Students explore careers in Health, Sciences & Technology Academy
A state program is encouraging West Virginia teens that may not have considered pursuing careers in medicine, science and technology to explore these fields.
The Health Sciences & Technology Academy (HSTA) is an after-school math and science enrichment program for ninth through 12th graders.
The goals of the HSTA program are to improve science, math, leadership skills and student knowledge and to raise the number of underrepresented, minority and rural students pursuing careers in health sciences, speech pathology and audiology and as middle school/ high school math teachers.
Program advisor and Berkeley Springs High School chemistry teacher Elizabeth Spring has been meeting after-school with 10 students and doing hands-on science projects with them.
The students have also gone on field trips to two engineering and science fairs, one in Frostburg and the other in Washington, D.C., and also visited the Baltimore Science Center and National Aquarium. Guest speakers have given presentations to the class. The program also has a summer camp.
As part of the academy, students each complete a research project, which they present, Spring said.
Two teens collected stinkbugs and researched ways to kill them by non-chemical means. Another did a project on the prevalence of bullying in rural versus urban areas.
Other student projects included the effect of fertilizer on plant growth, stress and the effect of music on chess performance, the calorie content of junk food, indoor lighting to grow vegetables hydroponically, the forensic simulation of blood of someone taking steroids and the generation of hydrogen gas.
The projects were all related to career goals of the students, Spring said.
Two seniors in the program are majoring in biology and plan to go on to medical school. There are no juniors in the academy. The freshmen and sophomores are less decided about their career pathways, she said. One is interested in psychology.
Only 10 students are permitted in the HSTA Academy at a time. They’ll pick up incoming freshmen to fill the two slots that will be open after the two seniors graduate. The program has an application and selection process, Springs said.
Sophomore Kylea Hauser said that she has enjoyed the experience, met a lot of neat friends and likes science now.
Of the academy, student Peyton Whetsel said, “We family.”