In science, as in life, it is more important to learn how to ask the right questions than anything else. The DNA Learning Center (DNALC) created a program called Students Talk Science, which connected high school students to senior scientists and people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared their thoughts and questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and healthcare disparities in minority communities. The goal is to empower the next generation of researchers and healthcare providers to talk about healthcare accessibility.
Jason Williams, assistant director of Inclusion and Research Readiness at the DNALC, headed the program, collaborating with Professor Carol Carter from Stony Brook University, and Katie Montez, a teacher at the Red Cloud Indian School. Participating students were chosen from the DNALC’s Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) program and the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The students interviewed some of the nation’s top scientists—members of the senior leadership at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—and unaffiliated caregivers who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When students can connect to science, they bring along their peers, their families, and their communities. In the tragedy of the pandemic, this project was an opportunity to highlight how science can be a path to hope, and how students can help navigate that path,” said Williams.
Videos of the conversations are available on the DNALC’s YouTube channel. For example, watch Central Islip High School student Zen Ho Sang asking Dr. Eugenia South of the University of Pennsylvania about her experience during the COVID-19 pandemic: