WVSOM neuroscience camp allows high school students to explore the senses

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) Just Say KNOW weeklong summer camp may have moved to a virtual format this year, but that didn’t stop its high-school-aged attendees from learning about science, medicine and the osteopathic medical school.

The switch in format, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed organizers to expand the camp’s reach beyond West Virginia and deliver interactive education to young people as far away as Colorado. Forty campers participated in this year’s program, which was titled “Neuroscience: Perception or Reality” and focused on the body’s sensory systems.

This was Hunter Wamsley’s third year attending the camp. The 17-year-old rising high school senior from Asbury, W.Va., hopes to become a physician and said attending Just Say KNOW will help him reach that goal.

“I want to go into a health care career, and this helps me narrow my search,” he said. “It gives me information on careers I hadn’t thought about before. At last year’s camp on anatomy, I really enjoyed the neurology unit, and with this year’s topic being neuroscience, it made me want to go into that field even more. They presented the information in a way that was really understandable.”

Just Say KNOW is designed to introduce ninth- through 12th-graders and recent high school graduates to topics related to science and medicine. The camp is taught by WVSOM student interns and an undergraduate intern under the supervision of faculty. The 2020 event took place June 15-19 and was overseen by Karen Wines, a WVSOM biomedical sciences instructor, and Crystal Boudreaux, Ph.D., a WVSOM biomedical sciences assistant professor who serves as the camp’s director.

In addition to lectures, the camp emphasizes education through hands-on activities designed to appeal to young learners. This year, campers built models and drew images of anatomical structures within the eye and ear, listened to sound clips illustrating different levels of hearing loss, attempted to describe unseen objects based solely on their sense of touch, smell or taste, and discovered how medical imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRIs and CAT scans can help diagnose illnesses.

In a “proprioception party” to learn about the often-overlooked sense that makes us aware of our body’s position and movement, campers tried bouncing a beach ball while keeping their eyes closed, walked through an obstacle course while balancing a cup of water, and watched instructors use hula hoops to illustrate how structures within the ear help the body maintain balance.

Campers also learned about medical professions, osteopathic manipulative medicine and about WVSOM. Staff from the school’s Rural Health Initiative spoke about the program and showed photos of medical students exploring issues related to health concerns that are common in West Virginia. An employee of the school’s Clinical Evaluation Center provided a video tour of the facility, and select WVSOM faculty members shared information about research they have conducted. As with past camps, this year’s program also included a showcase that allowed attendees to demonstrate to their families what they’ve learned.

The camp concluded with the presentation of awards to this year’s medical student interns, Lindsey Ray and Allison Silber, Class of 2023, and undergraduate intern Lexie Mizia. Ray, who was in her final year with Just Say KNOW since becoming involved with the camp as a participant in 2014, received a stethoscope engraved with her name.

Wines said the dedication of the interns made the virtual format effective and the camp rewarding for the 40 participants.

“I see this as a big step in the development of a virtual platform for WVSOM’s high school outreach programs,” Wines said. “The camp was a success because of the passion of the people involved, who took the concept and a basic skeleton of a schedule and turned it into a fun, interactive immersion in how we understand the environment around us. We enjoyed getting to know the campers, and we hope to see them back, either in person or online, next year.”

Previous camps in the series have included Just Say KNOW to Drugs, Just Say KNOW to Infectious Diseases and Just Say KNOW to Anatomy.


Date Added: 
Friday, June 26, 2020