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Veterinary Students Connect K-12 Students and Teachers to the STEM of Veterinary Science

Posted February 28, 2017

by Torri Whitaker

Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy


Teachers play the PEER developed board game
"Adaptation Island" at the VBTA Conference.

Veterinary medical students Katie Crites, Zach Dielmann, and Jessica Haynes accompanied Dr. Larry Johnson, from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), to represent the Partnership for Environmental Education and Rural Health (PEER) program as presenters at the Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy (VBTA) Spring Conference at The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, on Feb. 4, 2017. One of the missions of VBTA is to improve math, science, and health education through professional development opportunities. PEER hosted three sessions featuring its veterinary medical and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) K-12 curriculum.

Johnson presented “Cells in Animals and Plants,” during which teachers examined the differences in plant and animal cell organelles, structure, and function through vivid microscopic images of plant cells and animal cells—including blood, muscle, and epithelium. They also discussed the interaction of cell structure and function.

Crites and Haynes presented “Animal Behavior,” a lesson that demonstrated how traits enhance the ability of a species to survive and distinguish between inherited traits and learned behaviors. Teachers had the opportunity to distinguish between adaptations and mutations and describe how adaptations change over generations through the PEER developed board game “Adaptation Island.”

Deilmann presented “Healthy Pet, Healthy You–Physical Exams,” during which teachers were shown the application of the scientific method in the real world through physical exams. Teachers stepped into the role of doctors to understand the relationship between the veterinarian’s use of medical history (gathering information), diagnosing patients, and scientific processes standards (making observations and inferences, collecting data, forming hypotheses, and drawing conclusions).

Providing meaningful connections between the science standards required in classrooms and real-world science is essential in engaging and motivating students to pursue science careers. Teachers who participated in the PEER sessions will now have additional resources in their toolkits to provide these connections.

Girl Scout STEMfest

Veterinary medical students Jade Haberman and Danielle Garnier hosted a PEER booth at the Girl Scout STEMfest on Feb. 4, 2017. Haberman and Garnier spoke with elementary- to high school-aged girls about anatomy, including the similarities and differences in anatomical structure and function between animals and humans. Veterinary students were able to further enhance their knowledge of anatomy in a fun and beneficial way through their interactions with the Girl Scouts. Events like this allow CVM students to give back to the community while inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.


For more information about the PEER program, visit

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