Kids get a peek into cell science at Stanislaus State

naustin@modbee.comSeptember 24, 2013 

    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin

— Middle and high school students got an introduction to the “Secret Lives of Cells,” peering into pond water and making models as part of a monthly science program at California State University, Stanislaus.

“There are 100 trillion cells in the human body and 10 times that many microorganisms living in and on us. You’re kind of a walking petri dish,” said Department of Biological Sciences Chair Mark Grobner in introducing the Science Saturday topic.

Biology majors pitched in as assistants for the day, which included peering through microscopes, learning plant and animal cell structures and extracting DNA.

Starr Charles, a sixth-grader at Medeiros Elementary, said she learns a lot at the monthly programs. The last one, on yogurt, was eye-opening, Starr said. “It was nasty when we made it,” she said, but interesting.

Starr always has been science-centered, said her mother, Raichelle Grays. “It’s one of the things she loves, and I’m trying to foster that.”

That’s the goal for the programs, said Grobner. “It’s to get kids excited about science,” he said.

Science Saturdays grew out of a science day two years ago, at which 2,500 visitors poured onto campus. As a biology club officer, Jesus Garcia was part of that original day put on by all the science clubs on campus. Now about to graduate with a degree in biology, Garcia still volunteers with the monthly program he helped found by securing grant funding.

“We wanted to find a way to not just do it one day a year,” Garcia said. “Hopefully it will be something that lasts for a long time.”

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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