Notre Dame Biology Student Takes Experience to Second-Graders

Notre Dame College biology major Matti Tygret plans to become a physician. Tygret’s biology professor, Tracey Meilander, knows part of being a doctor is educating patients. So, with Meilander’s guidance, Tygret took a turn at teaching─second-graders about germs.

Through the Cleveland Clinic Office of Civic Education Initiatives, Meilander and Tygret recently visited St. Helen Elementary School in Newbury, Ohio. Tygret shared with the 19 students in Amy Hotchkiss’ second-grade class some basic information about infectious disease.

“Involving Notre Dame College students in education and outreach aligns with our mission of professional and personal responsibility─and is a great way for students to practice scientific communication skills,” Meilander said.

Tygret introduced the second-graders to scientific materials and practiced the scientific process. Each student pressed his or her “clean” thumb, and then his or her really clean─sanitized─thumb, on a cell culture dish and compared the amount of bacterial growth under a microscope.

As part of the process, Tygret instructed the students in proper hand-washing techniques to demonstrate how to prevent the growth and spread of germs.

The team from Notre Dame also talked with the students about microbiology careers─ranging from physician to researcher to pharmacology to college professor.

This is the second year Meilander has teamed with the Cleveland Clinic, where she was a postdoctoral fellow, to offer a Notre Dame biology student hands-on experience in an educational setting through the Spotlight on Learning program. The second-graders will create a health-related play based on Tygret and Meilander’s presentation to be performed at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School in Chardon, Ohio, this May.

“The Cleveland Clinic education programs are a great way for students of all ages to become engaged in health and wellness topics and become knowledgeable about healthcare careers,” Meilander said.

For more information about Notre Dame College’s biology program, visit


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