In our latest blog our Learning Officer looks back at Midlothian Science Festival.
The Learning Team here at Surgeons’ Hall were delighted to be out and about in Midlothian in October taking part in the Midlothian Science Festival. We visited local primary schools and participated in Gala days, bringing the excitement of Surgeons’ Hall museum with us. We focused on learning why germs are so important to surgeons and why surgeons must wash their hands!
At the primary schools, we learnt that there are microorganisms all around us. We examined some colonies of fungi and bacteria that had been grown in petri dishes. We even left a dish out in the class to see what we could grow over the next few days, helping pupils understand what was in the air around them. The results were very impressive.
Once we understood about what micro-organisms were and where we could find them, we moved on to finding out how our bodies protect ourselves. The volume of skin that they shed in a year horrified some pupils but they all enjoyed ‘dissolving bugs’ in ‘stomach acid’. Watching the process of phagocytosis fascinated the pupils, many were amazed that white cells inside of them could ‘swallow germs’.
We learnt that one problem with surgery is that surgeons bypass many of the body’s defenses when they perform operations. That means infection can be a big problem. We traveled back in time to the 1850’s and one pupil ‘amputated’ another pupils arm. The chances of our patient dying from infection was very high. Our surgeon had done nothing about hygiene!
Our pupils ended the workshop by getting ready to perform an operation as they would today. They put on scrubs, hats and masks and most importantly, they ‘scrubbed up’. Everyone went away knowing a little bit more about how amazing our bodies are and hopefully we inspired some future surgeons.
The Learning Team also visited Lasswade Centre for the Science Alive Gala day. People got the chance to learn how to ‘scrub up’ for surgery. By using special hand lotion and UV lights, families were able to see how good they were at washing their hands by finding all the ‘germs’ that they had left behind. Some people needed to go back to the sink!
Families also got the chance to train as surgeons. They learnt the tricky art of knot tying and how to perform keyhole surgery. Some very determined participants spent a long time practicing. We really enjoyed showing families how advances in science have changed the way surgery is performed and the benefits that it brings patients.
The Learning Team are looking forward to getting out and about again in Midlothian next year.