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Scranton, Pa., Medical Students Take Point on K-12 STEM Program

Students at Scranton-area elementary schools are learning about STEM concepts thanks to an $18,000 grant and a team of volunteer STEM teachers from the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

(TNS) — Lydia McNelis squished the plastic bag containing glue, purple food coloring and borax powder.

She and her third-grade classmates at Neil Armstrong Elementary School eagerly followed the slime-making instructions given by students from Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine Monday.

“It’s really fun to do experiments,” Lydia said.

The future physicians visited both the North Scranton school and Frances Willard Elementary in West Scranton on Monday, officially launching a program where they will expose children to STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math.

After medical students made a presentation about heroes to Scranton students for Sept. 11 last year, the medical students wanted to find a way to continue to make an impact on city children. The students formed an official organization — Tiny Inspirations — and received a private grant for $18,000 over three years to begin the project.

“I want their introduction to science to be exciting,” said Yevgeniy Busarov, a second-year medical student and a native of Ukraine. “We started the club from nothing. We’re gaining valuable experience in the community.”

The third graders assembled in Armstrong’s gym Monday afternoon, excited to rotate through the “Science Olympics.” The children made slime, mixed ingredients for bath bombs and watched them bubble and played the board game Operation with the future physicians.

“These grown ups you see with me, they’re students just like you,” Principal Lisa McConlogue told her students. “They’re learning to be doctors... Our hope is No. 1, you’re going to love science. And No. 2, that one day you’ll grow up and be like them.”

The students will visit Armstrong, Willard, John Adams and Charles Sumner schools monthly to work on projects and experiments. McConlogue serves as the group's educational adviser.

“It’s really an honor,” she said. “They are truly invested in doing good in the community.”

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