St. Jude scientists aid middle schoolers with science project

St. Jude scientists aid middle schoolers with science project

OLIVE BRANCH, MS (WMC) - Students at Lewisburg Elementary in Olive Branch got some first-rate help with their science project. The students teamed up with St. Jude scientists during their first science class dissection.

According to teacher Holly Engberg, a $500 gr ant made it possible. Fifth grade students wore gowns and were hard at work with surgical gear in the name of science. This year was something special. Engberg said for the first time students were given the choice on which animals they wanted to learn more about.

"Kind of like excited all night, but like right before I got here, I was kind of nervous," fifth-grader Cooper Rye said.

The winning specimens included the traditional frog but also squids, pig hearts, and sheep brains. A cardiologist, wildlife biologist, and a scientist from St. Jude guided students through the dissection and answered their questions.

"Conversing with those professionals allows them to feel more comfortable, allows them to ask questions, and may just light that spark for a possible career in the future," Engberg said.

The St. Jude doctors said speaking with an audience filled with students just getting started in the field was a very different experience.

"Studying ever so many years, you get a lot of interesting facts that you want to share that with people, so it's nice to have an audience that wants to hear that," said Kristen Thomas, St. Jude post doctoral research associate.

Rye said St. Jude was one of the reasons he was up all night excited to get to work. His sister was treated there when they found out she had a brain tumor in 2015.

"It's like, 'Hey maybe I want to be one of those people to help other people that has brain tumors," Rye said.

Teachers said they're already seeing how the fun hands-on experience is helping students hold on to what they learned, even now that the gloves are off.

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