Baby Bubbles and the Great Pipette Challenge

The Women’s Health Research Centre facilitated a ‘Discover and Do’ table on the schools day of Imperial Festival, Friday May 5th.  Showcasing the combined fields of clinical research and clinical midwifery practice, we offered Year 5 students several hands-on activities which they took on with inspiring enthusiasm.  That May 5th also celebrated International Day of the Midwife was an added bonus.

The ‘Baby Bubbles’ activity at our stand invited students to explore the mysteries of the womb by using their so-called ‘midwife detective skills’ of sight and touch.   Research Midwives Rachel Akers and Malko Adan facilitated gentle probing hands over miniature amniotic water balloon sacs each with a singleton, twin or triplet jelly baby pregnancy.   Like a midwife using her core skill of abdominal palpation, students practised “seeing with their hands”.  The amniotic sac water balloons provoked much intrigue and discussion as young midwives of the future discovered the excitement of a multiple pregnancy.  Amazingly, despite the tactile appeal of the ‘baby bubbles’, we had only one rupture of membranes on the day!

Meanwhile at the other end of the table classmates paired off to have a go in the ‘Great Pipette Challenge’.  Lab technicians Ramona Mannino and Maria Arianoglou challenged participants to a laboratory skills race transferring tiny volumes of different fluids to a beaker. Some of the girls decked in full lab coat, goggles and gloves mused about the possibility of their future careers in laboratory science.   Our Lady of Victories Primary School won overall on the day and was sent a prize-winning lab coat for their class.

The nine and ten year old students additionally had the opportunity to explore a life-sized pregnancy torso and the uterine environment with Research Midwife Tina Prendeville.  One precocious student queried, “…Miss, you mentioned that the umbilical cord transfers nutrients from the mother to the baby.  Does that mean the mother isn’t left with enough?”  We were floored by their knowledge and delighted by their unabashed enthusiasm.  Finally, before each group moved to the next stand, pupils were invited to use further fine motor skills tasked with grabbing a single jelly bean from a large pot using only a pair of lab tweezers.  No small task without fingers!  One dexterous tweezer-handler declared it was “…his lucky day!”  There’s no doubt it was a great day for us too!

Alison Perry – Research Midwife at the Women’s Health Research Centre

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