The typical Des Moines University student holds at least a bachelor’s degree, but on Saturday, March 28, the halls of our graduate health sciences school were abuzz with pint-sized potential podiatrists, physical therapists, pharmacists and more.
Girls in Science Day, an annual event coordinated through DMU Student Services and Community Relations, admitted more than 200 girls from grades 4-7 for a free morning highlighting ideas and opportunities in health sciences. Most come from Des Moines Public Schools, with an emphasis on serving girls who might not have access to STEM programming outside the classroom.
DMU students, faculty and community partners engage participants in a number of different stations. In the surgery lab, girls experience the intense process of scrubbing into a sterile unit. At another station, they learned lifesaving hands-only CPR and choking rescue techniques. Podiatric students taught suturing on pig feet and gave younger girls the chance to try casting a partner’s feet. Physical therapy, osteopathic manual medicine, microbiology, anatomy and other topics were also covered.
“The girls were excited about what they were experiencing and asked great questions,” says Amy Main, M.P.H. ’22, who served as a group leader. “I think that should any of these Girls In Science participants find themselves at a podiatrists office or sick with a bacterial disease, they will be better able to relate to the situation and take on more of a proactive role in their own health care. I think that is a wonderful goal for me to remember as a future health care provider.”
New, popular stations this year were a “blender bike” and nutrition activities hosted by UnitedHealthcare Community Plan Outreach and a station hosted by students in the Drake University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences.
“I loved this experience to educate the ladies on the profession of pharmacy,” said Michelle Mages, a Drake University student. “I have learned a lot about advocating for my profession, but haven’t really thought about advocating to future generations, so that was a cool thought today. Also, it is always great to motivate young women to be tomorrow’s leaders.”
The event owes success to more than 140 DMU volunteers who staffed stations and served as group leaders.
Participating girls reported what they learned, including:
“How to use an AED.” — Hillary, Grade 7
“That root beer has yeast, and that bones move when muscles pull on joints.” — Lucy, Grade 4
“Science is more fun than I thought, and way more stuff!” — Aaralyn, Grade 4
“That the skull has more than one bone.” — Kennedy, Grade 4