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Playing with plastic turtles and snakes is not part of the College of Nursing curriculum. But it was part of Fossil Day at Norwood Elementary, a Student Nurses’ Association (SNA) outreach activity in which nursing students assisted fifth-grade teachers in illustrating to their students how fossils were formed.

The SNA volunteers held stations where they molded miniature plastic turtles, snakes, and leaves to demonstrate the evolution of various fossils. The SNA volunteers also held Microscope Day, where they assisted the fifth-graders in identifying materials under microscopes.

“The aim of these days is to give students the chance to learn hands on,” said Calli Smenner, SNA Volunteer and a senior in nursing. “They had been learning about these things in class and these days take their book learning into real life.”

SNA is a student-led organization that provides valuable resources to student nurses. In addition to training, SNA provides a place for students to practice leadership skills, participate in community service events, and forge friendships with fellow nursing students.

“Being involved in SNA is a way to be a leader in my class as well as give back to the community,” said Smenner. “I enjoy doing outreach activities because it is a simple way to give back to the community and show that I care. There is nothing better than see a child’s face light up as they learn and have a great time. ”

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett was on hand for Fossil Day and spoke about collecting fossils as a young boy at his aunt’s house in Middle Tennessee. Students said his story made them view science projects as exciting adventures.

The SNA students will return to Norwood Elementary for another Microscope Day at the fourth grade-level.

Partnerships between the College of Nursing and local agencies make outreach programs like this possible. Such outreach programs include the homeless clinic, forensic nursing services, and a school health clinic.