By Nicole Villalpando
About 100 middle-schoolers are making their way through a rotation of experiences at the University Teaching Center at the University of Texas campus. There, doctors and UT pre-medical students are teaching them about different parts of the body or different technologies used in medicine.
One group is blowing up a pig lung using an air pump to check how the lungs inflate. Then they look at a diseased lung and see how it doesn’t work as well.
Another group is looking at the different parts of a cow heart.
Campers are looking at a brain of a lamb and discussing why it might be different from ours.
They are practicing how to do a colonoscopy on a model and trying to find the polyps. And one lucky counselor is helping them practice how to do an ultrasound of the heart by being the patient.
This is the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas Health Sciences Summer Camp, which for the past three years has offered a free camp for high-schoolers and middle-schoolers. This year there is a charge, but scholarships are available. The campers were all nominated by their school counselors.
Some of the students were chosen because they think they might want to be a doctor or a nurse. Others were chosen for their interest in science in general.
“We’re not trying to make doctors,” said Dr. Reginald Baptiste, who organizes the camp as the director of pre-health professions medical education at UT Dell Medical School. “We’re just trying to get the students interested” in science, technology, engineering and math.
“Even though it makes you learn, it’s still really cool,” said eighth-grade camper Gabriela Rodriguez. “It’s fun, even though you’re learning. It helps you narrow down what you want to do.”
This year, the school will be offering two camps for high-schoolers and one for middle-schoolers. Students still have to be nominated to attend by their schools, but there also will be a fee to attend.
Throughout the week last year, the kids visited different places on the University of Texas campus and Dell Medical School, including the room where medical students work with cadavers. They also heard a lecture about why diversity is needed in the medical field.
Eighth-grader Kyra Tucker liked getting to meet with surgeons. “Their world is so fascinating,” she said. “I want to do that.”
While some kids might be squeamish to touch an animal organ, these campers spent many days wearing gloves and holding organs in their hands.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted to hear a person’s heart,” she said. “I wanted to see inside a person.”
Camp doesn’t just end in one week. Campers are invited back throughout the school year for other educational programs at the medical school.
Contact Nicole Villalpando at 512-912-5900.
DELL MEDICAL SCHOOL HEALTH SCIENCES SUMMER CAMPS
When: 9 a.m.. to 5 p.m. July 9-13 and July 23-27 for high-schoolers; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 6-10 for middle-schoolers
Where: University of Texas campus
To apply: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about applying. Contact your middle school or high school counselor to recommend you to the program.