I am committed to exposing students and the general public to the field of Cell Biology and particularly to the importance of research on cell division and cell cell junctions in epithelial tissues. These are topics I’ve dedicated my career to; therefore, I feel passionate about them and have expertise to share. I enjoy the challenge of explaining biology in non-technical terms to students and sharing with them my excitement for scientific research. It is my hope that by doing these types of activities, I can expose students to a career option they might not have considered and provide them with a positive example of a woman in science. I have a particularly strong interest in targeting elementary through middle school-aged girls to help them feel enthusiastic about science and envision science as a potential career option.
Here at UM, I’ve worked with members of my lab to develop and present hands-on activities about cell division for groups of 4th-6th grade girls who come to campus as part of the Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Sciences (FEMMES) Program. FEMMES is a student-led organization, which hosts educational outreach programs related to STEM topics for 4th to 6th grade girls from underserved areas in the greater Detroit area. FEMMES aims to inspire girls to explore their potential in STEM fields by engaging them in hands-on science activities. In my lab’s activity, we teach FEMMES participants about cell division and cytokinesis. The girls do hands-on activities including: 1) learning about the stages of mitosis and cytokinesis through playing a game, 2) using stereomicroscopes to observe frog embryos and tadpoles at different stages of development, 3) learning about the scale of cells in comparison to other things, and 4) observing Xenopus laevis frogs and touching or trying to pick a frog.
Other examples of outreach activities:
- Ann and several lab members have been participants in the Science Communication Fellows Program at the UM Museum of Natural History, participated in two professional development workshops focused on building the skills to effectively engage public audiences and developing a inquiry-based hands-on activity to showcase the research in my lab to Museum visitors.
- Did a hands-on outreach activity at Angell Elementary School teaching 2nd graders about the frog life cycle and letting the students examine developing frog embryos with a stereomicroscope and touch a frog.
- Hosted Hartland High School Biology students for a tour of our frog room and highlighted the advantages of using Xenopus laevis as a model organism.
- Hosted Benzie High School AP Biology students for a hands-on activity with frog embryos and microscopes and provided information about doing undergraduate research at UM.
- Hosted a group of Michigan high school students from underserved, low-income high schools for a lab visit when they visited campus for Michigan Experience Day
Ann’s poster made for the Science Communication Fellows Program at the UM Museum of Natural History