Home-schooled students experience labs at Midwestern University.

Faculty Offers Hands-On Lab Experience for Home-Schooled Children

Local-area children participate in Getting to Know the Real Laboratory Program

  • IL - Downers Grove

One of the central values at Midwestern University is giving back to the community through outreach and community service. Ira Sigar, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Microbiology & Immunology, College of Graduate Studies (CGS-Downers Grove) hosted an annual event, with the support of the University and the Microbiology & Immunology Department, to give home-schooled children hands-on lab experience that they do not have the chance to participate in through nontraditional schooling. The event was held in the labs on the Downers Grove Campus for the third time, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dr. Sigar with the children participating in the Getting to Know the Real Laboratory program.
Dr. Sigar (center) ran a laboratory experience for 11 home-schooled children.


“This event gives the students real experience in the lab. They study, and maybe they have a virtual lab, but this is something they never experience if they do not get to a real lab facility,” Dr. Sigar said. “It is eye-opening for the students to explore more and creates more interest for them to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.” 

During the event, 11 students from the ages of 10 to 14 had hands-on experience using the microscope and other equipment for the first time. They also learned about lab safety and proper lab conduct, wore white lab coats and goggles, and learned about hand hygiene and how to wash their hands properly. Some of the lab activities included staining bacteria, examining microbes under the microscope, and using a strep throat kit. 


Home-schooled students experience labs at Midwestern University.
Students examine stained microbes under the microscope and record their observations.


“It’s fun to introduce home-schooled children to the real lab. I’m glad Midwestern University has this outreach. The students would never be able to do this if no one gives them a chance,” Dr. Sigar said. She was inspired to create this event due to friends of hers expressing the desire for their home-schooled children to experience labs. “The parents are very grateful for the experience, and the student group took the experience very seriously,” she said.  

Dr. Sigar shared her hope of continuing the event in the future with the inclusion of other departments, and she is appreciative of Midwestern University’s ongoing support for this event.  

Midwestern University supports the local community through outreach events like Getting to Know the Real Laboratory as a way of fostering a love of science. 

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