Dr. Todd Rimkus loves to see children get excited about science. So when 40 students from Fort Belvoir Elementary School recently visited his lab at Marymount University, he was happy to introduce them to a few of his friends, including a large black snake and a 25-pound snapping turtle.
It was really nice to see their faces light up, said Rimkus, chair of MUs Department of Biology and Physical Sciences. You love to see that spark and hope that you can add to it. I hope that it helps them get into biology and maybe someday become a doctor, nurse or physical therapist.
Empowering young girls and encouraging them to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics was the goal when the third-through-six graders from Fairfax County were on campus April 6 to participate in ENLIST II: Empowering Leaders in STEM. It was part of an ongoing program to help the young women build confidence, meet successful mentors and learn marketable skills to prepare them for STEM and business fields.
Dr. Usha Rajdev, an MU professor of education, and her students have partnered with Fort Belvoir Elementary School for the past six years. As part of that relationship, MU students shadow Fort Belvoir teachers and conduct hands-on after school activities such as designing and building pop rockets using film canisters and alka seltzer or drawing the cell structures of leaves. Theyve even talked via radio with an astronaut on the International Space Station.
During ENLIST II, the students not only spent time with Rimkus but also learned about 3D printing from Dr. Eric Bubar, assistant professor of biology and physical science, and fingerprinting from Dr. Amanda Farrell, assistant professor of social and criminal justice. They also visited the library and had lunch with the professors, which gave them the opportunity to ask questions about STEM careers.
Seven MU undergraduates training to be teachers, along with student volunteers from the criminal justice program, worked with the children.
Visiting campus made it so real for the Fort Belvoir students, who were were able to see that their mentors were also students, said Rajdev. They were so excited!
Rajdev noted that none of this would be possible without a $10,000 grant the program received for the second year from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginias Business Womens Giving Circle.
This was a day to remember, especially when the children got up and said how grateful they were for opportunity, Rajdev said. We sent them back very hyper on the buses!
Dr. Todd Rimkus, chair of Marymount Universitys Department of Biology and Physical Sciences, shows students from Fort Belvoir Elementary School a large snake in his lab on campus.
Dr. Eric Bubar, assistant professor of biology and physical science, talks with students as part of ENLIST II: Empowering Leaders in STEM on Marymount Universitys campus April 6.
Dr. Amanda Farrell, assistant professor of social and criminal justice, explains the differences between what the students see on television shows versus the reality of criminal investigations.
Two students search for fingerprints on a cup.
A Marymount student demonstrates fingerprinting to a girl from Fort Belvoir.