The University of Nebraska Medical Center teamed up with Sanford Health and Augustana College and other organizations to host a health and science camp for Native American middle school students.
This camp aims to get students excited about learning. The National Institutes of Health funds about 80 grants across the country. University of Nebraska Medical Center uses their grant to focus on bringing health and science to schools and communities on the reservations in Nebraska and South Dakota.
"The things I really like about it so far is that I get to learn more about the human body and how it works and that's my favorite part about science," Nacaiah Afraidoflightning said.
Nacaiah Afraidoflightning is part of a middle school group of more than 50 students who have spent the last couple of days learning about health and science.
"The chemical suite that I tried on and how if the person is contaminated, it takes like 20 minutes to get that suite on and you have to stay 15 minutes, so I'd tell my friends about that," Afraidoflightning said.
It's through these hands-on learning experiences that may create a lasting impact on their lives in the future.
"I noticed how the different diseases and how they are looking for cures and I notice that if I did that I could actually help people and save a life," Afraidoflightning said.
"Part of our expansion of our research efforts at Sanford Health is also intimately tied to the communities that they serve through education and outreach opportunities," Children's Health Research Center Associate Scientist Peter Vitiello said.
An opportunity to influence these students at a young age in a positive way and get them excited to learn more.
"The camp is designed to bring together professionals in science fields to interact with these middle school students," Vitiello said. "It's just a pivotal time where they are making decisions about things that they like and that they don't like that they will carry that over to high school and college and it's an interaction with professionals that they wouldn't get elsewhere."
For nearly a decade, organizers of this camp have been working with schools on the Native American Reservations in Nebraska and South Dakota.
"The fact is that they are not that many opportunities for native people and it's something that we saw as a great need and we are trying to in a small way fill that need as much as possible," University of Nebraska Medical Center Professor Maurice Godfrey said.
"It is kind of neat to see how they are combining a little bit of my culture with the science because they talked about all the natural medicines that we use and said how some help with sickness and stuff so we won't stay sick for a long time," Afraidoflightning said.
The camp is funded by the National Institutes of Health through the Science Education Partnership Award.