Under the microscope in neuroscience professor Siddharth Ramakrishnan’s lab, the tiny heart of a Japanese rice fish embryo was beating.
And the group of fifth-grade visitors from Tacoma’s McCarver Elementary School had questions. “When will they be born?” one student asked. “How long does it take for them to grow up?” asked another.
They will hatch in three days, Siddharth answered before explaining that they will be fully grown in three months. “Now let’s take a look at a fish brain,” he said, placing the embryos back in the incubator and grabbing scissors and forceps from a drawer. The dissection sent the students into a frenzy.
This scene was part of “McCarver Day”—an annual campus visit by 60 fifth-grade students from McCarver that is one aspect of a larger educational exchange with the University of Puget Sound. Now in its ninth year, the program was created by professors Amy Ryken and Monica DeHart in collaboration with McCarver teachers and professors at the University of Washington, Tacoma. The goal of McCarver Day is to create a visible pathway to college for kids from Tacoma’s historically underserved Hilltop neighborhood.