Blog | HemaCare

STEM Outreach - HemaCare Style

Mar 12, 2019 10:12:00 AM / by Nancy Andon, MSc

Elementary school children attending a community “STEM Night” learn what it means to be a human blood cell. Image Credit: HemaCareHemaCare is committed to supporting the next generation of science and technology professionals through community outreach and educational programs. In a world that is increasingly reliant on science and technology, STEM education provides students with the necessary skill sets to enter the modern workforce. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiative is based on the premise that these fields should be taught using an integrative approach that focuses on real-world applications, rather than teaching each field in isolation. The hope is to instill in our young people not just the skills of their chosen field, but a more critical way of thinking, understanding, and exploring the world.

The STEM initiative has its roots in an early 1990’s summer program called the STEM Institute, which helped educate talented but under-represented students in the Washington, DC area. The National Science Foundation (NSF) later adopted the acronym as part of an education collaborative focused on improving American competitiveness in the science and technology fields. STEM policies were used to address a perceived lack of candidates with the educational background necessary to support the growing need for high-tech jobs.

There is now a strong educational initiative to engage the interest of K-12 students in exploring the STEM disciplines. Many technology-based companies, including HemaCare, have developed their own outreach programs to encourage these young students. The idea is to provide real-world examples of what a career in the STEM field looks like, while presenting science in a fun, engaging way that really fires up young imaginations.

Just recently, one of our employees enjoyed the opportunity to bring HemaCare’s brand of science to a children’s Science Fair at a local elementary school. HemaCare’s table featured an interactive exhibit on “What’s in Our Blood”. Attendees got to try out life as either a red or white blood cell (or both!), even crawling through a short tunnel disguised as an “artery” to collect giant plush versions of various microbes. They learned the role different types of blood cells play in the body and got to wear “hemoglobin necklaces” with 4 O2 molecules attached for the red blood cells to carry through the “artery” simulating the oxygen-carrying-cells duty in the body. Our representative was enthusiastic about how much the kids enjoyed her booth, which was one of the most popular at the fair.

“HemaCare was one of the most popular booths, with at least 100 kids visiting and asking questions. The kids had fun, and their parents told me how impressed they were with the interactive “artery” tube and about how much their children had learned. I think this kind of community outreach is important for creating a positive image of science and technology.“
Marjorie Smithhisler (Senior Business Development Executive, East Region)

Today, the STEM initiative has been widely adopted into U.S. educational policy. The NSF has expanded their definition of STEM to include a broad range of science and engineering fields. They also offer scholarship programs, grants and fellowships to support the success of young students in these fields. At HemaCare, we recognize the importance of positive community outreach at all levels from early education to our  donor outreach program—after all, it’s the donors among us who provide the critical raw material that make advanced therapies possible. HemaCare strives to actively promote science education through community involvement thus inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals as they endeavor to discover future life-changing therapies.

Nancy Andon, MSc

Written by Nancy Andon, MSc

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