STEAM a success at UNMC

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | June 22, 2018

Image with caption: From left, program participants Gianna Samuel, 14, Moriah Madison, 17, Olivia Brown, 12, Corie McCowin, 15, Autumn Hurst, 14, and Lauren Burris, 14.

From left, program participants Gianna Samuel, 14, Moriah Madison, 17, Olivia Brown, 12, Corie McCowin, 15, Autumn Hurst, 14, and Lauren Burris, 14.

The minute Tanya Custer, assistant professor of distance education in the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions, turned on the anatomage virtual dissection table, the teenage visitors in the room lit up.

picture disc.
Olivia Brown, 12, listens to infant heart sounds during a tour of the College of Nursing Simulation Center.
"Oh wow, look at that."

"That's so cool!"

Eleven youths, ranging in age from 13 to 17, listened intently as Dr. Custer described the images from the anatomage table appearing on the two large screens behind her.

"This is an image of a woman who had an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus). You can see the vertebra, arm and leg bones," Dr. Custer said.

"That's crazy," a student said as she stared at the screen.

Along with a demonstration of the anatomage table, the youths participated in a campus tour and other hands-on activities in the simulation center in the UNMC College of Nursing Center for Nursing Science on June 6 and 7.

The two-day event was part of the Whitney Young Junior S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, mathematics) Academy through the Urban League of Nebraska.

The June visit is part of a collaboration between the Urban League of Nebraska and the UNMC Office of Community Engagement.

"The visit to UNMC is one of the favorite activities among the girls," said LaTina Rencher, a community coach program specialist with the Urban League.

The program, aimed at girls, is part of a concerted effort to expose the youths to S.T.E.A.M. fields and to women of color who work in those fields.

"When they see women who look like them in these high-level roles, they get excited and think, 'Oh I can do that too,'" Rencher said.

"It's been an amazing experience," said Lauren Burris, 14. "I was never very comfortable with science, but now I feel like I learned a lot this week."

That's exactly why UNMC participates in community engagement activities like this, said Heidi Keeler, Ph.D., interim director of the UNMC Office of Community Engagement.

"One tangible step we can make to facilitate STEM success among young women is to change the perception of what a scientist or mathematician looks like, so that young girls can picture themselves in these roles," Dr. Keeler said.

"Our office is proud to be a part of this important educational opportunity."

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