Matt Debow – Lebanon Express – Three middle school students watched in awe as COMP-Northwest student Will Galbraith lifted a one dollar bill with a magnet.

Eighth-grader Dina Altuhov was a one of those students at COMP-Northwest’s Health Career Ladder program on Dec. 5. The program is held for one month a year on most Saturdays during the school year.

“I learned that everything can be affected by a magnet: you just have to have a really strong one,” Altuhov said of the expirement.

Galbraith was using a rare earth magnet to show the kids that nearly everything is magnetic in some form, including cereal — because it contains iron.

Altuhov said she wants to become a surgeon because she enjoys the show “Gray’s Anatomy” since she was little, and because she enjoys going to the doctor, she said. Those are also the reasons she attended the LHCL program.

Altuhov enjoys learning about new complicated scientific topics, but the LCHL is able to present those issues in an understandable way, she said.

Altuhov is in eighth grade, which makes here a third year LCHL.

The third year career ladder students rotated from four different demonstrations in COMP-Northwest study rooms. Another experiment was filling balloon with water and air, and fill balloons with just air the holding each balloon over the flame of a candle.

The balloons containing water didn’t pop immediately.

The reason for that is water, which is cooler than the gas air, absorbs heat, explained Cody Laverdiere, COMP-Northwest student leading the demonstration.

Laverdiere asked the students how that knowledge could be applied in medicine.

It could be used to break a fever, a student responded.

True, Laverdiere agreed, but that knowledge also is used for organ transplants as donated organs are kept cold so they last longer, he explained.

In another room, Lebanon High School student Jorin Bruslind helped lead a microbiology experiment with his mom Linda Bruslind. Linda Bruslind is a professor of microbiology at Oregon State University.

Most of the time her OSU students help out with these outreach efforts, but those students were unavailable.

Linda Bruslind said she does a several outreach efforts to expose the kids to the field of microbiology.

Getting kids interested in possible career fields, not just including medicine, is of the the LCHL’s, goals said Tristen McKenna, second year med student and president of the program.

The LHCL mimics curriculum that’s been done on the Pomona College of Osteopathic Medicine campus for about 20 years, McKenna said.

“The whole idea is that bring in kids who are in sixth grade,” McKenna said.

The career ladder days starts with a presentation from a professional in a science field. That presentation includes the students and parents.

“We’ll get them excited about being a researcher or get excited about being a doctor,” McKenna said.

Other examples of professionals include aircraft pilots and engineers, he said.

After the large group students are broken into small groups where they get to do fun experiments.

“With the sixth, seventh and eighth graders, we focus on fun,” McKenna said. “For this academy we’re doing scientific method, but we’re making it fun.”

The parents are split into a different spot where the adults learn about how to have their kids apply for college and how to apply for grants and scholarships.

At the latest academy, a panel of COMP-Northwest students talked about how they all didn’t do well in high school during a presentation to the parents.

“It just opened the parents eyes to ‘you don’t need to be a 4.0 valedictorian’ to go to university,” McKenna said. “All of us basically said we sucked in high school. Every single (COMP-Northwest student) said I was a terrible high school student.”

When the students are juniors and seniors in the career ladder program, the LCHL will switch gears, and the goal is help them get into college, McKenna said.

“Okay, now that you are getting closer to college this is what you need to do to get into college,” McKenna said. “How to get letters of recommendation; how to do well on the SAT/ACT; how to write good essays for scholarships. Overall, we get the kids excited when they’re young and get them into college when they’re older.

To apply students for the LHCL, visit