NCATS Explores Science with Middle School Students

Students at NCATS laboratories

Local middle school students tour NCATS’ laboratories during the Frontiers in Science and Medicine event on Oct. 27, 2017.

NCATS staff engaged nearly 60 local middle school students in science experiments and led tours of the Center’s laboratories during the ninth annual Frontiers in Science and Medicine event on Oct. 27, 2017. Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus, the event is designed to expose students to science and medicine and to encourage them to pursue careers in these fields.

NCATS senior scientists and postdoctoral students helped students from Kingsview Middle School in Germantown, Maryland, and Poole Middle School in Poolesville, Maryland, participate in a chromatography experiment. Chromatography is a laboratory technique for the separation of a mixture. Using permanent and non-permanent markers, the students tested the different effects that water and ethanol (used as solvents) had on special chromatography paper used in laboratory experiments. During the experiment, students could watch the components of marker ink travel up the paper at different speeds, causing them to separate, in the two types of liquid.

The students also learned how Center staff use cutting-edge equipment for scientific research. Charles “Pepper” Bonney, NCATS’ laboratory automation specialist, explained how assay plates are used to test different combinations of potential medicines. He also demonstrated how high-throughput screening robots test the different combinations of chemical compounds in the plates and showed the students different imaging devices that enable researchers to see the results of the assays. 

View event photos and videos on Flickr.

Learn more about the event.

Posted November 2017