Intro to STEM Careers with RAIN Incubator

RAIN’s mission is to grow the biotechnology industry in Tacoma. We want to increase accessibility and show kids, no matter what their background, that this is a possible path for them.

We had about 50 students from Stewart Middle School visit our facility on DiscoverU Day, a district-wide career exploration event for students of all ages. We wanted them to see what a professional lab was like so we set up miniature activities for them to move through. They held tools in their hands and got a sense of what the work is like.

We did a lesson with several classes at Jason Lee and Stewart as well, introducing them to our processes. We focused on DNA extraction and students took cells from their cheeks using pipettes, test tubes, and measuring tools. We talked about our work, synthetic biology, and what our own scientists have researched.

We’re now developing level two of the Bioengineering Camp, which offers more intense research opportunities for sophomores who already took level one or are taking AP Biology.

Our first camp had 15 students and 14 of them were female so that was a win for us. We had five students of color so there’s definitely room to grow. Our camp was free due to a grant from Graduate Tacoma and other funding.

This is our third year doing the iGEM program, which gives seniors and advanced students an opportunity to conduct real research and compete nationally.

We also do Superheroes of Science talks. We introduce students to a variety of STEM careers through guest speakers. Along with that, we’ve added professional development for teachers in middle and high school. Our goal is to make synthetic biology available to them and help them see how it can connect with their existing curriculum.

This article was featured in the 2019 Community Impact Report. 

Mandy Galuszka is the Education Coordinator at RAIN.