TRAK’D moves full STEM ahead

In April, local scientist Dr. LaChelle Waller realized her dream of bringing science to kids in the community where she grew up. A PhD graduate from Virginia Tech, Waller grew up in Chester attending Curtis and Harrowgate Elementary, Chester Middle and Thomas Dale High School.

When she got to Virginia Tech, she realized much of the lab experience other students had gained in the formative years, she had missed out on in her early education. She also realized that getting kids interested in science and teaching them the basics could be done early in a child’s life. Hence TRAK’D was born – an organization, to teach kids through fun, hands-on experiments.

Dr. Waller doesn’t just want to teach science, though. She wants to expose kids to all aspects of the STEM fields and even incorporate art.

Dr Waller along with a team of volunteers, including family, friends and other STEM professionals, held her fist TRAK’D community workshop on a Saturday in early April. Twenty preK-5 students and their parents learned about DNA by making a model from candy and then extracted DNA from a strawberry. To simulate an actual lab environment, the kids were all in science goggles and gloves as they followed Dr Waller’s instruction to conduct the experiment. The students followed the steps and most were able to pull a strand of DNA from the extraction solution. The parents were even amazed. The experiment also showed that household products – strawberries, alcohol, water, and coffee filters – could be used to conduct science labs at home.

Dr Waller is now preparing for future workshop with a goal to hold workshops at schools through out the area and more weekend programs and even a summer camp. For more information contact Dr Waller at lmw.trakd@gmail.com.

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