WRITER: MEGHAN NEARY
CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: March 14, 2001
University Hygienic Laboratory offers learning opportunities to students
of all ages
IOWA CITY, Iowa The University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL), in an effort
to increase awareness of environmental and public health issues, offers a
number of outreach programs for students from kindergarten through college.
Located on the University of Iowa Oakdale Research Campus, the UHL is Iowa's
environmental and public health laboratory. The UHL provides a host of services,
including diagnostic and epidemiologic services in the areas of microbiology,
immunology, virology and molecular biology, as well as testing of drinking
and recreational waters and various analyses for the detection of contaminants
in the environment.
The UHL's work also includes community outreach and education to inform the
community about environmental and public health issues.
"As a state agency, part of our mission is to reach out to the public
and get them involved," said Lorelei Kurimski, UHL coordinator of external
programs. This outreach especially includes students, and the UHL has programs
to reach Iowa's younger residents.
One program, offered to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, includes
educational outreach presentations. UHL staff deliver presentations to classrooms
or large groups of students to teach them both in the classroom and in the
field. For example, UHL limnologists take a "bugs road show" to
students where they discuss and provide examples of insects and fish collected
in Iowa streams. When UHL limnologist Todd Hubbard visited first and second-graders
at Horace Mann Elementary School in Iowa City last January, he brought a number
of specimens from Iowa rivers and streams. The class was studying pond life
in the middle of winter and was unable to collect specimens or take a field
"This program was great because they brought the actual items to us,"
said teacher Anita Kerr. "I thought they were very well-prepared, very
knowledgeable and answered all the students' questions." Kerr's students
were able to observe specimens both in vials and on slides under a microscope,
and they made sketches of what they saw. Students also were introduced to
the backpack electroshocker used to collect stream fish.
"The kids got to do a lot of hands-on stuff and they were very active
during the entire presentation," Kerr said.
For older students, UHL staff may conduct a field trip to a local stream
or pond as part of the program so the students can collect their own samples.
All demonstrations are tailored to the students' grade levels and teachers'
"Our laboratory staff are really good about coming in at the level that
is needed," said Lynn Hudachek, UHL coordinator of external affairs.
"It's a good way to introduce students to the topics in a way they understand."
Classroom outreach is available in all areas within the UHL.
The UHL also offers a grants program for educational projects to assist junior
high and high school students with financial and technical aspects of science
projects. An average award of $250 per project is available for projects that
meet program requirements. Funds are limited, so applications are reviewed
on a first-come basis. The awards are not competitive but based on the merit
of the project.
The UHL also offers opportunities to students pursuing higher education in
a field related to the environment or public health. The Environmental Student
Internship Program (ESIP) is tailored to meet a college student's personal
career goals and gives them an opportunity to receive hands-on experience
in a working laboratory. The UHL offers the internships for summer only or
for the entire year. Participating students are given an introduction to all
aspects of laboratory operation and then may improve their skills in one or
two specialized sections.
"The students and teachers who participate in our public outreach programs
take what they have learned back to their families, and share what is going
on not just in their community, but across the entire state," Kurimski
said. "They understand that protecting our environment begins with the
actions of a single person, and there are opportunities for each of them to
play an active role."
For more information about the UHL or any of its outreach programs, please
visit their Web site at http://www.uhl.uiowa.edu.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.