“Making research real” at Explorathon 2023

Tuesday 17 October 2023

A group of 13 School of Medicine staff participated in Explorathon 2023 at Dundee Science Centre on 30 September. The event saw 272 people from Tayside and Fife engage with 40 researchers from Scottish universities.

Led by Senior Teaching Technician Mr Henry Rae, the team conducted a series of engaging interactive medical science demonstrations for children of all ages. Station topics included balance, prosthetic joints, lung function, muscles, reaction times, and heart function.

Mr Rae operated the Swing Box, a favourite among past student visitors to the School, to demonstrate how external stimuli can affect one’s balance.

Running the “Heart” station, BHF-funded researchers Mr Jordan Marsh and Dr Amy Dorward measured visitors’ heart rates and ECG (heart trace), while explaining how the heart works and how their research helps regular people.

BHF-funded researchers Dr Amy Dorward (postdoctoral research associate) and Mr Jordan Marsh (PhD student) at the “Heart” stall.

Using pegs and an egg-timer to explore reaction times, Patient Partner Coordinator Ms Charlie Guy and Widening Participation Officer Mr Joe Curran delved into the world of multitasking. Visitors to their stall discovered that when we juggle two tasks at once, we often end up doing one of them quite poorly.

Meanwhile, at the “Bones and Joints” stall, Prosector Ms Olly Kovaljova and Anatomy Technician Miss Ann-Kristin Lillegraven showed visitors a diversity of human bones, explored bone functions, and demonstrated how damaged joints are treated.

Prosector Miss Olly Kovaljova discusses the functions of various bones with a young visitor.

At the “Muscle” stall, third-year BSc student Fergus Jajdelski explored just how crucial muscles are to our bodies’ functioning. Using models of the heart and the pelvic and microscopic images of several muscle types, visitors learned about the various different roles played by each type.

The respiratory stand, run by Clinical Teacher Dr Devesh J Dhasmana, gave children the opportunity to try using an old but trusted ‘spirometer’ to measure airflow, play with plastic heart and lung models, and conduct peak flow meter breath testing. They also got the chance to use a bronchoscope camera to look inside a home-made lung model! Dr Dhasmana was joined by three ScotGEM student volunteers (Aedan McCabe, Khaled De Jesuse, and Emoshogwe Idaewor), who helped show families what respiratory medicine involves, how diagnoses are made, and how everyone can understand their lungs better.

Clinical Teacher Dr Devesh Dhasmana and ScotGEM student Aedan McCabe at the “Lung Function” stand.

Reflecting on the day, Mr Rae said: “The families really came alive when interacting with our team. We enjoyed ‘making research real’ for members of the public and hope the visitors had as much fun as we did! Thanks to Explorathon Project Manager Kirsty Ross for bringing us together with other participating schools for a fantastic event.”

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