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June 3, 2016
TYCTWD Captivates Throngs of Eager Kids

In a CC operating room, 7-year-old Elena, daughter of NLM’s David Hurwitz, successfully intubates a mock patient.
In a CC operating room, 7-year-old Elena, daughter of NLM’s David Hurwitz, successfully intubates a mock patient.

Hundreds of smiling kids descended on NIH on Apr. 28, excited to learn more about the place where their parents/guardians work. The 21st Take Your Child to Work/Earth Day featured dozens of activities both on and off campus that got kids thinking about ways to protect their health and the environment.

There were activities to stimulate all the senses. Some kids held models of hearts; others touched a preserved human brain. Some kids peered at cells through microscopes while others tried out gadgets that tested hearing and vision. Many kids and parents tasted farm-fresh cooking during an Earth Day demo. Throughout the day, the smell of curiosity was in the air.

Weeks earlier, many parents went online to register their kids for the limited-space activities, but a few of the most popular events filled up within minutes after being posted. One parent likened the process to trying to get Springsteen tickets.

One of the most coveted events is the Clinical Center’s operating room, where the little apprentices put on scrubs and headed for surgery. They moved robotic arms to reach for paper clips and intubated a dummy patient.

Another popular annual event is Fantastic Voyage, where kids circulate among five stations to learn about blood and other cells. At the microbiology table, kids saw staph, strep, E. coli and other bacteria in Petri dishes and viewed parasites through a microscope. At phlebotomy, kids learned about bloodwork. “Don’t be scared,” said Michael Guyah, a technician in the CC’s department of laboratory medicine. “We look at your blood so the doctor knows how to treat you and make your ouchies go away.”

In the CC’s audiology clinic, kids visited the sound isolation booth, charted pitch on an audiogram and took hearing tests. In a lab around the corner, kids tested their balance on a moving platform called computerized dynamic posturography.

“Your eyes and inner ears are connected,” said NIDCD research audiologist Dr. Chris Zalewski, while handing a child video goggles to try out. “Your vestibular system and eyes work together. Your eyes move when you turn your head or spin around so we can see how well your vestibular system senses movement by looking at how your eyes move.”

If you’re born with a vestibular system that doesn’t work properly, you could still learn to ride a bike, Zalewski explained, but it would be much harder. “We can learn to balance without a normal vestibular system, but we cannot restore hearing once it’s lost,” he said, “so it’s very important to protect our hearing.”

Over in Bldg. 1, Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research and a cardiologist, took out a 3-dimensional heart model and a bunch of stethoscopes. Kids excitedly jumped in to listen to their heartbeat and learn about this vital organ.

At Fantastic Voyage, Karen Byrne (l) of the department of transfusion medicine explains how blood types are determined. Cpl. Thomas Chiarizia of the NIH Police K9 unit shows off his partner Charlie, one of NIH’s 11 service dogs.
At Fantastic Voyage, Karen Byrne (l) of the department of transfusion medicine explains how blood types are determined. Cpl. At right, Thomas Chiarizia of the NIH Police K9 unit shows off his partner Charlie, one of NIH’s 11 service dogs.

Off campus, more than 100 kids participated in the NIDA-NIMH Brain Science Fair in the Neuroscience Research Center. The kids saw and touched preserved human and animal brains, viewed brain cells through microscopes and participated in other activities.

In a CC operating room, 7-year-old Elena, daughter of NLM’s David Hurwitz, successfully intubates a mock patient.
Dr. Muhammad Yousef, a CC anesthesiologist, lets kids try out intubating a dummy patient using a robotic arm.

PHOTOS: BILL BRANSON, ERNIE BRANSON

“My favorite event was the tour of the mouse facility [in the Clinical Center], because we got to see, like, 14 pinkies,” said 8-year-old Caleb Olander. “Pinkies are baby mice and they are super cute. We got to learn how the staff take care of the mice.”

Other activities showed youngsters how to burn off steam, from exercising to creating art. In the fitness center, group classes included CrossFit and jungle yoga. Fitness instructor Ashley Kim led a session called POUND, during which each kid used a pair of drumsticks, adding rhythm to their workout.

Children also learned about stress relief during NHLBI’s origami event in Bldg. 31. While some events required parents to wait outside, NHLBI encouraged parents and kids to participate together. Through coloring and the Japanese art of paper-folding known as origami, kids and parents were reminded to make time for stress-reducing activities. What else helps reduce stress? Some cited listening to music and playing outside; parents said shopping and sleep.

