Members of the LSU SRP Research Translation Core (RTC) spent July 31 – August 3 at Louisiana Outdoor Science and Technology (LOST) Camp at Camp Grant Walker in Pollock, Louisiana. LOST Camp is a special week of 4-H camp with a focus on science, engineering, and technology (SET) in addition to the more traditional camp tracks like Outdoor Adventures and Water Safety. One of the goals behind offering these special sessions to 7th and 8th graders is to increase the number of students pursuing undergraduate degrees in SET areas.
The LSU SRP RTC developed the “Trackin’ Toxins” activities to introduce participants to the different disciplines of science that are involved in studying and developing solutions to complex environmental health problems, such as the Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals (EPFRs) our Center studies. The track activities also provide an engaging way for kids to learn about environmental issues and how to avoid personal exposure to some common environmental toxins. Our track covered topics including biomagnification of toxins through food webs, exposure to heavy metals such as lead, toxicity testing and dose response curves, assessing air and water pollution through biologic indicators, and the chemistry and health effects of air pollution. Instead of sitting in a classroom and reading about these topics, our LOST campers were immersed in hands-on science activities: collecting aquatic macroinvertebrates, using yeast as a model system to test the toxicity of “mystery” compounds, searching for pollution sensitive lichens, and trying to avoid polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a simulated food web game.
This is the second outreach activity that the LSU SRP has done in partnership with Louisiana 4-H this year. One of the reasons Louisiana 4-H’s goal of exposing students to careers in SET is such a good fit with the LSU SRP RTC’s mission is that research at the LSU SRP truly reflects the interdisciplinary nature of environmental health science. The LSU SRP brings together researchers from chemistry, pharmacology, environmental sciences, political science, and physics. To learn about our research, our interdisciplinary team, and careers in environmental health science visit the LSU SRP website or click here.