Honours Students Engage with Learners at “May Medical Madness” Workshops
A community engagement initiative piloted by Dr Saajida Mahomed, Public Health Medicine Specialist in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences saw B.Medical Science Honours students registered for the Research Methodology and Bioethics Module engage with learners from schools across the country participating in weekly online Eskom Expo Young Scientist workshops.
Under the theme of Medical May Madness, students from Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Medical Microbiology and Medical Biochemistry worked in groups to create videos of an overview of their research topics, and the relevance of their research to the public, highlighting the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
‘Educating young learners about research undertaken in university laboratories not only inspires them to pursue a career in medical sciences but also shows that the information they are learning is important when tackling medical issues and that science is an indispensable facet of our daily lives. We should strive for scientific progress as it improves our lives. All in all, it was an exceptional experience and I would be delighted if we were to do it again in our master’s next year,’ said Mr Lungelo Mthembu, who represented the Physiology group.
Four 60-minute online sessions were held during which the videos were presented. The range of topics included pulmonary hypertension and cannabis administration (human physiology), the apoptopic effects of a traditional African concoction (medical biochemistry), the effect of estrogen on HIV replication (medical microbiology) and comparative analyses of the brain and urinary system in humans and Sprague Dawley rats (human anatomy). The student videos were engaging and were very well received by the learners. The co-ordinators of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists provided positive feedback and indicated that they are keen to extend this initiative.
The students reported that they enjoyed this experience which was important for their training. It also highlighted that community engagement activities do not always require face-to-face meetings.
‘It was a challenge to make it fun and attractive for high school students; we ultimately focused on what we thought we would have liked to have heard when we were at that stage of our schooling career. The assignment made us realise the purpose and importance of community engagement, and we thank Dr Mahomed and everyone at Eskom for the opportunity,’ said Mr Sashendren Govender of the Medical Biochemistry group.
‘I appreciate the opportunity to present our study to high school learners, who probably haven’t heard much about medical science or human physiology. I hope it motivated them to look beyond what they already know and what is readily available on the Internet. We hope to see more young inquisitive minds investing their time in exploring the fascinating physiology of the human body, said Miss Wendy Mdluli.
Words: Lihle Sosibo