“We don’t need highly technical gadgets for people to understand something is healthy for them,” said NHLBI’s Kim Copenhaver. “It’s important at this age to think about healthy things to create balance in our lives.”

The day also featured open events without a space limit. Hundreds of kids met service dog Charlie and enjoyed the ever-popular NIH Police demonstration on the Bldg. 31 patio.

Many kids enjoyed playing interactive games. NIBIB had iPads set up for kids to play Want to Be a Bioengineer? “Science and communications folks worked to make it mobile-friendly and educational,” said NIBIB’s Dr. Tom Johnson. In the CC south lobby and off campus in Rockledge, budding scientists tried out another game app called NIH Scientist, where they learned about research to fight disease, even how to get a research grant.

Mother Nature sent heavy rain that day, so Earth Day activities moved indoors to the Natcher Bldg. Kids and parents roamed the hallways, learning ways to conserve, compost and cultivate. Many kids posted promises to protect the environment on a Pledge Tree. These included taking shorter showers and turning off lights and the Xbox when not in use.

NIDCD research audiologist Dr. Chris Zalewski helps a child use video nystagmography, in which an infrared video camera mounted inside a pair of goggles tests vestibular function.
NIDCD research audiologist Dr. Chris Zalewski helps a child use video nystagmography, in which an infrared video camera mounted inside a pair of goggles tests vestibular function.

Professional chef and food educator Jonathan Bardzik prepared quinoa with asparagus and a vinaigrette, which kids and parents happily sampled while learning about sustainable cooking. Winding through the corridor, kids and parents learned about climate change, home and workplace safety and how to grow their own bonsai trees. Many kids received plant seedlings to help start their own garden. NIH’s Department of Environmental Protection staff talked about NIH green initiatives, from rooftop solar panels to more plugs to power electric cars. The R&W collected used eyeglasses and cell phones for donation. And the big paper shredder truck was out back, inspiring moms and dads to clean out their offices.

It was another successful Take Your Child to Work/Earth Day that informed and entertained both kids and parents alike. If you missed out on getting a spot for your child in a reserved event that filled up fast, there’s always next year. Just remember to sign up early. To see more images from the day, visit the NIH Record online.

Kids, Parents Enjoy Meeting the Directors

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak and NIH deputy director for extramural research Dr. Mike Lauer took time out of their busy day to host a Take Your Child to Work Day session in Bldg. 1’s Wilson Hall. More than 100 kids from grades 1-12 took part in a Meet the Directors event.

in Bldg. 1, NIH deputy director for extramural research Dr. Michael Lauer (l), a cardiologist, shares a stethoscope. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (r) sings about genes and “amazing DNA.”
Above, in Bldg. 1, NIH deputy director for extramural research Dr. Michael Lauer (l), a cardiologist, shares a stethoscope. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (r) sings about genes and “amazing DNA.” Below, NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak hosts a segment of 06_03.

“The parents really appreciated that Francis, Larry and Mike spent time with their kids,” said Dr. Sharon Milgram, director of the Office of Intramural Training and Education. “It’s a really nice opportunity to see this side of the NIH leadership.” She introduced the leadership after talking briefly about careers in STEM.

NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak hosts a segment of 06_03.

When he was a kid, Collins told the group, he wanted to be a truck driver, then considered being a country singer. But a teacher encouraged him to use his love of chemistry in the health field. He talked about some of today’s most pressing medical problems and said we need all kinds of people to get involved with such projects as the Cancer Moonshot and Precision Medicine Initiative to help advance health worldwide.

Collins then serenaded the room with his Walking through the Genes, to the tune of Del Shannon’s Runaway, in which the chorus goes: “I wonder why, you’ve got an A and I’ve got a G there; what does that say? Amazing DNA.”

Tabak then hosted a spirited game of NIH Jeopardy, featuring questions drafted by OITE staff. With clickers in hand, kids chose clues from two categories: Doctors and Weird Health Facts. All children left with a certificate of participation.—Dana Talesnik

Rainy NLM Herb Garden Attracts Youngsters

At the NLM Herb Garden are Ana Hartman, age 9, and Alex Hartman, 6. Mom Laura works in the History of Medicine Division.
At the NLM Herb Garden are Ana Hartman, age 9, and Alex Hartman, 6. Mom Laura works in the History of Medicine Division.

PHOTO: JUDY FOLKENBERG

Who knew that medicinal herbs are such an attraction to children? Among the many activities during Take Your Child to Work Day, a visit to the National Library of Medicine Herb Garden was included. However, a mid-morning rain augured a damper on attendance at the outdoor plot.

