Above: Middle school students make models of neurons at the Colorado State University Todos Santos Center during the first day of the biomedical sciences anatomy and physiology outreach week.
“¿Cómo movemos nuestros cuerpos?”
CSU student Hannah Haberecht asked a group of Mexican middle school students, “How do we move our bodies?” as she engaged them in a discussion about how muscles work. Two volunteers then came forward to try out the muscle stimulator machine she had set up, which reads an electrical signal traveling from one person and stimulates nerves in their partner, causing their hand to jerk involuntarily.
“They absolutely loved it,” Haberecht said. Over 400 K-12 students came by her booth that May day as part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences’ first anatomy and physiology outreach event at the Colorado State University Todos Santos Center. “All of the students were engaged and interested in the material—it was a lot of fun.”
Haberecht, a biomedical sciences junior, traveled to Todos Santos, Mexico, with a group that included three graduate students, five undergraduate students, physiology instructor Kayla Brown, and C.W. Miller, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences who also serves as associate department head and director of its undergraduate program.
Inspiring youth to get excited about science and health
CSU’s Department of Biomedical Sciences routinely introduces youth to its renowned anatomy and physiology instruction through interactive K-12 community events staffed by faculty and student volunteers. These programs showcase a variety of learning stations that inspire young people to get excited about science and health.
This was the department’s first trip to Todos Santos, with the goal of expanding the scope of its outreach program while providing CSU biomedical sciences students with international outreach experience.
The CSU students presented material in Spanish at several activity stations that included walking the path food takes as it travels through the digestive system, mimicking how the heart pumps blood, building a neuron, demonstrating how the lungs work, exploring muscle contraction, testing reflexes, equilibrium, reaction times, and visual perception, and more.
They collaborated with a group of college students from Mexico’s National Pedagogic University, who helped them translate their presentation and answer questions from the local K-12 students.
“It was an amazing and unforgettable experience for every individual involved, and it will be exciting to see how this project can grow in the future,” Brown said.
By the end of the week, the group had interacted with nearly 900 people through a series of open houses and school visits.
“The chance to provide physiology outreach to local Spanish-speaking students with talented biomedical sciences students and my highly organized and positive colleague Kayla Brown was the highlight of my year,” Miller said. “And seeing the interactions between our students and the enthusiastic local children, as well as the talented students from the National Pedagogic University, was very uplifting.”
Aines Castro Prieto, director of the CSU Todos Santos Center, congratulated the group for their “excellent work and passion” and hopes to see the outreach event happen again next year.
The biomedical sciences students agreed that the trip was one of the best experiences of their lives.
“I got so much out of it,” Haberecht said. “Not only was it meaningful and took me out of my comfort zone, it was my first time traveling to a non-English speaking country and seeing a significantly different culture. Being able to form such strong connections with everyone we worked with, despite the language barrier, was really powerful.”