About 60 Andres Duarte Elementary fifth graders got that start Thursday when they took part in a huge experiment at the City of Hope medical center.
At 10-years-old, Jose Almaraz already knows he wants to be a scientist. He and his classmates got to work in a real-life research lab at the City of Hope. Their first lesson was on the human digestive system and what happens inside the stomach when you digest things milk, vinegar, baking soda and medicine.
Students also got hands-on experience with islet cells, microscopes and disease simulation. The morning-long seminar is supported by a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and is part of the NIH's Science Education Partnership Award Program.
Not only do City of Hope researchers want to get kids excited about science, they're hoping the grant will pay off in others ways.
"The long term goal is to change the face of research in many ways," said Dr. Susan Kane with the City of Hope. "It's a real pipeline issue, especially in terms of underrepresented minorities, which our local community is rich in. There are very few minorities going into research."
As part of the five-year grant, the City of Hope will continue to partner with the Duarte Unified School District and offer programs to second graders, eighth graders and high school students.
Planting these seeds of science could someday result in 10-year-old Samantha Bermudez majoring in biochemistry or biology. For her, it's a whole new world.
"It is very interesting and it can help you with a lot of things," she said.