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STEM Career Day at Bester Elementary helps to get students college-ready

April 19, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Kindergartners at Bester Elementary School saw many things Friday at career day, including a 6-foot tractor tire. From left, Tracy Keith, Tyler Williams, Angel Mata-Shipp, Kaydance Plummer, Chrystopher Lozano-Osses, and Tameyah Mitchell.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

A image from a microscope was projected onto the screen in a classroom at Bester Elementary School on Friday afternoon, showing a translucent worm slithering into view.

The response it elicited from the students was not unexpected.

“Eeyoou!” they said in unison.

“I love my job,” said Kristen A. Lennon, the Biotech Microscopy Outreach Coordinator at Hagerstown Community College. She explained to the students it was a vinegar eel, though they are filtered out of the cider vinegar their parents buy at the store.

Lennon also showed them brine shrimp — “sea monkeys” to anyone who ordered them from a comic book advertisement — and the beating heart of a snail inside its egg.

Impressed by the microscopic menagerie, fifth-grader Tyra Vega said she might want to be a microbiologist.

Friday was the first STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Career Day at Bester, with more than two dozen professionals from as many professions took time to explain what they do, field some interesting questions, and inform students how the sciences play a role in their jobs.

“I’m not sure sea horses are really horses,” Dr. Moira Nusbaum of PenMar Equine said in answer to a question. She is a horse veterinarian.

“No, I don’t work on hippos and elephants. Those people are really brave,” Nusbaum said in answer to student’s question.

Nusbaum did show students a sonogram of an unborn colt and an X-ray of a horse’s broken leg and told them of the years of schooling required to become a veterinarian.

Keith Siburt works for the company that is building the new Bester Elementary behind the existing school.

“What happens if your building falls apart?” one girl asked.

“It won’t happen,” Siburt replied. He should know, having worked on more than 70 school construction projects and more than 30 dams.

A chef, a firefighter, an astronomer, a nurse, engineers, police officers, a sports doctor and a college professor were among the professionals who spoke with the students.

“We’re trying to get all of our students college-ready,” said fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Buhrman. “Hopefully, something like this will get them excited and give them something to latch onto” as they begin to consider careers, she said.

Third-grader Alexus Smetzer was impressed listening to an engineer.

“He said he worked for the Navy and worked on submarines ... and aircraft and something called a destroyer,” Alexus said.

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