[SPOKANE, Wash.] “Everyone, raise your toothpick. You’re going to take that toothpick, and you’re going to get some blood and sprinkle it in the oval. Who has questions?”
The room bursts into students talking on top of each other. Many take the brown toothpick sliver and poke their fingers, squeezing a dome of red blood. They then swirl the blood into solution on a clear tray in three sections, labeled “A,” “B” and “RH.”
“Does anyone see any clumping? Those are red blood cells agglutinating and reacting. If that oval is clumping, then you have that blood type,” said Janae Carrothers, the director of MESA at Spokane Falls Community College.
The college’s Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program hosted the Spokane Tribe of Indians Education last Monday and Wednesday for a Summer Education Program to study STEM subjects. Around 43 students ages 15-16 years old from Eastern Washington school districts, including Wellpinit and Reardan-Edwall, attended the program. The five-hour session featured cell histology, a tour of the SFCC campus and cadaver lab, a student panel and the blood analysis.
“The blood tests were my favorite part. It was fun to see what my blood type was,” said 11th grader Shawnee McCrea, 16. “And the prick didn’t hurt at all. It was just a tiny, tiny poke.”
Aly Peone, the education program manager for the Spokane Tribe of Indians, coordinated the program with Science Speaks Spokane, an organization of scientists and educators dedicated to understanding and critical thinking in STEM subjects. Carrothers is also a director at Science Speaks Spokane.
“We’re trying to get our students more STEM programs to figure out their interests – like whether it’s hands-on learning or research – so they can gravitate toward that,” Peone said.
SFCC is one of 12 community colleges in Washington to receive a MESA grant to host programming and support students studying STEM with a focus on adding diversity and inclusion for students identifying as female, African American, Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan, Native American or Indigenous.
Carrothers has been collaborating with local students and tribes to increase experience with STEM learning and higher education. She will be visiting the Spokane Tribe Education Program in Wellpinit for similar goals of STEM education and literacy.
10th grade student Isabella Abrahamson, 15, is interested in science research. She found the cadaver lab to be the most interesting part of the program.
“It was cool,” she said. “It was fascinating seeing everything that’s in you, like the muscles. Actually seeing them and not fake ones or pictures.”
This was the inaugural visit from the Spokane Tribe of Indians for the Summer Education Program on SFCC’s campus. Peone plans to continue the program every year. The hope is that it will open new doors to different subjects.
To see the program, KHQ News covered it for their STEM segment.
CCS provides education and services in a six-county region of Eastern Washington, operates Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College and is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Childhood Education in the region. Each year, nearly 30,000 people – from infants to senior citizens – are provided educational services by CCS.