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Stempel College: Children get a behind-the-scenes look into research in dietetics and nutrition

Last week, children from Florida International University’s Camp Discover spent a fun summer morning exploring what a future in dietetics and nutrition research could look like. Together with Stempel College’s MetA-Bone Trial research team, children ages 5-12, participated in hands-on lab activities that gave them a glimpse of what it takes to get involved in nutrition research, such as in the MetA-Bone Trial—a study that is testing the effects of a prebiotic fiber supplement on bone mass in children.

Dr. Cristina Palacios, associate professor of the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition at Stempel College, was present to help guide the students in the activities. “This was an exciting opportunity to teach our future generation about what our field is about and instill positive feelings around research in dietetics and nutrition,” said Palacios.

Camp Discover is a fun-filled summer of educational projects and field experiences based at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Campers are immersed in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Palacios documented the visit and shared a behind-the-scenes look at what the children learned during their time at the dietetics and nutrition labs. Read her recap below.

Students learning how to mix liquids.

“The event kicked off with a visit to one of our labs at Stempel College,” said Palacios. “At the AHC1-430 lab, we have different machines for processing fecal, blood, urine, and other samples collected from participants in the MetA-Bone Trial. We analyze nutrients in this lab, such as vitamin D, calcium, lipids, and more. We showed the children how to mix liquids using a graduated cylinder, how to mix a powder (food powder) with a liquid (water) using the vortex, and how to pipette 1 ml from a larger volume into a smaller tube.”

“At our AHC5-110 lab, we perform anthropometric measurements, such as weight, height, knee height and waist circumference of the MetA-Bone Trial participants,” she said. “First, we had the children measure each other and later we showed them how to graph their weight and height using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) growth charts.”

 “At our AHC5-115 lab, we have a bone scan that measures bone mass, fat mass and lean body mass of the MetA-Bone Trial participants. We showed the children how we do this and played some interactive games about bone health.”

“At our AHC5-130 food lab, we mix the MetA-Bone Trial supplements (prebiotic fiber and calcium). We showed the children how to measure these supplements and how to mix them with orange juice, apple juice, water, iced tea, and cranberry juice. Then, they all tasted 2 ounces of each beverage and completed a Likert scale of how much they liked each.”

To learn more about FIU’s Camp Discover, go here. To learn more about the MetA-Bone Trial, go here.