Middle school students visit labs, tour campus - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Middle school students visit labs, tour campus

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Menomonie (News Release) - Biology professor Michael Pickart manipulated a needle under a microscope Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and injected glow fish DNA into a bead about the same size as a zebra fish embryo.

Pickart, who uses this same technique with actual zebra fish embryos, told a group of DeLong Middle School students to give it a try. One student followed Pickart's instructions and successfully transferred DNA to the bead, demonstrating how simply a zebra fish embryo can be genetically engineered.

"If we can get students on a microscope and help them identify with making a genetically modified organism in five minutes, it brings science a little closer to home," Pickart said.

Pickart's lab in Jarvis Hall Science Wing was one of many stops for groups of eighth-graders as part of DeLong Science Day. About 300 students from the Eau Claire middle school were on campus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"I could teach all of you how to create genetically modified organisms," Pickart said, while explaining to them that he grows fish in an aquarium-like room in the lab and then studies them to help solve human health problems.

"Fish are 70 to 80 percent like us," he said. "That's why we study them."

DeLong students spent about 30 minutes in each of various labs watching and conducting experiments. They also saw how to mold plastic, how to make a turbine, how a respirator works, helped build a computer, cracked a code and learned about carnivorous plants in the Jarvis greenhouse.

Physics professor Alan Scott used a laser beam to calculate a saber saw's number of revolutions per minute – more than 4,000. He also gave them a digital caliper to let them measure and see for themselves that a full soda can – under pressure – is about three-tenths of a millimeter taller than an empty can.

Paige Vasel, 14, recently finished a physics class at DeLong and her brother is studying physics at UW-Eau Claire so she was interested in Scott's presentation. "I like science so far. I was pretty excited when I heard we were coming to campus," she said.

Touger Lor, 14, also said he enjoyed the physics experiments and was looking forward to seeing other labs and touring the campus grounds, library, fieldhouse and seeing a dorm room. "It's pretty big. You might get lost here," he said of the campus.

UW-Stout, Wisconsin's Polytechnic University, hosted about 100 DeLong students 2 1/2 years ago, but this was the first time an entire grade was on campus for a day.

"This is about the time to get kids focused on thinking they should be going to college," said Charles Bomar, a biology professor and campus coordinator of the event.

On Wednesday, April 7, 60 Hudson Middle School girls are expected to be on campus for an event called Adventures for Women in Science.

For more information, contact Bomar at 715-232-2562 or bomarc@uwstout.edu.

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