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Teaching STEM skills to kids? Start with animals.

Purdue Veterinary Medicine and the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette have partnered to provide after-school and summer veterinary lessons for kids — who each receive scrub tops and get to build skills to be veterinary professionals-in-training. The lessons are part of the "Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Animal Contributions to a Healthier Citizenry" program, supported by a National Institutes of Health Science and Education Partnership Award.

"We are bringing veterinary medicine to life for these young students," says Sandra San Miguel, associate dean for engagement at the College of Veterinary Medicine, who oversees the program. "They set up mock veterinary practices and get to use the real instruments we use in animal care every day."

San Miguel says the program also provides a great launching pad for future veterinarians. Kids are especially interested to learn about health issues that affect kids and their animals, like asthma.

"We want to give them hands-on practice as early as possible so they have tools to succeed," she says. "It’s also a creative way for us to change the face of veterinary medicine in the communities where we serve."

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