STEAM Towards a Healthier World

Anya Shukla

Lakeside HS, WA

Junior (2019-2020)

Career Goals:

I’m not sure what I want to major in yet, but STEM is definitely a focus. Specifically, I'm interested in combining science with the humanities and working interdisciplinarily, through journalism or nonprofit work. I’ve been part of the arts community since third grade and interested in science for just as long; however, I've often been told that it’s impossible for me to try to combine the two seemingly disparate interests. Through this program, I’ve learned that it's possible to synthesize both, and I'd like to utilize both my creative and logical sides in my future career. As well, a passion of mine is giving back to the community, and I feel that since there are so many ways science can enhance both the world and people’s lives--through medicine, research, or engineering--STEM, especially when combined with other fields, such as the visual arts or writing, is a great way to utilize my love for service.


What did you learn from this course?

I learned about the effect of the microbiome and how that collection of bacteria has such a huge impact on your health. These microscopic creatures are so integral to our wellness: a poor microbiome can lead to issues ranging from acne to cancer. And I also learned about how doctors can use P4 medicine to treat the person holistically; rather than just reacting, the medical field can work proactively to heal others.


What advice do you have for future Ambassadors?

I'd advise future Ambassadors to stay curious. Just because you don't think a certain area of science is "for you," don't zone out during guest lectures or stop paying attention. You never know what you'll learn about yourself, STEAM, or your environment.

– Showcase Project –

"A Change of Heart"

Who/What inspired this project?

During my experience with Seattle Science Foundation, I learned more about how lifestyle choices can affect internal organs. However, I realized that for most people, it’s impossible to actually see the damage being done inside your body. When doing research for this project, I noticed a lack of photographic information as well. I wanted to change that dynamic by providing a representation of what poor lifestyle choices can do to your body.

How does your project communicate the relationship between the environment and health?

Our bodies are constantly changing in response to our surroundings. Over time, our actions and reactions can alter our organs permanently, for better (leading to a longer lifespan) or for worse (increasing disease risk). To showcase this, I created three hearts out of paper. Each heart reflects a different set of environmental factors--one is affected by smoking and has yellow/white arterial plaque, another is an example of a poor diet and is covered in yellow fatty tissue, and the third, a red heart, showcases the results of a healthy lifestyle. By visually comparing the three versions of the organ, viewers can learn more about how our environment affects our bodies.


Who is your target audience?

My project targets individuals, mostly teens and younger adults, who aren’t aware of how their decisions (in terms of diet and substance abuse) could affect their organs. This audience is young enough that they can change their lifestyle and avoid these negative effects.

It is well-known that poor lifestyle choices can affect physical wellbeing, but many teens don’t realize how their organs actually look when damaged. As young people, we often tend to focus on our outer appearance... but we could look healthy while doing irreparable damage to our insides. As well, teenagers are often told about "the ideal lifestyle," but there is a lack of visual data to back up what that looks like within your body. Because, as cliche as it is, a picture is worth a thousand words, I wanted to let people my age see what organ damage could look like and how their physical self can be affected by their environment.


As an Ambassador, how do you plan to share your message with your target audience?

I hope to share this message with my target audience through this STEAM website and social media.