BioBus: Science laboratory on wheels

August 5, 2011 3:03:51 PM PDT
Some students in public schools may never see a fully equipped science lab, or have the good luck to work in a real medical setting. The Jewish Home Lifecare of Manhattan and the Bronx is making both possible to students in underserved areas of town.

BioBus is a laboratory on wheels where inner city high school students can be turned on to careers in science and medicine.

"About half the students have never been in a lab, have never met a scientist, have never even used microscopes before," said Ben Dubin-Thaler, Ph.D. and founder of BioBus

The BioBus allows you to look through ten-thousand dollar microscopes, and see tiny daphnia crustaceans from Central Park. The bus is only one event in a three year program run out of the Jewish Home Lifecare. Students are recruited at selected public high schools, and screened with essays and interviews for those wanting careers in science and hi-tech.

"First it was just doctors and nurses, but now I realize there are a lot of people behind the scenes. I realize you need a lot of people to work in the medical field and it's not as easy as it looks," said 16-year-old Danielle Allen of DeWitt Clinton High.

The Apple Store was the site of a field trip for Allen's class this morning, now the BioBus this afternoon.

The students quickly change from scientists to health aides for older people who mentor them, as part of the curriculum, which is called the "Geriatric Career Development Program". It is an entry to nursing and pharmacy careers.

"When they're visiting with the residents, the knowledge and wisdom that the residents bring to the students encourages them to pursue college," said Toni Sexton of the Geriatric Career Development Program.

18-year-old Melissa Cabrera of Brandeis High School wants to be a nurse assistant.

"You're exposed to different things, how to bathe them how to feed them, how to interact with them differently," said Cabrera.

Additionally, for the mentors to the students, it brings youth back to their hearts.

"Oh lord, it made my life when I came here and met these young people. It made me feel wanted," said 83-year-old Drucilla Marshall who serves as one of the mentors.

There are so many stories and wisdom that mentors can impart to the students. Field trips to local colleges are part of the curriculum. The career program is tied into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics coalition.

To learn more about BioBus CLICK HERE

To learn more about The Jewish Home Lifecare of Manhattan CLICK HERE

To learn more about the STEM Education Coalition CLICK HERE