UTMB recently welcomed the Lego Blasters, the Peace Signs, the Lego Guys, the Lego Storms, and the Whale Warriors — five LEGO League teams from Trinity Episcopal Grade School. The kindergarterners through third graders took a field trip to UTMB to learn about biomedical engineering as part of their participation in FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a non-profit organization devoted to inspire students in engineering and technology.
FIRST was founded by engineer and inventor, Dean Kamen, who hosts the TV show, "Dean of Invention," where he investigates emerging technologies being developed to tackle the most daunting global challenges of today. The organization promotes a philosophy of teamwork and collaboration that encourages competing teams to remain friendly, helping each other out when necessary using, gracious professionalism, a term he coined that describes a code of respect towards one's competitors and integrity in one's actions.
FIRST paired with LEGO’s to create an international competition for age-matched teams, ranging in age from grade school to high school, who are given a specific technological challenge. This year's theme was biomedical engineering with the accompanying challenge to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the bodies potential with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.
The five teams came to UTMB to see innovation and technology first hand. Their first stop was in the Telemedicine Department
. Dr. Carlos Clark showed the teams how a patient can be examined from far away when they do not have access to medical care. The children were amazed at how well they could see the patient’s tonsils over the telemonitor.
The second stop was in the Endoscopy Suite in the UTMB Clinical Sciences Building, where Dr. Gurinder Luthra, from UTMB's Department of Gastroenterology, showed the children what an upper endoscope looks like. Each of the children had a turn in operating the flexible scope, which created much enthusiasm among the group.
The final stop was in the simulation room at Rebecca Sealy, where Dr. Ronald Levy, UTMB's Department of Anesthesiology
, introduced the children to “Stan” the simulation mannequin. The group was able to feel a pulse and correlate it with an EKG monitor, listen to heart sounds and take blood pressures. They also learned about the rise and fall of the chest during respiration, and how medical staff are trained to save a life when respiration stops (CPR).