bioEYES program gives Utah students hands-on science experiences

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City is one of five places in the United States offering the acclaimed bioEYES program, and teachers are using zebrafish to educate students about the human body.

“We’ve been learning zebrafish and how they hatch, and how they become eggs from embryos to adult fish,” said 5th-grade student Bryan Ramirez.

Bryan said he's always loved science, but he's a lot more interested when he can see it unfold first hand.

bioEYES was created in Philadelphia back in 2002 to get students excited about science and interested in careers in science-related careers.  They brought the program to a fifth grade classroom at Meadowlark Elementary School.

“We’re trying to get them hands-on experiences, where they can envision themselves as scientists, rather than them just opening up their notebooks to page 20,” said Dr. Judith Neugebauer, who works with the bioEYES program in Utah.

This time, the focus was on zebrafish—which are known to have similar hearts as humans.

“Zebrafish is an excellent system for this because we can take it into the classroom on Monday, the kids get to set up a zebrafish cross, and then on Tuesday they collect the embryos and they watch those embryos develop through the course of the week,” Neugebauer said.

The students watched the fish from when they were a one-cell embryo, all the way to the part where the heart starts to beat.

“The zebrafish, when they’re babies, you can see through them in a microscope, and you can see the blood pumping,” Bryan said.

Teachers say watching the kids get excited about science is the best part of their job.

“The best thing for me would be for every single one of those kids to become scientists, and I think that they all can,” Neugebauer said.

To learn more about the bioEYES program and where it's offered in Salt Lake City, click here.