UA Bio5 internship program engages kids in science

July 21, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: Dale Quinn, Arizona Daily Star] — Elle Stuart had no idea that this summer she’d glean how a certain mutation affects a small flowering plant’s ability to produce seeds. But during an internship program at the University of Arizona’s Bio5 Research Institute, the 16-year-old Salpointe Catholic High School student learned about that and more.

In the six-week program, Stuart worked with a graduate-student mentor to study how a certain mutation affects seed production in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. After a meticulous process, she learned that the mutation didn’t keep the plant from producing seeds, but it did greatly reduce its ability to make them. “I never thought research would be as interesting as it has been,” said Stuart, who is preparing to enter her junior year. “When you get a good result, it’s really exciting.”

Stuart is one of 25 students from Tucson-area high schools who participated in the KEYS (or K-12 Engaging Youth in Science) research internship program. The interns spent one week learning about lab research procedures and the next several weeks in the lab testing an assigned hypothesis. The experiment topics run the gamut from genetics to environmental toxicants. The students, who had to complete an application process to get in the program, are assigned research based on their interests. The idea is to give the students experience doing laboratory research and get them thinking about a career in the sciences, said Marti Lindsey of the UA College of Pharmacy. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]