STEM Day in Lakewood Ranch focuses on animal sciences.
The Out-of-Door Academy seventh-grader Andrew Brewer and his partner Jack Meyers each grabbed a pair of tweezers and carefully began jabbing at blobs of neon yellow gelatin. Something round was buried inside and they were determined to retrieve it.
"I'm not sure what that is," 13-year-old Andrew said as he poked the gelatin carefully.
It was a pea, he later learned, but it didn't mater. To Andrew and Jack and their classmates, the peas represented tumors in need of biopsy. Seventy-four ODA students on April 10 spent the day in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lessons based on animal medicine.
During this particular exercise in teacher Stephanie Sassetti's classroom, they dug out the tumor and carried it to a computer, which spat out whether it was dangerous or not.
"I learned you have to be very careful," Andrew said of performing surgery. "You can't break any other tissue."
As part of ODA's annual seventh-grade STEM Day, students spent the day conducting experiments meant to simulate real-life surgeries or other medical scenarios, dissected a pig's heart and heard from industry-related speakers, among other activities.