The Karabots Junior Fellows Test a Game About How HIV Spreads

A student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program plays CD4 Hunter, a mobile game about how HIV infects a healthy cell, on an iPad

Regular readers will know we frequently utilize games and game-based learning to create unique and memorable learning experiences for our students. Last year, our fourth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program playtested The Pox Hunter, a game about convincing Philadelphians in the early 18th century the importance of vaccines. They also designed their own forensic science themed board and card games, learned about the spread of disease by playing Pandemic 2, honed their powers of observation by taking part in a room escape, and tested their mental might with a series of thematic review games. Our fifth and most recent cohort has continued the legacy set forth by their predecessors, recently assisting Drexel University researchers playtest a game about how HIV infects health cells.

CD4 Hunter is a microbiology-themed mobile game currently under development by the Center for Business and Program Development of Drexel University’s Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. It cast the player in the role of an HIV virus. The player’s goal is to infect healthy cells in order to spread create more virus cells while resisting antibiotics. IMMID developed the game to instruct the public by means of game-based learning on how HIV spreads in the body.

Under the guidance of Mary Ann Comunale, EDD, MS, who helps oversee the project, students started with a brief questionnaire to gauge their knowledge of HIV transmission and serve as a means of measuring what they learned by playing the game. Then they paired up with iPads or on their phones and played CD4 Hunter. As they played, they wrote down their thoughts on every aspect of the game, including visuals, sound, controls, how effected it conveyed its message, and (of course) fun. Students competed for high scores, with the top scorers earning a Dunkin Donuts gift card for their efforts. Dr. Comunale followed their play session with another questionnaire to gauge how much they learned about the subject while playing the game. Everyone gave useful feedback and many of them downloaded the game on their phones to play later. Afterwards, the Fellows met with a panel of three graduate students specializing in epidemiology, virology, and vaccines, who shared insights into their research and life in graduate school.

Two students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program play CD4 Hunter, a mobile game about how HIV infects a healthy cell, on an iPad

If you’d like to try CD4 Hunter for yourself, it is currently available for free on Apple iTunes and Google Play.


Poison Control Experts Challenge the Karabots Junior Fellows

Students in the Krabots Junior Fellows Program speak with Robb Bassett, Interim Director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Challenge videos are all the rage on YouTube, from the “Cinnamon Challenge” (where one tries to eat a tablespoon of cinnamon without any liquid) to the “Chubby Bunny Challenge” (where a person tries to stuff as many marshmallows into their mouth and say, “Chubby Bunny”) to the “Ghost Pepper Challenge” (where a person eats a ghost pepper, one of the spiciest peppers on Earth). Searches on YouTube will find a plethora of videos of these and similar challenges, with different YouTubers competing to create the most audacious or entertaining video.

Recently students in the Karabots Junior Fellows learned about the potential health risks of these challenges from a pair of experts. Robb Bassett, DO, FAAEM, FCPP and Steven Walsh, MD, who, in addition to serving as Fellows of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, are both experts when it comes to medical emergencies. Dr. Bassett is the interim Medical Director of the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while Dr. Walsh is the attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Einstein Medical Center. The pair took the students through several popular YouTube challenges, explaining their possible health risks. For example, the Cinnamon Challenge, according to a 2013 report in the medical journal Pediatrics, can cause aspiration, pulmonary inflammation or even permanent respiratory damage; the effects can be exacerbated in people with asthma.

Robb Bassett, Interim Director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, shows a PowerPoint slide on counterfeit drugs to students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program

They used this as a way to segue into a talk about the risks of counterfeit recreational or prescription drugs. Did you know that, when formed into a pill, rat poison can be made to resemble prescription painkillers like Oxycontin? Bassett and Walsh explained the hazards of counterfeit drugs, while the students asked them a variety of questions related to their fields, YouTube challenges, and the ethics of treating different kinds of patients in emergency situations. Overall it was an engaging talk where many of the students shared their opinions and gained new knowledge.

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 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.



The Karabots Junior Fellows Prepare for College

STudents in the KArabots Junior Fellows Program attend a workshop on the college application process

One of the core goals of our youth programs at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is to help Philadelphia high school students from underserved communities navigate the college application process. Groups affected by violence, discrimination, or economic hardships often face numerous obstacles to academic achievement. Moreover, many of our students in the Girls One Diaspora Club, the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, the Out4STEM Program, and the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship will be the first in their families to attend college. Preparing for college can be an intimidating and overwhelming endeavor, even in families with adequate resources and minimal socioeconomic obstacles, and it is our goal to help demystify the process through a series of hands-on workshops.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program attend a workshop on college financial aid held at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Currently the fourth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, who are now high school seniors, is immersed in the college application process. To help them, the Center for Education has hosted college prep workshops for them and their families; these lessons will continue through the 2017-2018 school year. This month, we tackled two important topics over the course of two sessions. The first addressed financial aid, examining resources available to students to help pay for college. It also went into detail about how to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which determines a student’s eligibility for need-based federal and state financial aid (beginning in 2017, the FAFSA is available beginning on October 1, three months sooner than it has traditionally). The second session was an in-depth look at the college application process, addressing what students and families need to know when filling out applications, including a walkthrough of the Common App, a unified college application accepted by roughly 650 colleges and universities.

