The Karabots Junior Fellows Get A Hands-On Look at Hearts

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows program hold up a sheep heart during a sheep heart dissection.

The American Heart Association recommends teens get about 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day to keep their hearts healthy. Also known as “cardio” or aerobic exercise, moderate to vigorous exercise raise your breathing and heart rate/ these include brisk walking, dancing, biking, and sports that involve running such as basketball and soccer.

Recently, students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program learned about body’s hardest working muscle. Museum Educator Marcy Engleman led them through a lesson on the heart, examining its structure and its role pumping blood throughout the body. Afterwards, she guided them through a sheep heart dissection, allowing them to apply their knowledge and gain a hands-on understanding of the heart’s anatomy.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program work together to dissect a sheep heart.

Dissection is a popular activity among our aspiring healthcare professionals and regular readers will recall we have covered dissections in the past. This particular cohort is no stranger to dissection, having examined cow eyes and sheep brains during their short time in the program. As many in this group has expressed interest in surgery, these activities offer them a promising start in their journey toward their future careers.

 

The Karabots Junior Fellows Examine Fingerprints

A student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program dusts for fingerprints

At the Center for Education of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, we pride ourselves on introducing students in our youth programs to diverse career paths in healthcare, medicine, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). We feel it is a testament to our educational model when our students feel invested enough in the program to recommend topics to us. Recently, by popular demand, we hosted a session on forensic science for the sixth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program.

For the uninitiated, forensic science is the application of science as it pertains to the law and encompasses such diverse fields as forensic pathology, forensic anthropology, forensic psychology, odontology, entomology, and toxicology. Longtime readers will recall forensics has been a popular subject in our youth programs. In 2016, students in the fourth cohort developed tabletop games to teach the public about concepts in forensics.

Last month, we invited forensics expert Kimberlee Moran to meet with our students and introduce them to fingerprinting. Moran is an associate teaching professor of forensics at Rutgers-Camden.  Her areas of expertise include archaeology, forensic science, crime scene investigation, and fingerprint analysis. She is also the director of the Arch Street Project, a project in conjunction with the Mütter Research Institute to identify, catalog, study and relocate recently discovered human remains discovered at the former site of the First Baptist Church.

Two students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program examine fingerprints

During her session with the Karabots students, Moran introduced the kids to basic principles in fingerprint analysis. This involved examining the most common types of fingerprints and ways forensic investigators identify and analyze fingerprint evidence. The students also got the chance to put these ideas into practice by lifting and examining their own fingerprints.

The Karabots Junior Fellows Study Addiction

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows program examine planarians in petri dishes.

Teen Health Week℠ (April 6-12, 2020) is a week devoted to raising awareness of the unique health issues facing teens. Among the core themes of Teen Health Week℠ is Substance Use and Misuse, addressing the impact of various substances on teens and how overuse or misuse can lead to addiction. One of our key goals in The Center for Education of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is to address the themes of Teen Health Week with the students in our youth programs and give them the tools to help make healthy life choices that will benefit them through their entire lives.

Recently, the students of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program met with Helene Khalid, PhD, an expert in studying substance use and addiction. Dr. Khalid is a clinical postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Substance Abuse Research at Temple University School of Medicine, where she and her colleagues are examining the physiological effects of substance use. Dr. Khalid shared her research with our students and explained to them the impact of different chemicals on the brain and how different substances such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and opioids can lead to dependency and addiction. For example, opioids trigger a rush of dopamine in the brain, resulting in a feeling of euphoria. Prolonged usage causes people to develop a tolerance to the substance, requiring higher doses to trigger the same effect as their initial exposure. This continuous use and growing chemical tolerance can lead to a chemical dependency.

More than telling them about these concepts, Dr. Khalid allowed the Junior Fellows to apply their newfound knowledge for themselves. Breaking them into small groups, the students conducted experiments on planarians, a species of flatworm that are commonly used in scientific testing. Each student received a planarian, exposed it to different levels of substances, and monitored its reaction. The substances they tested included caffeine and sugar, and different concentrations of these substances triggered different reactions. As they exposed their subjects to different chemical levels, Dr. Khalid challenged them to predict how the planarians would react based on their observations and test their predictions through experimentation and observation.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows program examine planarians in petri dishes.

For more information on Teen Health Week℠, including educational resources and ways to get involved, check out our website and follow us on Instagram (@teenhealthweek).

Mixed Signals: A New Exhibit at the Mütter Museum

Main exhibit label for Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer

If you haven’t visited The Mütter Museum in a while, this fall is a nice time for a return to The Birthplace of American Medicine. On October 17, 2019, The Mütter Museum unveiled Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia, a large new exhibit examining the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, how it affected Philadelphians, and the ways the deadliest outbreak in human history influenced public health to this day.

