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Museum Of Science And Industry To Launch World's First Whole-Classroom Virtual Medical Lab On National Stem Day

CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- On National STEM Day, November 8, 2019, the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) will launch the world's first whole-classroom simulated medical science lab, MedLab, to celebrate the "M" in STEM as the institution defines it – science, technology, engineering and medicine.

MedLab was developed by a team of Museum experts including Dr. Patricia Ward, MSI director of science exhibitions and partnerships, who holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Chicago. MSI collaborated with an advisory committee of medical professionals to create the most-authentic, real-world experience.

"We hope that exposing teachers to virtual tools like MedLab can empower to cultivate a lifelong curiosity in their students towards medical and scientific careers in improving health," said MedLab Advisory Committee member Dr. Vineet Arora, assistant dean for scholarship and discovery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Using cutting-edge technology and programming, students work as a classroom and take on the role of medical interns, working alongside a virtual doctor to meet their patient, make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Together, students participate in dynamic hands-on programming including:

  • Using innovative touchscreen activities, such as simulating the scanning of a virtual patient during an MRI.
  • Reviewing symptoms and family history.
  • Conducting virtual tests like taking a pulse, testing spinal fluid and examining blood cells.
  • Making a diagnosis of lead poisoning, viral meningitis or tuberculosis, and selecting a treatment course.
  • Discovering careers in the field that directly correlate with each component
    of the program.

"Since its foundation, MSI has always been a world leader in science education, continuing to be ahead of the curve in introducing complex ideas into the minds of young students," said MSI President and CEO David Mosena. "The Museum is proud to debut MedLab to introduce the next generation of digital learners to the future of hands-on, interactive learning."  

MedLab is the largest free teacher resource created by the Museum and joins a robust suite of educational digital experiences and materials designed by the institution.

The Classroom Experience 
Throughout the program, each test links to careers in the healthcare field that directly correlate to the tasks at hand including a physician assistant, radiologist and clinical microbiologist. One of the primary goals of MedLab is to introduce a variety of careers to students who are curious about jobs in medicine. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is projected to add over 4 million jobs, more than any other industry, by the end of 2022.

MedLab was piloted at more than a dozen schools in the Chicagoland area, including Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine – a medicine-focused Chicago Public School high school – on Chicago's South Side.

"MedLab helps prepare my students for what's to come; it sets their career trajectory on a whole new level, as it gives them skills sets to help navigate their world," said Williams Prep teacher De'Meica Mathews. "It's more than just a virtual lab, it's a hands-on experience. The program walks you through a medical setting and what to expect, teaches you communication skills, and shows you the intake process, how to properly assess a patient and selecting treatment plans."

With teacher usability at the forefront, MedLab removes common barriers in teaching quality science education including:

  • Cost: The application is completely free with signup.
  • Download: No downloading necessary for classrooms with restrictions on installing programs.
  • Easy to use: Teachers can adapt and adjust the program to various learning levels based on student experience.

MSI's Dedication to Advancing Education in Medicine
Through the Museum's Welcome to Science Initiative, 700,000 students and students participate in on- and off-site science education programming every year. MedLab was designed to push that number further by offering free educational resources available anywhere in the world.

The program was funded as part of the SIMLAB grant awarded to MSI through a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health. The grant funded the creation of three on-site medical and one virtual lab. The grant also funded programming for iStan, a state-of-the-art Human Patient Simulator. iStan, for "Standard Man," is part of the Museum's medical innovations area of the YOU! The Experience exhibit. This computer-controlled, full-sized mannequin is normally used to train medical and nursing students in a hospital setting, and he has also guest-starred on episodes of ER and Grey's Anatomy.

Since their debut in 2014, the onsite MedLab programs have seen more than 12,000 students in programming consisting of:

  • MedLab: Asthma: Diagnose asthma as you work with a human patient simulator and analyze cells with a microscope. 
  • MedLab: Diabetes: Use authentic hospital lab equipment and work with a human patient simulator to diagnose diabetes.
  • MedLab: Heart Disease: Use an ultrasound simulator and complete real medical tests to diagnose heart disease in a human patient simulator. 

MSI has also received a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to study what students learn in MedLab and how it relates to their cultural background and ethnic identity.

About The Welcome to Science Initiative
The Welcome to Science Initiative helps children achieve their full potential in science by creating learning experiences inside and outside the classroom, and removing barriers that exclude them from participating. Our unique youth-centered approach supports students and everyone involved in their success—families, educators, schools and communities. Program strategies focus on improving the quality of science teaching in schools; connecting science to children wherever they are; and showcasing diversity in STEM fields. We place a priority on serving schools and neighborhoods with predominantly low-income student populations. Learn more at  msichicago.org/welcometoscience.

About MSI
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), one of the largest science museums in the world, offers world-class and uniquely interactive experiences that inspire inventive genius and foster curiosity. From groundbreaking and award-winning exhibits that can't be found anywhere else, to hands-on opportunities that make you the scientist—a visit to MSI is where fun and learning mix. Through its Welcome to Science Initiative, the Museum offers a variety of student, teacher and family educational programs that make a difference in communities and contribute to MSI's larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. The Museum is exceptionally grateful for the support of its donors and guests, who make its work possible. MSI is also supported in part by the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414. 

Contact:
Stephanie Cavazos; stephanie.cavazos@msichicago.org; (773) 947-3133
Julie Parente; julie.parente@msichicago.org; (773) 753-6249

 

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SOURCE Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago