The BioBE Center hosted its inaugural Microbiome Science Youth Outreach workshop this past Saturday, March 12. The event featured hands-on activities covering microbiology, bioinformatics and architecture led by volunteers from the Green lab and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory. It was attended by 21 middle-school and high-school students and mentors from the Youth Mentoring Program of the Centro Latino Americano (CLA). CLA is a multicultural nonprofit organization in Eugene dedicated to the empowerment of the local Latino community. The Youth Mentoring Program offers one on one mentoring relationships, group mentoring, and facilitates educational and enriching activities for students in Lane County.
The objective of this workshop was to introduce students to indoor microbiome science with the long-term goal of increasing diversity in biology and architecture disciplines. The event was spearheaded by BioBE research assistant Clarisse Betancourt Román, who is also a board member of CLA, and organized in collaboration with postdoctoral scholar Dr. Roxana Hickey. Dr. Jessica Green opened the workshop with an engaging overview of the significance of microbes in our daily lives and highlighted research at the BioBE Center. Workshop activities included observing microbes under the microscope, extracting DNA from strawberries, analyzing DNA sequences to identify bacteria, and manipulating equipment used to test architectural models. In addition to the science and architecture activities, students learned about the college experience from Romario Bautista, a first-generation Latino student at UO, and received information about opportunities in UO’s Summer Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL) program.
We received great feedback from the participants and we look forward to improving and expanding the Microbiome Science Youth Outreach workshop for 2017. We extend a special thanks to Jake Harder, CLA Youth Mentoring Program coordinator, and our volunteers: Ashley Bateman, Max Green, Thiago Gumiere, Serena Lim, Kyla Martichuski, Gwynne Mhuireach, Maria Sarao and Andy Siemens.