More than 70 middle school students became Tigers for a day at a career event sponsored by University of Missouri campus partners and Commerce Bank on April 4.

Students extracted DNA from a banana in a biochemistry lab, observed lungs inflating with oxygen during a respiratory therapy session and met a newly born lamb at an animal science workshop.

During the career day, middle school students got to participate in interactive science workshops with MU researchers.

During the career day, middle school students got to participate in interactive science workshops with MU researchers.

They also got a chance to get an up-close look at aerospace technology with a NASA turbine jet engine, experience wonders of the world in a virtual reality engineering lab and learn about food science and production during a visit to Buck’s Ice Cream.

Interim Provost Jim Spain welcomed students and encouraged them to explore career interests, set goals and make big plans for their education beyond high school.

Interim Provost Jim Spain talks to the 70 middle school students about the different career paths available after college.

Interim Provost Jim Spain talks to the 70 middle school students about the different career paths available after college.

Organizers say the goal of the career day was to expose middle school students to a variety of career paths, where they might find that spark of excitement and interest to guide future college and career choices. For instance, different workshops encouraged female students to explore agriculture, natural resource and engineering careers, and male students to consider options in health professions.

MU student ambassadors accompanied the middle school students during their time on campus, including visits to classrooms and labs of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, College of Engineering and School of Health Professions. Students met with MU faculty and administrators, participated in interactive workshops and tours and took their lunch break alongside MU students in campus dining halls.

Middle school students met with MU student ambassadors to learn more about different degree options at MU.

Middle school students met with MU student ambassadors to learn more about different degree options at MU.

Participating school groups included Gentry Middle School and Lange Middle School in Columbia; Hallsville Middle School, Macks Creek Middle School, Mexico Middle School, Holman Middle School in Pattonville; and Carr Lane Middle School, Compton-Drew Middle School and Yeatman-Liddle Middle School in St. Louis.

Organizers included Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Career Pathways Initiative and University of Missouri 4-H Center for Youth Development, in coordination with MU Admissions and The Connector at MU.  Event organizers are planning the next career exploration day for November.