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LifeLab at Southampton University Hospital

March 27, 2017

Two Year 9 classes have been fortunate enough to get involved with LifeLab this term.  LifeLab was first initiated in 2008 at the University of Southampton. It has continued to develop through the collaboration of researchers from the University’s Education SchoolFaculty of Medicine, and the Mathematics and Science Learning Centre.  LifeLab draws on these researchers’ findings and combines them with research evidence from elsewhere to raise teenagers’ awareness and interest in the science underpinning health issues, and make positive changes to adolescent health-related attitudes.

The students begin with a few lessons in school, delivered by our own science teachers, encouraging them to think about various aspects of their own health and the choices they make that have an impact on this.  Having duly prepared for the practical day ahead, the students climb aboard the LifeLab coach and head for the hospital.  On arrival, following a brief introduction, they are let loose on a variety of medical equipment which allows them to measure various aspects of their own health.  An ultrasound machine allows them to visualise their own arterial blood flow whilst a blood pressure monitor gives them statistics on their blood pressure.  They all enjoyed the chance to prepare and stain a sample of their own DNA, and to run an electrophoresis on some pre-prepared samples.  Grip strength, flexibility, jump height and BMI was all measured using a variety of equipment, and they also found out about lung volume and air flow.

Three resusci-annies were present and James taught each student the basics of CPR, with the help of Vinnie Jones and son.  Who knew that the perfect tempo tune for CPR was “Staying Alive”!!

The students then got the chance to meet with three scientists – members of the University and Hospital Staff who give up their time to engage with our pupils.  These sessions are run in small groups of 6-8 pupils, allowing them to find out more about the various careers available, what they entail, and how these particular scientists began their careers.  The careers have ranged from an aeroplane engineer researching how to make jet engines quieter to a geneticist trying to find a treatment for prostate cancer.

The day culminates in a class discussion on what lifestyle choices impact on health, how this can affect them now and in the future and what influence this might have on the students’ own lifestyle choices.  They are then helped to make a health pledge, which we shall revisit at a later date to see whether they have managed to make any positive changes to their own lifestyle choices.

A huge thank you to Donna, James and Lisa for providing such an interesting and engaging addition to our science lessons.

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