July 25, 2018

STEM Academy Introduces Students to Possible Future


July 12, 2018 | One patient has bruises and cuts that need stitches, another needs an exercise regime and another has a clogged artery.

These real-world situations that health care professionals face every day were the crux of the Junior STEM Academy at UAMS. The two-week program, hosted by the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs, immersed students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics in health and other sciences.

Each day, the students became a different doctor.

One day, they were cardiologists treating a patient with a clogged artery; the next they were geneticists observing the difference between genotype and phenotype and learning the different blood types and how those blood types are donated; then, they were primary care physicians treating cuts and abrasions; and they were pulmonologists monitoring oxygen and carbon dioxide levels during workouts and developing exercise regimens based on their data.

“We wanted this program to provide a working knowledge of science to students, but also expose them to STEM opportunities,” said Amber Booth, senior diversity specialist in the Center for Diversity Affairs, and program developer. “This is not so much for the kids who already know about STEM careers, but to pique interest levels in other kids and feed the STEM pipeline.”

The tracks were split into two age groups, kindergarten through third grade and fourth grade through sixth grade. Each day brought hands-on activities to drive learning and understanding.

About 120 students attended from three states including Ohio.

A few were invited to tag along with UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, and Billy Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, at a check presentation with Bank of America on June 19. Bank of America donated $24,000 to UAMS, including $20,500 reserved for the Center for Diversity Affairs’ summer programs like Junior STEM Academy.

Booth said the program also received tremendous support from parents, local businesses like Larry’s Pizza and Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches and UAMS employees who donated lunches, supplies and money, and UAMS Nutrition Services.

“The community has been incredibly supportive of this undertaking and we appreciate them so much,” said Booth. “They help keep this program going.”