Inspiring our next generation
They call it the Bioskills Lab: a gleaming room outfitted with bright lights, high-tech surgical equipment, and examination tables -- like a set straight out of CSI or maybe even ER. Most days the training room at the Seattle Science Foundation hosts cardiologists who come to sharpen their scalpel skills. But since the foundation launched its Kids in Medicine program in 2008, every Monday during the school year the place buzzes with the sound of fourth graders ewwing and whoaing their way through a real-life heart dissection. Okay, the hearts come from pigs, but the dissection follows the same hands-on, 18-step process that those grown-up doctors do. Future surgeons of Puget Sound come from grade schools all over Seattle some even getting beamed in from rural schools via high-def video feed -- dress as doctors and, for two and a half hours, dig in. They find the opening between the superior and inferior vena cava. They inspect the tricuspid value and the right atrial appendage. They examine the left atrial appendage, a common site of cardiac arrhythmia in humans. And whether or not they remember the terminology or what flows into what, they get what the foundation's COO calls a peak experience: "Walking into that lab and putting on a gown and gloves -- that will stick with them forever."