Students see STEM careers through PAL

Published 10:42 pm Monday, December 11, 2017


WASHINGTON — What does an engineer for NASA actually do? Middle school students from Beaufort County Schools and Unity Christian Academy sat in on presentations from science, technology, engineering and math professionals to help them plot a career trajectory as they enter high school. STEM Day is a project of the Beaufort County Police Activities League (PAL) held on the campus of Beaufort County Community College.

Over 250 students participated as they went from station to station around Building 12, the nursing school, on the BCCC campus. Presenters included NASA, East Carolina University’s School of Nursing and School of Engineering, Beaufort County Community College, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, N.C. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division and DSM.

Students listened as Fashikie Smith, BCCC medical laboratory technology instructor, explained platelets in the blood.

“When you have a scab, that is an accumulation of platelets that have formed to stop your bleeding,” she explained. Medical lab technologists work with bodily fluids to access patient health and diagnose pathologies such as diabetes and bacterial infections.

Melissa Peoples, BCCC nursing instructor, showed students the patient simulators in the nursing labs. Instructors can program these robots to simulate different scenarios for students. They can blink, cry, bleed, breathe, and even die. The robots respond to protocols and treatments performed by nursing students.

Engaging activities such as these can help younger students get excited about engineering airplanes or designing fibers for clothing. They often show students the behind-the-scenes careers that they would otherwise never know about such as product design, medical testing, chemistry and aeronautics research.

The presentation can help students engage with and excel in classes with which they may otherwise struggle. When students look at a jumble of symbols in a textbook and ask themselves, “When am I going to ever need this?”, they can think about the ways they can use that to design more efficient airplanes or save the lives of sick patients.