Future medical professionals? Children gain early experience in the fields of medicine

HARLINGEN — Jalynn Maldonado might never look at candy the same way again.

She and her fellow fifth graders from Treasure Hills Elementary School had just watched acetone and corn starch eat away at Styrofoam teeth. The acetone represented acidic drinks and the corn starch was candy.

What was left was not a pretty sight.


“I am really enjoying learning if you brush your teeth all these won’t rot your teeth,” said Jalynn, 10, looking at the gooey mess at her table, which included colored sprinkles.

She was one of 18 students from Treasure Hills attending the Future Medical Professionals Academy yesterday at the Harlingen School for Health Professions.

The Academy is a partnership between HSHP and Treasure Hills as well as Rodriguez Elementary to expose children to various medical professions, said Veronica Kortan, administrator for organizational development.

“This is part of our district of choice,” Kortan said. “They are finding out if they are interested in different medical professions. This gives them the opportunity to make decisions about what they will do.”

The experience had already made an impression on Adam Tamez, another Treasure Hills fifth grader.

“I think I want to be a dentist one day,” said Adam, 10. “I am really excited about this. We’re learning how to brush our teeth correctly. You go up and down, in circles, go in the back, go in the front.”

He spoke more like a dentist explaining the finer points of brushing to a patient, the mark of a true professional.

Next door, another 12 students from Rodriguez Elementary were learning about sealants to protect the teeth as well as fillings for cavities. Donovan Daughrity, 11, held up a piece of plastic wrap.

“We got the plastic wrap which is a protective sealant for the teeth,” said Donovan, a Rodriguez fifth grader.

“You can get a protective coating for the teeth,” he said, adding this was one more experience he could use to decide what he would pursue later in life.