Getting hands-on with scienceOct 13, 2012 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Conference at CWC encourages girls to experiment, explore
Classrooms at Central Wyoming College were overrun with middle- and high-school girls Friday during this year's Women in Science Conference in Riverton.
The students spent the morning in break-out sessions where they gained hands-on experience working in CWC's laboratories. One group, led by Tracy Ammann of the Fremont Vision Clinic, learned about the inner workings of cow eyes.
"I think it's great for these kids to participate in activities like this," said optician technician and CWC nursing student Jessica Pacheco.
Behind her, Ammann's intern, Elizabeth Hankins, helped a couple of girls remove the fatty tissue from around an eyeball. Riverton Middle School seventh-graders Taylenn Thompson and Talyn O'Neal seemed intrigued by the specimen in front of them --O'Neal used a scalpel to poke at the slippery eyeball, following Ammann's directions while Thompson looked on in disgust.
"The limbus is where we'll make our incision," Ammann said. "Make the incision with a pin, or gently with the scalpel, then cut around it with scissors. When you see fluid, take the scissors and cut the cornea out."
O'Neal said she was having fun with the experiment. When it was time to remove the cow's iris, she held the material on her finger so she could get a closer look.
"That is awesome," O'Neal said.
Thompson took her turn at the table when it was time to talk about the fluid in the back of every eyeball, which Ammann referred to as "clear jelly" in front of the eye's lens.
"I'm going to puke," Thompson said, poking at the gel-like substance on her tray.
Next door, another classroom of girls had just finished watching Gunda Gamble of G Bar G Veterinary Service in Riverton neuter a dog. Taylor Pereda, a Lander eighth-grader, said the operation wasn't as bad as she thought it was going to be.
"Now we get to cut into them," classmate Adrienne Matthews said.
Gamble had been saving her clients' testicles for several months, and on Friday she distributed one to each team of students.
"It's fun," said Jovi McAdams, a senior at Wyoming Indian High School. "It's a learning experience."
Katy Branham, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service and chair of the Women in Science Conference, said her organization's goal is introduce young women to the wide variety of opportunities available to them when they begin working. She said the conference expanded in 2008 to include men as well.
"The boys were starting to fall behind, so now we alternate every year," Branham said. "We're trying to encourage the youth of our area to realize there's more they can accomplish in life. There's more out there than they see day-to-day, and there are local men and women doing it."
For more information or to donate to the nonprofit group, visit wyomingwis.org.