Author: Christy Groves
February 20th, 2018 – Tuesday marked another exciting day for grades 4 to 6 students from Dundas Central Public School, Hamilton.
Hosted by the Let’s Talk Science outreach program in collaboration with McMaster Children & Youth University (MCYU) and the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), over 100 students took an eventful field trip to McMaster’s Burke Science Building to learn about the human immune system, pathogens, and disease.
The event began with a lecture entitled “Who Has More Cooties – Boys Or Girls? (spoiler: there’s no difference!)” delivered by McMaster professor and IIDR principal investigator Dr Dawn Bowdish. Dr Bowdish was accompanied by Dundas Central teachers Mr Bell, Mr Varady, and Mr Gardner, who aided her presentation about pathogen diversity with a comical yet educational performance as “good”,“bad”, and “sneaky” microbes (watch the full sketch below). Following Dr Bowdish’s lecture and a number of fantastic questions, students participated in three exciting activities led by Let’s Talk Science, IIDR, and parent and teacher volunteers.
First, the children were assigned the role of either a macrophage, killer T-cell, helper T-cell, or epithelial cell to learn about how viruses evade the bodies immune system – an activity that consisted of the construction of paper airplanes, colourful flags, and a whole lot of laughter. In another activity, students simulated the spread of a simple imaginary disease by exchanging colourful test tube contents with one another to learn about contagion and vaccination. Finally, the kids were encouraged to “build their own bacteria”, using a number of crafts in innovative ways after learning all about the different parts of a cell.
By the end of the day, the children left campus knowledgable about the workings of the bodies’ immune system, vaccination, and disease.
A special thanks to Dr Dawn Bowdish and her IIDR volunteers Haley and Emily from Dr. Gerry Wright’s lab, the Dundas Central teacher and parent volunteers, McMaster Children & Youth University (MCYU), and the Hamilton Let’s Talk Science outreach program for supporting such innovative and educational initiatives to children in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Let’s Talk Science is a student-led, national education and outreach organization that creates and delivers free hands-on programs to engage preschool to grade 12 students in STEM. Learn more about the Let’s Talk Science outreach program at McMaster University here.