SPOKANE, Wash. — Seven students each from grades six, seven and eight have been invited to Washington State University Spokane May 13 to become scientists for a day. 

The students are all regional winners in the sixth annual essay and poster contest “Biomedical Breakthroughs and My Life,” sponsored by the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research. The contest asks students to investigate and examine how biomedical research has impacted their lives.

More than 500 students from middle schools and junior high schools in Washington and Idaho participated in this year’s contest. This year marks the first time that regional winners in the Inland Northwest region were welcomed to participate in a special awards ceremony in eastern Washington. Together with their parents and teachers, the students are welcomed to WSU Spokane and recognized for their achievement in a formal awards ceremony.

In addition to receiving cash prizes and certificates, the students will take part in state-of-the-art research, guided by scientists from WSU Spokane and Eastern Washington University in conjunction with WSU Spokane CityLab, WSU Spokane Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Center and the Eastern Washington Area Health Education Center, WSU Extension. In one of the labs, the students will learn the specialized techniques of agarose gel electrophoresis and use these skills to analyze DNA and solve a crime. 

Northwest Association for Biomedical Research education manager Jeanne Chowning said, “I think the awards day is great for both scientists and kids. The scientists get to interact directly with middle school students. And the kids are still at a very impressionable age. These students haven’t made up their minds yet about what they think about science. They’re still open to new ideas and new ways of thinking about things.” 

One of the contest goals is to help enrich students’ understanding of science and the valuable contributions it has made.

“WSU Spokane is pleased to partner with NWABR in this program,” said Sylvia Oliver, director of WSU Spokane CityLab.  “NWABR provides many programs and activities throughout our region to help the public understand the importance of biomedical research. The Biomedical Breakthroughs Contest and Scientist for a Day awards are wonderful examples of the way NWABR is supporting science education for our youth, and we are glad we are able to assist in these efforts.”

For more information on the contest, visit http://www.nwabr.org/education/contest.html.