This year, the DEA’s Washington Division, under their new Operation Engage DMV initiative, partnered with Baby Scientist (a nonprofit organization delivering fun and engaging STEM programs to socioeconomically disadvantaged students) to bring inspiring programs and prevention messaging to kids across the D.C. metropolitan area.
Dr. Kristy L. McDowell, founder of Baby Scientist and PhD in Molecular Biology, along with agents from the DEA Washington Division, visited disadvantaged schools across the city to expose kids in the area’s most vulnerable communities to fun activities, encouraging messages, and career inspiration.
Dr. McDowell delivered fun and engaging programs where kids were provided “Baby Scientist kits” and able to perform real science experiments, exposing the students to a variety of scientific disciplines in order to provoke and stimulate their curiosity. The program aims to inspire an interest in the STEM field, an industry with a longstanding diversity and inclusion problem, and encouraging kids to seek more.
“If we want to ensure that our area children reach great heights, and our future leaders better represent people from all backgrounds, we need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to prevention and education,” said SAC Jarod Forget. “This program we are delivering is making a huge difference in the lives of our area kids.”
Each class received two program sessions occurring within one week’s time, with each session including two hands-on activities. Dr. McDowell delivered a short scientific overview/background about the upcoming experiments and guided instruction for the students. Experiments included topics such as extracting DNA, chemical reactions, defying gravity, and creating cells.
All the students had an incredible time and were truly inspired to meet and be taught by a scientist and agents who look like them, allowing the students to envision themselves achieving great things.
The supplies for all experiments, along with lab coats, were provided to each student. And each session was ended by explaining the important role that biology and chemistry plays in our bodies and cells, how the usage of “bad” drugs can negatively affect the functioning of our brain and entire body, and the importance of living a healthy, drug-free life so that their mind and body can perform at its highest level which is crucial for their future success as a STEM professional.