When Chris Hartman joined the Cub Scouts, he probably expected to learn how to tie knots and build a campfire. But the Edmond 10-year-old likely never imagined that the experience also would take him to state-of-the-art research labs for lessons about biomedical research.
On Saturday, Hartman was among a group of Cub Scouts from metro-area communities who earned their scientist technology badges by learning about cancer at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
The scouts, from Edmond, Piedmont and Guthrie, are part of Pack 1 in Edmond. They must earn at least eight badges in order to transition into the Boy Scouts. The scientist technology badge requires scouts to visit a laboratory and talk with a scientist.
The scouts spent a morning in the lab of Darryll Dudley, a post-doctoral fellow in OMRF’s cancer and immunology research program. “Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells and is often associated with the over-expression of certain genes,” Dudley explained to the boys. “It’s not something you can catch.”
“So you’re basically trying to find a cure for cancer?” asked Hartman.
“It’s a long process that many people are working on,” Dudley replied.
Hartman’s mother, Tamra, said the visit offered the boys something more than what they’d learn from a textbook. “The opportunity to take part in research means a lot to them,” she said. “It’s also a great way for them to investigate their future careers, and it allows science to come to life for them.”
Cubmaster Paul Ingram watched as the scouts soaked in the experiments. “I like to see that the boys are getting to see something they wouldn’t likely see until high school,” he said. “I really think they’ve been impressed.”
Bradley Ingram, 9, a scout from Piedmont, said his favorite part of the tour was looking at mouse cells through a microscope. “It was really cool because they were white and blue,” he said. “I really was surprised because I didn’t know what to expect when I looked in the microscope.”
Chartered in 1946, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is one of the nation’s oldest, most respected biomedical research institutes. Dedicated to understanding and curing human disease, the nonprofit institute focuses on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. It is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.