Friday, June 5, 2009

Oobleck Adventure!

On June 4th, our E.M.S.P. group began what will hopefully be a continuous volunteer and teaching opportunity in the community. Mayo Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital in Rochester has numerous activities for its patients to break the monotonous time spent in the hospital. Each month has a list of activities such as monthly visit from numerous people and their dogs, art activities, and so on. Working with Jennifer Mangers, one of the child-life specialist employees, we are introducing science activities to the patients at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Our activity, an Oobleck Adventure, is inspired by Dr. Seuss’ book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. The specific activities we plan are based off of the L.H.S. G.E.M. guide, Oobleck: What Do Scientist Do? This activity begins with the reading of Dr. Seuss’ book followed by the patients experience with Oobleck. This gave the chance for the patients to explore the substance and lead to discourse about the physical properties of Oobleck. After our discussion, we would move to team challenges. The patients are separated into groups and then given a challenge with the Oobleck. The activity wraps up with a science convention giving the patients a chance to share their challenges and how they accomplished them. Ultimately, the patients are given an opportunity to experience what scientist do in the field, the importance of teamwork, and the exchanging of ideas and discoveries.

Arriving at Noon to prepare the 1:30 p.m. activity, four cohort from the W.S.U. Rochester Education Department participated. Colleen Loy, Katie Befort, Heather Engh, and I met together to prepare the Oobleck and wrap the activity area in plastic due to Oobleck’s amazing ability to make a mess of everything. We met Jennifer on the 3rd floor activity room to find out that the majority of the patients left this morning and we have three patients interested in this science activity. We were disappointed in the low numbers, but happy that many patients were able to leave the hospital this morning. From the beginning, we were aware of the fact that the number of patients on the floor fluctuated from day-to-day and we needed to be flexible- just like in the classroom!

Beginning the activity, Katie and Heather read Bartholomew and the Oobleck to two patients. Finishing the book, one patient left with his Dad leaving us with the only one patient to participate in this activity. Jennifer was also aware of a patient that could not leave his room due to his medical condition, was very interested in the Oobleck. I walked with Jennifer down to this patient’s room. Bringing a container, this patient and his brother enjoyed the peculiar substance that Oobleck is and helped break up his isolated day.

I returned to the activity room to find Colleen, Katie, and Heather sitting around the single patient and having a great time. We may not have had many young patients exploring the Oobleck, but we had many adults coming in and out of the room wanting to feel the green goo. Our activity never came to fruition, but was a great experience. Jennifer told us that the single patient that had attended had been on the pediatric floor for a long time and this was the most fun he has had since being here.

Once this patient left, we cleaned up the activity room. The book that was read in the beginning was donated and take-away bags were left behind for future patients interested in experience the wonders of Gak, an alternative to Oobleck. This take-way bag also included the ingredients to Oobleck.

Thanks to Cristen Schwab for the take-away inserts and initiating this opportunity with Jennifer Mangers. We appreciate Dr. Maggie Hoody for the introduction of Oobleck in the classroom and allowing us to borrow her materials and Colleen Loy for supplying the ingredients of the Oobleck and Gak. Colleen also prepared the take-away bags with Gak-in-cup.

-Kelly James Schrandt