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Students learn by becoming healthcare providers

At left: Christine Dickerson plays the role of patient as seventh graders
diagnose her. Above: Dr. Michael Glowacki takes a picture of the students
who were his doctors and residents.  They diagnosed him with diabetes.

The Skaneateles Middle School library turned into hospital recently so that seventh graders could test their knowledge of the endocrine system by pretending they were doctors, residents and interns. A magnificent group of volunteers (including staff, parents, and high school students) became the patients.
This annual program helps give seventh grade science students had hands-on lessons about the endocrine system, which they have been studying in class.  Wearing white lab coats and donning stethoscopes around their necks, the students worked to diagnose symptoms of patients.
The volunteer “patients” had various endocrine-related diseases – from diabetes to narcolepsy – and really got into their parts as the students worked to diagnose them.
Patients complained about their aches and pains and troubles as students worked hard to interview and diagnose.
Library media specialist Sharon O’Connell and science teacher Lisa Kerr got the idea for the annual project when they attended a middle school conference and came across a teacher who was doing a similar assignment with her class.
While Kerr takes care of the classroom preparation – teaching the lessons and forming the groups – O’Connell organizes things in the library, from setting up the space as a hospital to finding people to serve as patients.
O’Connell said the students use online resources, such as Mayo Clinic and WebMD, to research symptoms and treatment during the exercise.
While the students get a science lesson and learn about research, Kerr said they also learn a life lesson about responsibility and cooperation. Working in a team is something they do all year in Kerr’s classroom before they put it into practice in a real-life scenario through the project.
“The experience is a really great one for the kids,” she said. “They’re held accountable to their team. That’s one of the most important aspects of my job as a science teacher – getting the kids to work with one another and work with a team.”
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Lynda Quick
45 East Elizabeth Street
Skaneateles, NY 13152