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Students Have Hands-On STEM Experience
TOPICS & CATEGORIES
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
While the majority of the focus for Team Orlando members is on leveraging each other’s work with the goal of improving human performance through simulation, there is a significant amount of time and effort they commit to stimulating the minds of young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Dr. Haru Okuda, the National Medical Director for the VHA’s Simulation Learning Education and Research Network (SimLEARN) Program, enlists a volunteer to show how an ultrasound machine works in training healthcare workers.
In today’s climate with the daily advancements in the scientific and technological innovations, it becomes even more important to encourage students to develop their talents and interests in the STEM fields. Advocates believe STEM is the key to future careers, and if there isn’t an increase in the current rate of STEM graduates, there will certainly be a shortage of qualified workers to fill future positions.
In an effort to help show students that STEM careers branch out far beyond what they have etched in their minds, and get them excited about all the possibilities, representatives from the Army Research Laboratory-Human Research and Engineering Directorate, Simulation and Training Technology Center and the Veterans Administration Simulation Learning, Education and Research Network (SimLEARN) took part in a hands-on, interactive simulation symposium.
Dr. Malcolm Klein, Chief of the Anesthesia Department at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, shows a student one of the airway simulated trainers used in the VHA’s SimLEARN program.
The event, “Simulation: Evolutionary Past, Boundless Future” was presented in partnership by the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida and the National Center for Simulation on Sept. 30. More than 400 high school and middle school students from areas throughout Florida attended.
Jack Norfleet, Chief Engineer for the Medical Simulation Research branch at the Army Research Laboratory Simulation and Training Technology Center (ARL STTC), and his team, were part of the Healthcare Interactive Session. Here they were able to show students a few of the many projects currently underway at the STTC, including a medical hologram, an educational mobile card game, and some research and development they are supporting focused on delivering the highest fidelity upper respiratory training system.
“It was a great opportunity for our team to share with the students and let them experience how a STEM-related education can be applied outside of what they may consider as traditional,” Norfleet said. “The students were very engaged in what we had to say and I enjoyed the interaction with them as well.”
Dr. Christine Allen, Science and Technology Manager and also with ARL STTC, spent most of the sessions demonstrating the Combat Medic Card Game, developed by the STTC in partnership with the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training. The game is made for mobile devices, is easily transportable, and combat medics can use it after duty hours and during mission lulls to refresh critical life-saving skills.
“The students brought so much energy to the session and were genuinely interested in how and why we were developing these products,” Allen said. “Showing them firsthand some of the areas where they can apply a future education in STEM and getting them excited about it was our main thrust in taking part in this event.”
Simultaneously in the healthcare session, VA SimLEARN team members set up multiple environments for demonstrations and to enable visiting students to “practice” simulated medical procedures. Dr. Haru Okuda, National Medical Director, VHA, SimLEARN, was part of the team who participated in the symposium, and enjoys the opportunity to share the hands-on opportunity with young, eager students.
“It was very exciting to have the opportunity to interact with this group of interested high school and middle school students,” Okuda said. “They all got the ‘hands-on’ experience for using various, state-of-the-art, modeling and simulation–based clinical training tools used within Veterans Health Administration for improving workforce skills in providing health care to our Veteran patients. They eagerly participated in drills for difficult airway intubations, central line placements, resuscitation, laparoscopic surgery and high-fidelity mannequin operations.”
“The Lou Frey Institute, University of Central Florida, and supporting partners provided a well-organized and executed event that captivated over 430 students from over 13 area high schools and middle schools,” said Harry Robinson, National Program Manager, SimLEARN. “The SimLEARN faculty and staff were grateful for the opportunity to join the team in showcasing several simulation-based training modalities that are fundamentally changing and improving clinical health care training.
“The medical domain is quickly moving over the precipice to increase training efficiency through simulation while maintaining the high standards historically achieved through on-the-job training, Robinson said. “Our student attendees certainly seemed enthused and enjoyed the chance to learn more about their future prospects in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).”
Students in attendance at “Simulation: Evolutionary Past, Boundless Future” also participated in interactive sessions in the areas of DoD Training and Simulation, Education and Training, Modeling and Engineering Analysis, and Entertainment. This was the 22nd symposium in the Lou Frey Institute series, which features two per year, but the first time organizers have incorporated hands-on sessions with the students.
“It was at the suggestion of Lou Frey that National Center for Simulation (NCS) partner with the Institute and pursue a symposium focused on simulation,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom Baptiste, President/Executive Director for NCS. “NCS is celebrating our 20th anniversary in the spring and Lou felt this event would be a great way to kick off that occasion, and from there we received great support and encouragement from the MS&T community.”
“Growing from its roots in military training, the region’s MS&T industry today contributes to many diverse fields,” Baptiste added. “When we can show students how a STEM-focused education can open doors in many areas of interest, we not only get them excited about the possibilities, we help to grow the much-needed STEM workforce of the future.”
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