Middle school girls work in teams as part of the Girls Science Discovery Day (Photo: LCOM Creative Services)
Can assembling Mr. Potato Head figures teach you about health care? This fun exercise and a wide range of other activities offered at Girls’ Science Discovery Day were designed to provide the 99 seventh- and eighth-grade girls in attendance with a glimpse into the health care field.
The annual event took place on Saturday, May 6, 2017, hosted by members of the Larner College of Medicine’s student chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association, and attracted students representing 28 different schools from across Vermont.
The day began with a welcome from the new medical student leaders of the UVM AMWA student chapter, and was followed by a keynote address by Mario Trabulsy, M.D., associate professor of surgery and emergency medicine specialist, who addressed the importance of women in science. The girls then split off into groups, rotating through four different workshops. Among the workshops offered during the Discovery Day were a team-based learning activity that involved the use of Mr. Potato Head toys and was designed to teach the girls how to work cooperatively in a team environment, like the health care setting. There were several different scenarios, each instructing the girls to assemble to Mr. Potato Heads in a specific way based on their symptoms and pre-existing conditions.
In the “Parts in Parts” session, led by Ellen Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences, girls examined real anatomical specimens in the Gross Anatomy Lab. They felt like real doctors working with such delicate material. The workshop, titled “Say ‘Ahhh,’” focused on teaching physical exam skills. Two medical students were stationed in each room; one played the role of Standardized Patient, and the other guided the girls on physician exam skills, including using a stethoscope to listen to a heartbeat.
Coordinators of this year’s event included AMWA SIG members Zara Bowden ‘20, Jinal Gandhi ‘20, Kyle Remy ‘20, Gesca Borchardt ‘20, and Julia Hannigan ‘20.
"It was truly magical to see the results of such hard work, dedication, and planning come together to create an unforgettable event," said Bowden. "Continuing to foster a love and appreciation for science and medicine in young girls is incredibly important, as they are the future generation of health care providers. It was a joy to support their enthusiasm!"