The Karabots Junior Fellows Take a Closer Look at Eyes

Image of a Papier Mache Eye model on display at the Mütter Museum

Did you know that many eye disorders show no early warning signs? This is the reason it is important to receive regular eye examinations. This was just one of many important facts students in the fifth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program learned during a full day of activities devoted to the eye.

Dr. Michael DellaVecchia delivers a presentation on ophthalmology to students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program

For a professional perspective on the eye, they met with Michael DellaVecchia, MD, PhD, FACS, Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Jefferson University Hospitals and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Dr. DellaVecchia shared his years of experience as an ophthalmologist and screened shockingly informative videos of him performing several different eye procedures, including conducting cataract surgery (a procedure where a patient’s lens is replaced by an artificial one) and removing a parasitic worm a patient had the misfortune of bringing home from a humanitarian trip to Africa. He also demonstrated several different types of eye trauma he has encountered from patients over a long career.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program perform simple examinations on each other while wearing goggles that simulate the effects of glaucoma

After meeting with Dr. DellaVecchia, the students got the opportunity to assume the roles of ophthalmologists and eye patients. Trying on a variety of specialized goggles used to simulate the effects of three different conditions–cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration–the students performed simple eye examinations on each other. While one wore a specific pair of goggles, another student tested their distant, focused, and peripheral vision, recording their findings in order to draw conclusions on how these different conditions affect a person’s vision.

Three students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program dissect cow eyes

The students competed their closer “look” at the eye with a cow eye dissection. Guided by Museum Educator Marcy Engleman, they dissected a cow’s eye to gain a greater understanding of its structure and anatomy. After a long session, they left with a fresh perspective on how our eyes work and the importance of taking care of your eyes.

If you’re an educator or are just looking to learn more about the anatomy and pathology of the eye, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia has two lessons available to you via our online exhibit: Memento Mütter.



The Karabots Junior Fellows Study Teen Health

Official logo for Teen Health Week 2018

Longtime readers will recall that students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, as well as the Teva Internship and Out4STEM Programs, have been involved in Teen Health Week since its inception (see here and here). Created in 2016 as a joint program of the Center for Education (formerly the Center for Education and Public Initiatives), Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Teen Health Week is an annual event that seeks to raise awareness of the unique health issues facing teens. What began in 2016 as Pennsylvania Teen Health Week has rapidly expanded into a global health initiative.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program observe a slide presented by Dr. Laura Offutt as part of a lesson on teen health

Recently, the newest cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program met with Dr. Laura Offutt to talk about issues related to teen health and introduce them to the tenets of Teen Health Week. Dr. Offutt has a background in internal medicine, is a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and was the chief driving force behind the creation of Teen Health Week. She is  also the founder of Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, an accurate, judgment-free health resource for teens. Subjects she addressed with the class included myths surrounding hookah smoking, the dangers of texting and driving, and the risk of sexual assault on college campuses. Later in the semester, the students will help develop an informational toolkit for Teen Health Week 2018 related to mental health.

Teen Health Week 2018 will take place March 18-24, 2018. For more information about THW and how you can get involved, check out our official Teen Health Week website or follow #teenhealth2018 on Twitter or Instagram.

The Teva Interns Learn to Become Mighty Writers

A whiteboard with advice on finding one's authorial voice during a session on personal essay writing for the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program

We in the Center for Education are committed to helping students in our various youth programs prepare for their future academic and professional careers beyond high school. To that end, our students engage in a variety of activities related to career and college preparation.

A challenging aspect of any college application is trying to make yourself stand out in the eyes of college admissions boards. One notable tactic for making your application stand out among the thousands of applicants colleges and universities evaluate every year is an effective college essay. Writing a strong college essay is no easy task, so it is essential to give students the resources necessary to succeed.

Recently, students in the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program met with Carrie Hagan of Mighty Writers, an organization dedicated to helping Philadelphia school students strengthen and refine their writing and communication skills. Carrie taught them helpful techniques for taking a personal experience and gradually transforming that experience into an effective and memorable essay. These included starting with a single sentence and branching out from there, writing for ten minutes straight, and even acting out a personal experience with other students.

Students in the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program act out a scene.

These and other college prep activities are giving our students the opportunity to stand out among their peers.

Out4STEM at OutFest Philly 2017

Side-by-Side logos for Out4STEM (left) and OutFest Philly 2017 (right)

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day, a day for celebrating pride in people who identify as LGBTQIA and their allies and honoring the freedom for people to be their true selves.

This past Sunday, October 8, marked the 26th annual celebration of OutFest Philly. Coinciding with National Coming Out Day, OutFest Philly is a day-long celebration of LGBTQ+ pride and seeks to raise awareness of issues directly affecting the community. Among the numerous participating organizations, students in the Out4STEM Internship Program were on hand in the Gayborhood to take part in the festivities and raise awareness of the Program and health-related topics.

The Out4STEM Program aims to provide Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ youth with healthcare and STEM-oriented instruction, mentorship, academic support, and college/career preparation in an inclusive, safe space.

The Karabots Junior Fellows Challenge Banned Books

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program examine a set of challenged books on display at the Historical Medical Library

September 24-30, 2017, marked the most recent installment of Banned Books Week. Created in 1982 by the American Library Association (ALA), Banned Books Week calls attention to books that have been challenged or banned by local, state, or federal organizations (particularly libraries and schools), emphasizing the importance of free speech and expression. Described by the ALA as the ”annual celebration of the freedom to read,” Banned Books Week is held every year during the last week of September.

In celebration of Banned Books Week, the new cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows took their first trip to the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. There they met with Beth Lander and Caitlin Angelone, the Library’s College Librarian and Reference Librarian, respectively, who introduced them to the diverse materials the Historical Medical Library has to offer. During their visit, the students entered the library stacks, the climate-controlled space in which the College of Physicians’ vast collection of medical-related books and manuscripts are stored. In the spirit of Banned Books Week, they also viewed several books in the collection that have been challenged for various reasons, including books related to witchcraft and sexual health.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program meet with College Librarian Beth Lander during a tour of the Historical Medical Library

Following their trip to the Library, the students returned to the classroom to discuss the tenets of Banned Books Week. Youth Program Coordinator Kevin Impellizeri challenged them to consider the definitions of “censorship” and “obscenity” and critically examine why individuals or groups would attempt to challenge access to a particular book. They came to the conclusion that “objectionable material” is largely in the eye of the beholder, shaped by a wide variety of factors, including taste, cultural norms, and religious beliefs; as a result, there is no one shared standard for obscenity. They then applied what they learned by going through numerous influential books that have been challenged or banned, including the ALA’s 100 most challenged books of 2000-2009 and selected readings from the 2012 Library of Congress exhibit Books that Shaped America.