Some 190 Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School (“BDJMS”) 8th grade students attended a seminar given by world-renowned researcher and scientist, Dr. Ricardo Ochoa. Students attended a college-style lecture. The enthusiastic and focused students formulated and responded to well-developed inquiries regarding genetics and cancer, and then had an opportunity to review real microscope slides of normal vs. cancer cells in animals.
The students, a combination of classes from Ms. Kristin Iaccarino and Ms. Erica Watson, displayed the highest amount of respect for Dr. Ochoa, excited to learn more about cancer and its mechanisms and effects. Each student submitted a written response regarding the seminar: “What feedback and questions do you have from today’s presentation?” Students’ verbal and written responses included:
“I did not know cancer was so interesting. The cells are AWESOME! Look at the way the colors stain the different parts of the cell. What is this? Oh, this must be the nucleus! Why is the nucleus so large?”
“The cure for cancer must be easy to find, now that we’ve seen these slides.”
“Dr. Ochoa is really intelligent and patient. I hope he comes back to visit us.” (to which Dr. Ochoa has already responded an emphatic “Yes!”)
“Why do nuclei keep dividing the cells so fast?”
Ricardo Ochoa, DVM, Ph.D., ACVP, FIATP and President of Pre-Clinical Safety Inc., introduced the students and teachers to his upbringing in Colombia, South America, and his extensive training. Dr. Ochoa alluded to his strong desire to encourage young people to seek out avenues of discovery, research, questioning, and sharing. Students were surprised to find out that Dr. Ochoa was fluent in Spanish, and he interacted with several of the young scientists in his native language.
Dr. Ochoa stood “on call” for any and all young scientists to ask questions as the students reviewed slides of cancer in monkeys and dogs. Ms. Iaccarino and Ms. Watson were very impressed by the students’ interest and fervor for the topics shared, as well delighted and grateful to have such an important figure in the world of science, come to BDJMS to present yet another potential field of study in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (“STEM”).
Ms. Watson has known Dr. Ochoa for several years through the Latin Comparative Pathology Group (“LCPG”), an international group dedicated to discovery and research through Latin-language-based individuals and companies around the world. Dr. Ochoa is a cofounder and continuation Board member of the LCPG.
Learn more about STEM at BDJMS by contacting teachers at BDJMS.
It should be noted that this article was written by our very own Ms. Erica Watson and humbly submitted by me.