Students collaborate with the Health Museum on STEM cells lesson plan

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Health professionals from Houston’s Health Museum visited the Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men and gave 20 ninth-graders a lesson on nutrition and physical fitness. The museum’s STEM Cells Sports Medicine Program exposes students to various disciplines within sports medicine.

During the initial lesson, the students learned about health and body composition before evaluating their own health and fitness levels through a series of tests that compares them to active, healthy athletes. They also learned the benefits of physical activity and a healthy diet.

Two weeks later, the students visited the Health Museum’s DeBakey Cell Lab, an innovative lab space where they donned lab coats and goggles to learn how to extract DNA, examine their own cheek cells, investigate antimicrobials, and participate in other lab experiments.

“I saw the nucleus of my own cheek cell,” said one of the students.

“The DNA was white and stringy, and you could wind it up,” added another.

Three or four students were at each lab station and rotated to another when each experiment was complete. Dr. Gonzalo Perez, bilingual programs lead science educator for the Health Museum, and Dr. Nicole Gray, assistant director of operations, oversaw the lab work. Dr. Perez showed the students how to safely remove their plastic gloves to avoid any contamination.

“The students do some lab work in the classroom,” said their biology teacher, Robert Thomas, “but for them to experience this depth and variety is really worthwhile.”