Southeast Arkansan Middle School Students Take on COVID-19 During Virtual U of A Biomedical Research Camp

by | Aug 11, 2020 | Diversity & Inclusion, Faces of Fulbright, Features, Outreach & Impact

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing this summer, in addition to college courses being affected, so too were the summer camps and learning experiences hosted each year at the University of Arkansas campus.

But for the 2020 Biomedical Research Camp, instead of cancelling the organizers quickly adapted and shifted to a virtual setting while also taking the topic of COVID-19 head-on.

“The students were so happy that the camp wasn’t cancelled and were very excited. One camper said she had been waiting the whole year for it,” said Tameka A. Bailey, a research assistant professor of biological sciences in Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, who founded the annual week-long camp.

Bailey and her team sent the 20 participating middle school students from Dumas and Gould, Arkansas special kits in the mail with experiment supplies and created video experiment walk-throughs – all with a special COVID-19 theme.

“The students conducted experiments to show how germs spread, the importance of washing your hands, and learned how physicians conduct serological testing to identify patients that have contracted COVID-19,” said Bailey, who is also a Gould native.

The Biomedical Research Camp, now in its fifth year, aims to give students a hands-on look at the world of biomedicine, and encourages them to consider educational and career paths in S.T.E.A.M. – science, technology, engineering, math and the arts.

While the camp originally started as a way to help girls connect to science-based opportunities and higher education, last year the camp expanded to include boys, too, including one who got to help demonstrate this year’s experiments. True Bailey, along with his mother Ro, star in the YouTube instructional video sent to this year’s campers.

This year’s camp also featured collaborators and supporters from across campus, along with Synetra and Airic Hughes, of Visionairi, who created and made the instructional video possible.

“I want to thank them so much, along with Dr. McNabb, the biological sciences chair, and the U of A’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, who especially wanted the camp to happen this year to make sure we could continue our relationship with students in Dumas and Gould,” Tameka A. Bailey said. “We didn’t have enough funds, so they financed it which is an amazing gift.”

Bailey said her goal is to further expand the camp in the years ahead. She wants to be able to accommodate more students and provide even more experiences for them, adding that running the camp is also her way to give back to her community and uplift others.

“What we want most of all is for these outstanding young scholars to envision themselves as college students,” Bailey said. “We want the experiences they have at the Biomedical Research Camp to motivate these wonderful students to create fantastic futures for themselves.”

Bailey said she ultimately hopes that the experiences the students have at the Biomedical Research Camp become “a seed that is planted that will keep growing, because the gift of education is passed on from generation to generation.”

For more information about the annual Biomedical Research Camp, or to make a gift to support it, please give online now, or contact Fulbright College’s Office of Development and External Relations by email at fulbright@uark.edu.

Andra Parrish Liwag

Director of Communications,

Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences 

479-575-4393 // liwag@uark.edu