Youth Program Coordinator Kevin Impellizeri introduces students to upcoming college preparation dates

The old saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child. We are committed to serving as citizens in each of our students’ success.

What they Did On their Summer Vacation: The Karabots Junior Fellows

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows and Penn SUMR Scholars Programs pose on the marble staircase at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Image courtesy of the Penn SUMR Scholars Program

A few weeks ago, the Center for Education welcomed the newest cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, who took part in an intensive two weeks of medical and STEM education. This year’s theme was Anatomy & Armor, focusing on the natural and artificial ways humans and animals protect themselves from trauma, disease, and predators. During ten content-packed days, they met with guest speakers, took part in hands-on activities, and traveled to interesting locations around the city. Along the way they also learned about subjects in anatomy, general health and wellness, and even a little bit about professionalism and preparing for their future careers.

Week One:

Our program began with our new students getting to know both each other and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. We welcomed twenty-two students in total, representing a wide variety of backgrounds, neighborhoods, and schools. In a short amount of time, they got to know each other and learned how to work together, taking part in a variety of team-building activities. In keeping with our established history of game-based learning, among their activities was a play session of Steel Plate Games’ Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a cooperative computer game that relies heavily on teams learning how to communicate with each other to achieve a common goal: defusing a virtual bomb. In addition to better getting to know each other, they received an introduction to our organization, complete with a tour of the Mütter Museum.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program play the cooperative computer game "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes"

On their second day, the Junior Fellows received an immersive experience in the world of physical therapy, examining trauma and recovery. The theme of the day was a scenario in which a patient was injured in a car accident; over the course of their sessions, the students met with health care professionals and took part in activities related to emergency care and rehabilitation. They met with a sophisticated dummy designed to simulate real-life medical conditions, learned how to measure a patient’s vital signs, and practiced using assistive equipment such as wheelchairs and crutches.

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

Along the way they took part in lessons related to skin and the human skeleton. Healthcare professionals introduced them to careers in biomedical engineering, sports medicine, neurology, and anesthesiology. They also learned about modern and historic armors. They traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to explore their armory and learn about the design choices that went into medieval armor. A representative from Temple University’s Red Diamond Battalion visited the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to show them modern military protective gear. A former student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrated modern athletic equipment.

Week Two:

Their second week began with a day of activities and speakers related to the anatomy of animals. Speakers addressed topics related to comparative anatomy and veterinary medicine. Along the way, the students got to meet live animals, including a snake and a tortoise. The day concluded with a trip to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, where our Karabots Junior Fellows broke into teams and took part in a photo scavenger hunt designed to teach them about natural forms of armor as well as introduce them to the diverse programming the Academy has to offer (fun fact: College of Physicians of Philadelphia Fellow Joseph Leidy served as both the Librarian and Chief Curator for the Academy and was influential in the field of paleontology).

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program pose in front of a dinosaur display at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Several activities this week addressed ways they can help protect and maintain their “armor.” Following a morning yoga session, the students met with experts in nutrition and personal fitness, learning healthy eating habits as well as a bit about self defense. They also learned about the dangers of substance abuse. This led into a series of activities related to first aid, where they learned how to set a splint and what to do in case someone they know experiences a drug or alcohol overdose. They also learned about the benefits of aerobic exercise, taught in part through a session of the rhythm-based video game series Dance Dance Revolution.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program take part in a yoga session.

Our students also cultivated their research, public speaking, and networking skills. During their first week, the Karabots Junior Fellows divided into groups and selected a specimen from the Mütter Museum. Through the course of the two weeks, they researched their specimen in preparation to deliver small tours to visiting students from the University of Pennsylvania’s SUMR (Summer Undergraduate Research) Program. The SUMR scholars are undergraduate students from underrepresented communities who come to Penn for the summer to get involved in healthcare research projects. Both they and the Karabots students had the opportunity to share their knowledge and get to know each other over museum tours and pizza. Our students also took part in sessions on establishing effective professional connections, building a successful resume, and professional email and social media use.

Wayne Cooper, one of the Karabots Junior Fellows poses with a sample of various vertebrate hearts during a sheep heart dissection

Despite being so full of activities, the week flew by quickly. By the end of the two week session, our students had a better understanding of some of the exciting healthcare careers available to them. We are eager to share more opportunities with them when they return in the fall.