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June 2, 2017
Kids Enjoy Learning at TYCTWD/Earth Day

NIH was teeming with kids on Apr. 27. They skipped across campus, hand in hand with parents and guardians, brimming with enthusiasm and curiosity. It was another successful Take Your Child to Work Day/Earth Day that enlightened bright, young minds about the many wonders of health and science.

Kids use stethoscopes to listen to each other’s hearts at the NIH Meet the Directors event.
Kids use stethoscopes to listen to each other’s hearts at the NIH Meet the Directors event.

Dozens of fun, educational activities both on and off campus kept the budding scientists engaged. Through arts and crafts, games, simulations and hands-on experiments, kids learned about anatomy, genetics, disease and the environment.

Little apprentices could be seen decked out in scrubs heading to the Clinical Center’s operating room to learn about robotic surgery. Others took a Fantastic Voyage, peering into petri dishes, vials and microscopes to learn about phlebotomy and microbiology. In the CC’s rehabilitation clinic, physical therapist Melissa Waite led balance and coordination exercises.

Diane Aker, a nurse in the CC’s bone marrow transplant unit, took her two daughters, Catherine, 10, and Mary, 12, to work that day. Mary said their favorite activity was touring the CC’s special clinical studies unit and seeing the protective gear staff wear while tending to highly infectious patients.

NIH’ers from just about every IC hosted creative activities throughout the day; even postdocs got involved. Hundreds of kids came by 7 tables of activities run by postdoctoral fellows along the CC’s 7th floor breezeway. These included information about DNA, the senses, bacteria, viruses and microbes. The fellows were as excited as the kids. “The fellows got a lot of teaching and mentoring experience, interacting with the kids,” said Erika Barr of the Office of Intramural Training and Education.

NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity Dr. Hannah Valantine (l), a cardiologist, talks with kids about the anatomy of the heart and echocardiograms; she also demonstrates cardiovascular catheterization on a model heart. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (c) sings a song about DNA. OD featured several new events including “Hacked,” which showed children what bad guys see when they compromise your computer. Another new activity was “Outrageous Ozobots,” in which children learned how to code their own mini robot. Youngsters also learned how white blood cells, or police of the body, fight robbers of their health and separated dyes from candy in a “Candy Chromatography” activity. More than 375 children participated in the various OD activities. youngsters adapt a ride-on toy car for a child with disabilities during the GoBabyGo workshop hosted by NICHD. The GoBabyGo lab at the University of Delaware, funded by NICHD, designs and modifies cars to get kids moving.
Meet the Directors. NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity Dr. Hannah Valantine (l), a cardiologist, talks with kids about the anatomy of the heart and echocardiograms; she also demonstrates cardiovascular catheterization on a model heart. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (c) sings a song about DNA. OD featured several new events including “Hacked,” which showed children what bad guys see when they compromise your computer. Another new activity was “Outrageous Ozobots,” in which children learned how to code their own mini robot. Youngsters also learned how white blood cells, or police of the body, fight robbers of their health and separated dyes from candy in a “Candy Chromatography” activity. More than 375 children participated in the various OD activities. PHOTOS: LISA HELFERT At right, youngsters adapt a ride-on toy car for a child with disabilities during the GoBabyGo workshop hosted by NICHD. The GoBabyGo lab at the University of Delaware, funded by NICHD, designs and modifies cars to get kids moving. PHOTO: MEREDITH DALY

At one station, kids built a mouse chromosome to determine its color. Using beads that represented genes, they learned about dominant and recessive genes.

“I told the kids it’s like making a cupcake of your favorite flavor,” said Lymarie Maldonado-Baez, an NINDS postdoc. “The steps of the recipe are the same, but the ingredients are different.”

Over in the Eye Clinic on the 10th floor, Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief of NEI’s consult services section, talked with a group of kids before they divided into smaller sections to tour the optical diagnostic and treatment labs. When she asked how we can protect our eyes from chemicals, machinery and sports injury, one kid exclaimed, “Dodge it?” to laughter. Others more seriously suggested goggles and helmets.

“You’ve been given this incredible body to keep healthy throughout your life,” Bishop said, “and your first job is to take care of yourself in every way you can.” They discussed how simple steps such as washing hands, eating right (including vitamin A and lutein, which promote healthy eyes), wearing sunglasses and sunscreen, exercising and getting enough sleep are important for eye and overall health.

in the CC’s Rehab Clinic, a youngster walks on a treadmill with a safety harness to simulate how patients learn to strengthen their legs and gait after injury Hanna Cho, 7, daughter of NIAID’s Dr. Hee-Jeong Yang, learns how stormwater runoff carries debris that pollutes the environment. Natalie Hash, 5, is trying to hold an adult brain, but the smell of formaldehyde is overpowering. Her dad, Ryan Hash, was with her at NICHD’s ‘Unpack the Brain,’ led by Archie Fobbs, a guest host from the Museum of Science and Medicine in Silver Spring.
At left, in the CC’s Rehab Clinic, a youngster walks on a treadmill with a safety harness to simulate how patients learn to strengthen their legs and gait after injury. Center, Hanna Cho, 7, daughter of NIAID’s Dr. Hee-Jeong Yang, learns how stormwater runoff carries debris that pollutes the environment. At right, Natalie Hash, 5, is trying to hold an adult brain, but the smell of formaldehyde is overpowering. Her dad, Ryan Hash, was with her at NICHD’s ‘Unpack the Brain,’ led by Archie Fobbs, a guest host from the Museum of Science and Medicine in Silver Spring.

