Building student involvement, fostering civic engagement and enhancing community service to advance public health. 

I started working with the Boston Museum of Science when I was a dental student at TUSDM.  I used to volunteer and encourage little kids to consider dentistry as a career.  So since that time I have always loved the museum.

When I moved to Connecticut, I also worked with the Connecticut Science Center and helped them for a few years during Children’s Dental Health month by doing presentations to foster early interest in dentistry.

Upon my return back to teach at Tufts in 2011, I have been working with the Museum of Science to try and form a relationship to either make some sort of permanent dental exhibit or to make some regular exhibitions where our students could engage in community service learning activities.

Last year we were invited to help with “Crime Boston ” which is a CSI themed summer camp, and we will be returning August 17 this year.  We teach dental forensics to middle grade school age children.  Our agenda will include making and identifying tooth prints with styrofoam plates and Play Doh.  We also teach them how to take alginate impression for Typodont teeth.  UConn collaborates with us and Dr. Mike Goupil, the Associate Dean of Students and OMFS and forensics professor, brings his traveling forensics specimens lab to teach our students and the children how to use to identify patients if needed during mass casualties.

This past Wed, July 13,  we were invited to participate in Mini Medical School.  I took 25 dental students from Years 2-4 and Drs. Ganda, Whitworth, Tantaris, Nanda, Magnuson, Kosmidis, Dr. Goupil from UConn along with his two 4th year students.

The agenda for this past Wednesday was action packed for both our students and the museum participants ages 10-14. First up: Head and Neck Anatomy presented by Mansi Jaiwala (D17) and Dental Anatomy presented by Elizabeth Elmaleh (D18) and Dr. Ing.

Then we presented suturing technique to the kids with a video that I made with Dr. Karimbux as the star surgeon.  We taught the kids how to suture up a banana.  The kids loved this activity.  We used blunted large quilting needles for safety and each child had one of our students or faculty as a personal “chaperone” to guide them through the procedure.  We were very impressed by the suturing results.  The kids had much fun with the activity and one group even gave names to their ” family” of bananas!

In the afternoon, we switched the curriculum over to introduce problem based learning to show them a bit of what we do here in medical and dental school.  I fabricated storyline scenarios to set up a real life situation for them.  First up: dealing with a medical emergency.  I recruited our students and faculty as actors. In the first video, Dr. Nanda plays the part of having a heart attack at Logan Airport and then we see how people are supposed to subsequently act to save her.  Boston EMS gets into the action as well and we are grateful that they participated in the filming.

Jaime Valencia (D18) then punctuates how to act during medical emergencies and did an outstanding job teaching CPR basics to the children. In the last part of the airport scene one of the passengers played by Gabe Cornick (D17), trips over Dr. Nanda’s suitcase and breaks his wrist.

Lastly, our students are playing football with Dr. Rankin, and he breaks his arm while being overzealous and all 3 of our main actors (Dr. Nanda, Dr. Rankin, and Gabe) end up sharing the ambulance to go to the hospital to get fixed up.

We ended the day teaching the kids how to cast broken bones with casting equipment donated generously by 3M Industries, a much-appreciated and generous gesture that allowed us to enhance this learning initiative.

The goal of this event was to do something different and unique with the Museum of Science to encourage youth to consider medicine and dentistry (and Tufts!) in their future career goals through combining community service with service learning initiative for our students and supporting the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education coalition. Thank you to the students and faculty that volunteered their days to give the children a look into the amazing world of dentistry and medicine. Special thanks again goes out to our friends at Boston EMS and 3M Industries for their teamwork and donating their time and materials, which allowed this venture to be a success!

– Dr. Melissa Ing

Categories: EventsReflections