This month, students in the The Karabots Junior Fellows program made their own addition to the Museum. Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer offers Museum visitors an overview of cancer, how cancer behaves, various ways it is treated, and ways you can help reduce your risk. The exhibit was a joint program between The Center for Education of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and Swarthmore College and was made possible through a grant from The National Science Foundation.

It was the product of a year’s worth of careful planning and meticulous research by students in the fifth cohort of The Karabots Junior Fellows program. We have covered the exploits of the Karabots students numerous times here. For the uninitiated, The Karabots Junior Fellows Program is a three-year after-school and summer internship program for Philadelphia high school students from underserved communities with an interest in pursuing careers in healthcare, medicine, and science.

The project began in August 2018 with an intensive two-week summer program where the students built up their knowledge of cancer and cell signaling. Brad Davidson, Associate Professor of developmental biology at Swarthmore, and his student assistant, Allie Naganuma, taught our students how cells grow and develop by sending and receiving signals. If these signals are disrupted through mutations, cellular miscommunication can lead to an overgrowth of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells build up over time to form tumors. If they are not detected and treated early, these growths can affect how the body works, eventually spreading to other parts of the body and adversely affecting a person’s health. The Karabots students also met with experts in a variety of related fields, including cancer biology, pathology, and treatment; biomedical research; hospice and palliative care; physical therapy; and mental health. Their work over the summer gave them the necessary tools to tackle such a complex subject and apply their knowledge to and share what they learned with others.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program take part in an activity about cancer biology by assembling walls made of Legos

When the students met for their weekly sessions for the 2018-2019 school year, we divided them into two teams: Exhibit and Outreach. The exhibit team worked together to select materials from The College’s collection, including biological specimens and medical tools as well as physical and digital objects from the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Over the course of the school year, they conducted research, drafted labels, and worked with professional exhibit designer Jordan Klein to bring their exhibit to life. The culmination of all their hard work was Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer, which officially opened to the public on November 5, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Outreach team was hard at work distilling what they learned into a lesson designed to teach middle school students about cancer. Together they developed a presentation, created and tested interactive activities, and crafted a lesson plan. In Summer 2019, two of our students–Lamina and Chaka–traveled to Swarthmore to deliver their lesson to a middle school youth program. They also had the opportunity to mentor the newest cohort of Karabots Junior Fellows, delivering their cancer lesson to the new students later in the summer. The lesson, also called Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer, is currently available to visiting field trips to The Mütter Museum (book your field trip today).

Lamina and Chaka, students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, deliver a lesson on cancer to students in the latest cohort in the program

Our students learned a great deal along the way. In addition to applying their medical learning, they strengthened their aptitude in valuable skills they can apply to any future career they pursue, including collaboration, independent study, and oral and written communications skills.

If you are thinking of visiting the Mütter Museum again or for the first time, be sure to see our new exhibits.

Philly 9th Graders: Join the Karabots Junior Fellows Program!

Two students from the Karabots Junior Fellows Program experiment with a Laënnec stethoscope

Are you a Philly 9th grader with an interest in health care or medicine? Are you a Philadelphia public or charter school teacher or counselor who knows 9th graders who are interested in careers in medicine?

The Center for Education of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is now accepting applications for the Summer 2019 installment of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program.

Founded in 2009, the Karabots Junior Fellows Program is for Philadelphia high school students interested in pursuing careers in medicine. Through hands-on activities, innovative educational programming, interactions with healthcare professionals, and engagements through the unique resources of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (including the world-renowned Mütter Museum and the Historical Medical Library), the Program introduces students to the diverse fields available in healthcare and medicine. It also empowers students to take charge of their health and encourage healthy lifestyle choices for their families and their communities.

Students in the KArabots Junior Fellows Program monitor each other's blood pressure at Drexel University's Physical Therapy Lab

The next summer program will take place August 12-23, 2019. This year’s theme is “Defeating Disease,” focusing on the biology, treatment, and response to infectious disease from a variety of scientific, medical, and historical perspectives.

Participants may also have the possibility to stay for a multi-year after-school program focused on healthcare, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), academic and career advisement, and college preparation that goes through twelfth grade.

Students interested in joining the Karabots Junior Fellows Program must fulfill the following requirements:

  • They must be entering the 10th grade in Fall 2019.
  • They must be a Philadelphia resident.
  • They must be attending a Philadelphia public or charter high school.
  • They must have an interest in biology and the healthcare professions.
  • They will be the first in their immediate family to graduate from a college or university.
  • They must qualify for a FREE or REDUCED PRICE school lunch.
  • They may not have any disciplinary problems on their school record.
  • They must have permission from a parent/guardian to take part in the program.
  • They must be prepared to provide a work permit if they are brought in for an interview (more information on obtaining a work permit).

