Last week, nearly 100 students from Marana and Amphitheater school districts spent a day, clad in lab coats, learning, seeing and doing what scientists and engineers do every day at Ventana Medical Systems.

The Oro Valley-based company, part of Roche Holdings, held Young Scientists Day last Wednesday. Students had a hands-on day experiencing the biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics that go into cancer diagnostics.

Starting about 8 a.m., the students broke into small groups and rotated through seven different stations.

One of the stations consisted of looking at slides that had been dyed and treated to help blood cells and cancer tissue stand out, in turn helping scientists better diagnose the specific type of cancer a patient might have. At another station, the students were shown how, through multiple chemical processes, scientists and machines isolate certain cells and only dye those.

Other stations allowed students to see how diagnostic machines are assembled, from the pre-planning stages all the way to production.

Students discussed the importance of poster presentations, much like those used in schools. Posters are one of the main forms of communication devices used when scientists want to present products to other scientists.

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