A group of JBS students had a chance to interact with professional scientists, engineers and physicians during 2022’s Praxis Week.
Designed and coordinated by STEM liaison Martha Keeley (Science), Praxis Week happens every June. This year's programming connected 20 upper school students with professionals across a variety of STEM fields such as data science, architecture, civil engineering, biotechnology and robotics engineering.
Praxis Week offers STEM-curious students a chance to experience a typical work day alongside professionals working in the field, as well as gain general insights about entering the workforce.
Writes one student: “I learned so much about future careers and what I am interested in. I would totally recommend this program to others as well, because it crams so many opportunities into one week and is a great place to try everything and test what you enjoy or don’t.”
This year’s Praxis Week opportunities included:
- A Zoom call with Elana Stettin ’15, a software engineer at Apple, and Ros Shinkle ’14, a robotics engineer at Boston Dynamics.
- A field trip to Bayer Crop Science in Chesterfield, where students learned about modern agriculture. This field incorporates not only science but also data science, mechanical engineering and biotechnology. Students had a chance to visit growing chambers, observe the process of making a GMO, and play a game simulating decisions made by farmers that affect their crop yield as well as sustainability.
- An afternoon with Melissa Peterein, a civil engineer with Black & Veatch who works on huge water-related environmental projects and volunteers with Engineers Without Borders. Peterein arranged a tour of MSD's Missouri River treatment plant.
- A visit to the Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering lab of Dr. Vijay Ramani at Washington University for discussions and lab demonstrations related to ongoing research in these areas.
- A trip to City Foundry — a historic industrial building recently adapted for modern use — where students focused on architecture and structural engineering. Student teams also completed a design challenge.
- A biomedical engineering challenge at Saint Louis University, which required students to use the properties of various materials to launch a marshmallow a specific distance. Graduate students specializing in tissue engineering then led students in a laboratory investigation of hydrogels, while another graduate student demonstrated the articulating robot she was programming and testing to perform medical procedures.
- A conversation with Dr. Matthew MacEwan, founder of local healthcare startup Acera Surgical and the parent of an incoming JBS seventh grader. Students executed an entrepreneurship simulation and pitched their products to the "Shark Tank," with two students playing the role of the "shark" investors.
- A campus visit from Pfizer scientists, who told the story of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and the potential for groundbreaking advances in pharmaceutical medicine inherent with the advent of mRNA technology. Kate Ward (Biology) led students through a simulated COVID-19 rapid antigen test, giving students experience with the tools used in immunology while they interacted informally with the guests from Pfizer.
- Another trip to Saint Louis University, where students learned about aeronautical and aerospace engineering through two design challenges, as well as a tour of the aeronautics labs that included a subsonic wind tunnel demonstration.