weeks, 250 students have visited our campus to learn about our health sciences programs. Visiting students ranged from first graders to seniors in high school. The STEMposium attracted more than 200 students, and 120 more will be here next week.

Even without our health sciences students on campus, there is still plenty of buzz on the sidewalks and in the hallways.