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Washington-McKinley's 6th-Graders Celebrate a Day of Science

The students in Mamie Kernagis' sixth-grade Science class at CHSD170's Washington-McKinley School recently welcomed medical student Rachel Stone, who conducted a laboratory and question-answer Science Day session in the classroom.

During the presentation, Stone discussed research projects she is pursuing, her educational experience, her job as an EMT, and the basics of lab safety. The activity ended with the students dissecting pig hearts.

"The goal of the Science Day was to spark an interest in science, scientific careers, and medical careers among the students," Kernagis said.

"We hoped to encourage them to make decisions now and in high school that will facilitate their ability to enter college and technical programs in science, medicine, and medical technology."

Stone, who currently is pursuing her medical degree at the Chicago Medical School and who worked as an EMT for several years, is the daughter of SD170 teacher Gabrielle Stone. She offered to visit the school at Kernagis' request, and together they planned an activity that would interest and inspire the students.

"I wanted to help the students to find their passion for learning about science," Stone said.

"Sometimes, to find your passion, you have to look into someone else's heart. Whether they needed to see inside my heart or the pigs' hearts, I'll never know," Stone continued.

"I just hope that the students were able to find what they needed to spark their own love of science."

Kernagis agreed with Stone's thoughts on the activity.

"I wanted to provide for the students a hands-on, exploratory activity that aligned with our human body unit," she said.

"I casually mentioned to Mrs. Stone that I had been gifted various animal body parts from another teacher, and I wasn't sure of what to do with them. Mrs. Stone told me that her daughter is a published biologist and that she would love to come to work with my class."

"The Day of Science evolved from that conversation and was an immense success. The students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with someone with first-hand experience while engaging in a practical application illustrating what they have been learning about concerning the human body," Kernagis concluded.