Keeona Lawrence, a Fort Valley State University lab assistant, guides Thomson Middle School seventh grade students Essence Hunter (middle) and Zoe Gennaria (right) during a hands-on lab experiment Nov. 21 for Youth Campus Visit Day in the Alva Tabor Building.
To increase minority representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Fort Valley State University is taking action by interacting with students before they enter high school.
On Nov. 21, 70 honor students from Thomson Middle School in Centerville visited and toured FVSU's campus. Dr. Sarwan Dhir, a FVSU professor of plant biotechnology, said exposing youths to STEM disciplines and careers early is more important than ever. "The demand for STEM education is increasing both at the federal and local levels, as the U.S. competes to reassert its position as a global leader in the science and technology fields," Dhir said.
During their visit, Dhir spoke to the students sharing information about biotechnology and the opportunities available through FVSU's plant biotechnology option. Students also participated in a hands-on lab experience where they had a chance to identify DNA and plant tissue cultures.
"Cloning was so cool," said Essence Hunter, a seventh- grade Thomson Middle School student. She said the hands-on portions of the tour were exciting.
Trevor Hudlie, an eighth- grade Thomson Middle School said he had an enjoyable learning experience on the campus.
"It was fun to learn how to extract DNA in plants to make antibiotics," Hudlie said.
Tonja Simmons, assistant principal for Thomson Middle School, accompanied the students on the tour. She said this tour is important for her students because this is an age where they can learn possibilities and start making up their minds about careers and possibly FVSU.
"Fort Valley does have a lot to offer and I hope the students develop an interest in the potentials available to them here," said Simmons who also serves as president of FVSU's Warner Robins Alumni Chapter.
In addition to the hands on labs experiments, students also listened to lectures from university officials who shared information about FVSU's University Today Scholar's Program, the Upward Bound Program, the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program (CDEP), the Fine Arts and Media Experience (FAME) Camp and the Educational Talent Search Program.
The visit ended with a tour of Fort Valley State University's Dairy Technology Center where students sampled goat milk ice cream.