PHOTOS: CHIA-CHI CHARLIE CHANG, MEREDITH DALY

In the diagnostics lab, NEI technician Dessie Koutsandreas let kids try out different gadgets and tests for eyesight, color, glare and depth perception. The Office of Disease Prevention’s Deborah Langer proudly watched her son Brent, age 9, try some of the tests. She wanted him to attend this session, she said, because his grandpa was an ophthalmologist and she wants Brent to learn about the profession.

“I like these types of small events where the kids can do lots of hands-on experiments,” Langer said. “There is just so long that kids this age can stay focused on one activity.”

Jonah Gillespie, age 13, helps test the safety seals of the positive pressure personnel protection suit in a BSL-4 laboratory. kids try out PiYo (pilates-yoga) class
At left, Jonah Gillespie, age 13, helps test the safety seals of the positive pressure personnel protection suit in a BSL-4 laboratory. At right, kids try out PiYo (pilates-yoga) class.

The day also featured larger, open activities where anyone could drop by without reserving a spot. On the Bldg. 31 patio, the NIH Police welcomed kids who petted Copper, a K-9 unit dog, tried on safety gear and ran through agility tests similar to the fitness tests NIH officers must pass before being hired.

On the Natcher and Bldg. 1 lawns, hundreds of kids and their parents stopped by Earth Day exhibits to learn about environmental threats such as pollution and climate change and ways each of us, big and small, can help protect the Earth by recycling, composting and conserving energy and water.

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for celebrating Earth and its resources. Some kids took a guided stroll to the NIH stream to learn about plants and wildlife. Outside Bldg. 1, youngsters visited an Audubon Society exhibit where they could pet a 30-year-old Russian tortoise, who kept his head poked out of his shell, seemingly unafraid of the small hands reaching for him. Other kids fearlessly held earthworms while learning about making compost.

MPO Brian Sims poses with a young man trying on riot gear. Kids stretch after a PiYo class in the NIH Fitness Center. a NIDA youngster looks through a microscope at NSC.
At left, MPO Brian Sims poses with a young man trying on riot gear. Center: Kids stretch after a PiYo class in the NIH Fitness Center. At right, a NIDA youngster looks through a microscope at NSC.

Kids also enjoyed the Summon the Rain exhibit, in which they poured colorful crystals representing trash, then sprayed water, onto an NIH Enviroscape 3-D model to see how rain carries pollutants into rivers and oceans and threatens sea life. “I learned that if you don’t throw trash away in the right place, the Earth can become like a big trash bin,” said 7-year-old Hanna Cho, daughter of NIAID’s Dr. Hee-Jeong Yang.

Back inside, in the Bldg. 31 basement, kids got a hands-on lesson in CPR from Juliann Egebrecht, director and coordinator of NIH’s Basic Life Support Training. Down the hall, in the gym’s group exercise room, parents watched through the window as their kids balanced and stretched in PiYo (pilates-yoga) and beat drumsticks.

By late afternoon, many of the youngsters were still bouncing around while their parents looked proud but exhausted. There’s a good chance adults and kids alike slept well that night.

Gallery

NEI technician Dessie Koutsandreas leads kids in a depth perception eye test.
NICHD Earth Day volunteers include (from l) Nicholas Johnson, Elena Ghanaim, Katherine Gillis, Debbie Clay, Mahua Mukhopadhyay, Zelia Worman, Ann (daughter of Ling Yi) and Ajay Sharma.
At Fantastic Voyage, a young girl learns from a phlebotomy technician that blood is drawn to help diagnose illness.
NIGMS director Dr. Jon Lorsch gets questions from a young interviewer.
Kids do timed balance tests in the CC's Rehab Clinic
All smiles in the BSL-4 training facility in Bldg. 41A as the staff give demos, set skill-testing tasks and introduce teens and NIH’ers alike to the world of BSL-4.
NEI’s Dessie Koutsandreas leads an eye chart-reading exercise in the diagnostic lab.
Kids line up to run the cones, one of the fitness tests NIH Police officers must take, at an event on the Bldg. 31 patio.
Dr. Lawrence Tabak, NIH principal deputy director, plays a game of Jeopardy with kids who chose from such categories as Healthy You, Strange Health Facts and NIH Trivia.
Estie, 12, whose mom, Laurie Torchinsky works at NIAAA, participates in the Breaking News workshop at NICHD, as a reporter for the day, interviewing NICHD’s Dr. Dennis Twombly about the effects of alcohol on the brain.
Jada Richards, 11, daughter of Latanya who works in the NIH Fitness Center, practices CPR compressions on a dummy.
“Have you ever had an ear infection?” asks DLM technologist Teresa Bauch in Fantastic Voyage, as she showed them the infection-causing bacteria in a petri dish.
A child listens to the heart of NIH deputy director for extramural research Dr. Michael Lauer.
Kids at NSC ask questions of NIDA’s “Dr. Sciencehead” Dr. Yu-Shan Hung in the lab of NICHD’s Mark Stopfer shows youngsters the fruit fly brain during the workshop, ‘What’s that smell? How insects help scientists understand our sense of smell.’

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