Much to the surprise of the Montgomery County Master Gardeners who were there to greet guests, children and their parents visited the garden in steady numbers throughout the morning into the early afternoon.

“Not only did our young visitors and their parents visit the garden, but many of them stayed quite a while asking questions of myself and the other Montgomery County Master Gardeners [Sandy Occhipinti, Selma DeLeon and Delore Leatora],” said Mary Musselman.

The children asked which herbs might help soothe a tummy ache or treat a sore throat. Many of the youngsters were knowledgeable about the plants and their properties because they helped their parents create home gardens. In one instance, a teenager asked questions for nearly half an hour as rain poured around him. The teen said the Herb Garden was what he looked forward to most during his visit to NIH.

The Montgomery County Master Gardeners also set up a table with various dishes and asked their young visitors to guess which herbs flavored the food. “We estimate that the NLM Herb Garden had approximately 100 visitors during the day,” said Musselman.

Musselman said she and her fellow gardeners were encouraged by the children’s interest in gardening and hoped their initial curiosity would endure through adulthood.—Judy Folkenberg

Gallery

In the CC’s audiology clinic lab, kids tested their balance on a moving platform called computerized dynamic posturography.
Winding through the Natcher Bldg. corridor, kids and parents learned about climate change, home and workplace safety and how to grow their own bonsai trees. Many kids received plant seedlings to help start their own garden.
Winding through the Natcher Bldg. corridor, kids and parents learned about climate change, home and workplace safety and how to grow their own bonsai trees. Many kids received plant seedlings to help start their own garden.
Kids excitedly listen to their heartbeat, courtesy of Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research and a cardiologist, who shared a 3-dimensional heart model and a bunch of stethoscopes.
Kids excitedly listen to their heartbeat, courtesy of Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research and a cardiologist, who shared a 3-dimensional heart model and a bunch of stethoscopes.
Professional chef and food educator Jonathan Bardzik prepared quinoa with asparagus and a vinaigrette, which kids and parents happily sampled while learning about sustainable cooking.
Professional chef and food educator Jonathan Bardzik prepared quinoa with asparagus and a vinaigrette, which kids and parents happily sampled while learning about sustainable cooking.
In Wilson Hall for Take Your Child to Work Day, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins tells kids about genes and “amazing DNA.”
Another popular annual event is Fantastic Voyage, where kids circulate among five stations to learn about blood and other cells. At the microbiology table, kids saw staph, strep, E. coli and other bacteria in Petri dishes and viewed parasites through a microscope. At phlebotomy, kids learned about bloodwork.
Another popular annual event is Fantastic Voyage, where kids circulate among five stations to learn about blood and other cells. At the microbiology table, kids saw staph, strep, E. coli and other bacteria in Petri dishes and viewed parasites through a microscope. At phlebotomy, kids learned about bloodwork.
NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak hosts a segment of NIH Jeopardy.
Many kids enjoyed playing interactive games. NIBIB had iPads set up for kids to play Want to Be a Bioengineer?
Many kids enjoyed playing interactive games. NIBIB had iPads set up for kids to play Want to Be a Bioengineer?
Kids excitedly listen to their heartbeat, courtesy of Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research and a cardiologist, who shared a 3-dimensional heart model and a bunch of stethoscopes.
Kids excitedly listen to their heartbeat, courtesy of Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research and a cardiologist, who shared a 3-dimensional heart model and a bunch of stethoscopes.
One of the most coveted events is the Clinical Center’s operating room, where the little apprentices put on scrubs and headed for surgery. They moved robotic arms to reach for paper clips and intubated a dummy patient.
Fitness instructor Ashley Kim led a session called POUND, during which each kid used a pair of drumsticks, adding rhythm to their workout.
Fitness instructor Ashley Kim led a session called POUND, during which each kid used a pair of drumsticks, adding rhythm to their workout.
Fitness instructor Ashley Kim led a session called POUND, during which each kid used a pair of drumsticks, adding rhythm to their workout.
An appreciative audience applauds NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (with his DNA-inscribed guitar named Rosalind). He sang about genes and “amazing DNA.”
Off campus, more than 100 kids participated in the NIDA-NIMH Brain Science Fair in the Neuroscience Research Center. The kids saw and touched preserved human and animal brains, viewed brain cells through microscopes and participated in other activities.
Mother Nature sent heavy rain that day, so Earth Day activities moved indoors to the Natcher Bldg. Kids and parents roamed the hallways, learning ways to conserve, compost and cultivate. Many kids posted promises to protect the environment on a Pledge Tree.

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