PEER Programs Work to Spark STEM Interest in Area Youth
Posted June 21, 2017
CVM graduate student Anna Blick teaches livestock anatomy to
freshmen at Bryan Collegiate High School.
Area students received lessons on veterinary medicine and birds
during two recent PEER presentations.
On May 22, PEER Fellows Lynanne Graf, Caitlin Spillers, and Anna
Blick gave more than 90 Bryan Collegiate High School freshmen a
peek into potential careers for veterinarians and the veterinary
The BCHS students examined how veterinarians can have
multi-faceted career paths, including working in the military,
research, private practice, or academia, as well as zoo and exotic
medicine, which was of particular interest to the BCHS students;
during the conversation, one student mentioned that he would love
to have an ambulance service for pets after discovering that not
all vets work in a clinic.
Students at the “Early College High School” also were thoroughly
engaged in a hands-on experience with plastinated anatomy specimens
during an “Anatomy of Livestock” presentation and learned from
third-year veterinary student Spillers about her experiences of
both success and defeat, while being encouraged to keep striving
for their dreams, even when they’ve gotten off course, during “How
I Got into Vet School.”
Veterinary posters and college prep pamphlets provided by PEER
were quickly procured by students attending all of the
“Overall, I think the students enjoyed the presentations and
were very engaged and asked really in-depth questions,” said Graf,
a veterinary student. “Speaking with these kids revealed their
passion and love for animals. It was very heartwarming to
Blick, a graduate student, agreed that the students weren’t the
only ones inspired that day.
“The opportunity to discuss science with a new audience is an
exciting challenge, and a great learning experience,” she said. “I
was impressed and very inspired by the students’ interests and
ability to engage in the conversation.”
Girl Scouts at Camp Howdy use forceps as a "beak" to collect
various food items during a hands-on PEER exercise.
On June 7, PEER Fellows Jessica Haynes, Graf, and Blick explored
with more than 200 Girl Scouts of Central Texas how the variation
in food availability dictated the development of different types of
bird beaks (natural selection) and how the variation in bird beaks
allows different diets for different species today.
The presentation, held at Camp Howdy in Bryan, illustrated the
concept by offering a variety of “beaks”— made of toothpicks,
scissors, plastic spoons, binder clips, and forceps—along with a
variety of “foods”—such as marshmallows, rubber bands, and rice—for
the girl scouts, who were challenged to “eat” the different types
of food by picking up each food type with the various “beaks;” the
scouts were then asked to determine which “beak” worked best with
The girls received a badge for participating in this activity,
and the PEER Fellows experienced summer camp nostalgia as they
lived vicariously through the Girl Scouts.
“I never got the opportunity to join girl scouts; however,
seeing how excited the kids were at the camp and how willing they
were to learn was fantastic! The Girl Scouts even got to practice
sharing and team building since we set it up as a competition
against other units,” said Haynes, a third-year veterinary
Camp Howdy is a primitive camp that provides girls in
kindergarten through sixth grades the opportunity to explore and
appreciate life events in the great outdoors.
Throughout the summer, PEER will continue to participate and
host outreach activities.
Veterinary students looking to enhance their public-speaking and
leadership skills, while serving the community and working to
inspire youth by revealing the wonders of STEM, can apply online
for the PEER program here.
Lynanne Graf, Torri Whitaker, and Jessica Haynes contributed to
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