The Karabots Junior Fellows take part in a yoga demonstration led by Laura Baehr

Interested students can complete our online application form. The application must include the name and contact information of an adult supporter (parent, guardian, or adult over the age of 18 willing to vouch for the student), a reference from a teacher or counselor, and a brief personal statement in the form of an essay, video, or audio clip. The deadline to apply is 11:59PM on Friday, May 31, 2019.

To learn more about the program, please consult our website or check out our FAQ. Direct all inquiries to Kevin D. Impellizeri, Assistant Director of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program (email: kimpellizeri@collegeofphysicians.org; phone: 215-372-7313).

 

A Disturbingly Informative Trip to the Woodlands Cemetery

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrate specimens to attendees of the Halloween Family Fun Day event at the Woodlands Cemetery

On October 21, students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program traveled to the Woodlands to give visitors a small glimpse into the interesting and surprising specimens and objects in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s vast collection. Longtime readers will recall the Woodlands is a common field trip location for students in the Karabots Program and representatives of the Mütter Museum, including Karabots students, have participated in numerous events hosted by the Woodlands.

A group photo of students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program in the Hamilton mansion at the Woodlands Cemetery

Established as the country home of Philadelphia socialite William Hamilton, the Woodlands became an active cemetery in 1840; it is the final resting place of numerous noteworthy Philadelphians, including several Fellows of the College of Physicians, such as Silas Weir Mitchell, John Ashhurst, and William Williams Keen, and the founder of the Campbells Soup Company among other notables. It is also the site of the largest grave marker in the United States, an 84-foot tall obelisk constructed for famous dentist and Penn Dental school founder Thomas Wiltberger Evans.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrate specimens to attendees of the Halloween Family Fun Day event at the Woodlands Cemetery

Our students were on-site as part of the Woodlands annual Halloween Family Fun Day, where visitors come to the historic rural cemetery to take part in fun activities. Visitors of all ages came dressed in costumes for Halloween and there was even a pet costume contest in which a dog dressed as a pumpkin took the grand prize. Our students spent the afternoon in the Hamilton Mansion demonstrating “Mini Mütter,” a sampling of the unique items on display at the Mütter Museum. The Junior Fellows displayed such items as anatomical models, replicas of bones and museum specimens (such as an arm with smallpox and a foot with elephantiasis), preserved brain slides, and a collection of Civil War medical tools. Several students even led anatomy-themed games, challenging visitors to identify bones, label pieces of the heart, and demonstrate using different parts of their brain. Our students acted as great ambassadors for the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, showed off their knowledge, and honed their public speaking skills. Just as important, they introduced people young and old to the amazing collections available at the Mütter Museum and offered insights into medicine and human anatomy.

The Karabots Junior Fellows Visit the Karabots Center

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program pose in front of a plaque devoted to Nicholas and Athena Karabots at the CHOP Karabots Pediatric Care Center

Frequent readers will know we strongly believe in bringing students in our youth programs to the places where healthcare and science take place. Last week, the students in the fifth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program visited the Karabots Pediatric Care Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Observant readers will notice the Center shares its name with our program, as both were made possible through generous contributions from Nicholas and Athena Karabots and the Karabots Foundation. While at the Center, our students toured their facilities and met with members of their dedicated healthcare staff.

Opened in 2013, and located in West Philadelphia, the Karabots Center offers a host of different healthcare and outreach services for communities in West Philadelphia and beyond. In addition to a variety of health services, the Center offers community health and wellness programs, assisting in such capacities as literacy, education for new mothers, asthma prevention, homeless assistance, support for victims of domestic violence. Their facilities see roughly 60,000 patients per year.

During their visit, they met with Tyra Bryant-Stephens, MD, a renowned specialist in childhood asthma. Dr. Bryant-Stephens is the founder and Medical Director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP) at CHOP. She shared her personal journey, her work in asthma prevention, as well as some health and wellness tips. They also met with Andrea Bailer, MSN, CRNP, one of their experienced pediatric nurses who talked about her personal and professional experience.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program interact with a medical interpreter on a scree at the CHOP Karabots Pediatric Care Center

The students were excited to briefly tour the Center’s medical facilities. They also got to visit their community garden. Maintained by members of the West Philadelphia community, the garden produces healthy fruit, vegetables, and herbs for patients and families in the Healthy Weight Program. In 2016, the garden yielded roughly 1,000 pounds of herbs and vegetables.

We are thankful for CHOP opening their doors and sharing their wonderful work with our students.