Greenville students expand education with mini-medical school (Photos)

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 11:00 am on Friday, February 01, 2013

Baldwin Heights Elementary fifth-graders Alex Johnson, 10, left, and Kaitlynn Mountney, 9, look at samples of human skin under microscopes. — Daily News/Cory Smith

GREENVILLE — A normal day for fifth-graders would include classroom lessons, having fun and being loud with friends while worrying about what was being served for lunch.

That was not the case on Thursday.

For fifth-grade students at Lincoln Heights, Baldwin Heights and Cedar Crest elementary schools, the students spent the day quietly focusing on “patients,” acting older than their age and worrying about who was performing the next surgery to save the “patient’s” life.

The third annual mini-medical school took place at Baldwin Heights Elementary School to help expand the students’ curriculum and introduce them to the medical field.

“This benefits the students in so many ways,” said Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Pete Haines. “It’s truly invaluable.”

This was the first year three of the four elementary schools were able to participate in the event. Because of the multi-aged curriculum at Walnut Hills Elementary, the students were unable to participate during this year’s event but hopes to next year, said Mindy Hepinstall, Baldwin Heights fifth-grade teacher who started the event three years ago.

Throughout the day, the students had three stations they participated in. In one station, students would present about the human body using their mobile one to one devices describing how to keep the bodies healthy and how they worked.

In the second station, the students would prep for surgery by getting dressed from head to toe in scrubs. Hepinstall purchased microscope slides that contained items such as kidney tissue, bone tissue and more for the students to examine while waiting to go into surgery.

The third station was the surgical stations. Students were placed into groups with Spectrum Health United Hospital employees who performed surgeries on “patients” that were made by students out of papier maché.

The hospital surgeons walked students through tasks such as removing body parts like a kidney, doing heart surgery and more. They also showed the students how to cut into the body and stitch it back up.



“The students are very pumped,” Hepinstall said of the event. “These students were in the third grade when they heard about the program the first time and have waited two years to be a part of it.”

Director of Surgical Services at Spectrum Health United Hospital Eric Nelson said Thursday went really well for mini-medical school.

“The kids love it,” Nelson said. “It gives them hands-on experience they can’t get even on their electronic devices.”

In order to make this program possible for the students, the hospital donates about 10 staff members to help educate the students about the medical field. The hospital also donates all of the scrubs, which the students get to keep, and real surgical tools so the students can really get the feel of what it’s like to be a surgeon.

“Spectrum Health is committed to community involvement,” Nelson said of partnering for the program, adding students need to get interested in health care at a young age.

The mini-medical school did just that for Baldwin Heights fifth-grader Amber Zimmerman, 10.

“I was going to be a teacher, but because of what we did today, I want to be a doctor,” Zimmerman said. “(The mini-medical school) was awesome.”

Fifth-grader Mariah Houck, 11, of Baldwin Heights, said she enjoyed learning how to perform CPR on the dummy.

“I enjoyed everything so far,” Houck said, noting she was waiting for her group to rotate in to perform surgery.

Although fifth-grader Tyler Kelly, 11, of Cedar Crest enjoyed seeing the human-body slides, he learned the most while being taught about CPR.

“I learned you don’t do mouth-to-mouth anymore,” Kelly said. “It’s important to get the blood moving so the person can use the oxygen in the blood.”

Hepinstall said she hopes the mini-medical school grows even more in the future.

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