ECHO’s “OUR BODY” Exhibit Draws 37,000 Visitors, Wraps Up Sept. 3
- By Jennifer Nachbur
Following a nearly five-month run that included close to 5,000 school group visitors, hundreds of University of Vermont medical student, graduate student and faculty volunteer hours, a successful six-part ECHO After Dark Speaker Series, and lively summer Family Scientist Lab program, the “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” exhibit at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center came to a close on Monday, September 3, 2012.
Presented through a partnership between ECHO and the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the fascinating scientific exhibit opened April 14, 2012 and has had roughly 37,000 visitors to date. OUR BODY, which featured 200 organs, human bodies and other anatomical specimens organized in six body-system sections, was the first exhibit to be housed in ECHO’s new Lakeside Hall and Pavilion.
ECHO and the UVM College of Medicine’s shared commitment to teaching was key to the exhibit’s success. Visitors were able to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the body’s form, function and uniqueness, thanks in large part to the dozens of UVM College of Medicine faculty, medical students, and graduate students who helped provide anatomy expertise, served as special speakers, and volunteered with school groups. Several faculty members were regular fixtures in the exhibits, including Ellen Black, Ph.D., lecturer in neurological sciences, Gary Mawe, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences, and George Osol, Ph.D., professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
In conjunction with the exhibit, ECHO and the UVM College of Medicine co-organized a special After Dark “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” Speaker Series featuring UVM College of Medicine faculty, which ran Thursday evenings from April 19 through May 24, and took place in the exhibit. A total of 525 people paid to attend the six-part series, which included presentations by: William Hopkins, M.D., associate professor of medicine, and Jason Bates, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor of medicine; Stephen Leffler, M.D., professor of surgery; Bruce Beynnon, Ph.D., professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, Sharon Henry, Ph.D., professor of rehabilitation and movement sciences, and Helene Langevin, M.D., professor of neurology; David Halsey, M.D., associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, James Trice, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Sheldon Cooper, M.D., professor of medicine; Gary Mawe, Ph.D., and Peter Moses, M.D., professor of medicine; and George Osol, Ph.D., and Mark Plante, M.D., professor of surgery. According to Linda Bowden, ECHO coordinator of lifelong learning, the speaker series was the first of its kind and an outstanding success thanks to UVM’s “rock stars.” She shared a summary of the series and feedback from attendees in ECHO’s “Below the Surface” blog.
Class of 2013 medical student Jessica Clem was one of two UVM medical students who fulfilled a fourth-year Teaching Requirement over the course of one month at ECHO, assisting with the OUR BODY exhibit. The opportunity, co-developed by Eileen CichoskiKelly, Ph.D., director of education instruction and scholarship, and Bill Elliston, M.S.Ed., ECHO’s public education manager, allowed Clem to share the vast medical knowledge she has been acquiring over the past three-plus years of her medical school education, and develop new teaching skills that helped her become what Elliston calls a “professional translator.” Clem found the experience enlightening, and was amazed by the range of emotions she observed in visitors to the exhibit. “People found both a greater understanding of death and the process of creating life,” says Clem, who believes her time at ECHO will directly benefit her future career as a primary care physician.
“This month has helped me remember the level of knowledge most people bring to the conversation, to realize the amount of misinformation, and encourage me to work to find analogies that people can relate to,” Clem says. “On a personal level, I’ve felt my medical education come full circle. It’s been several years since I did my anatomical dissection and now, I have a much different perspective on the body and a wealth of knowledge that didn’t exist when I first took anatomy.”
Both Clem and her classmate Emily Keller, who completed her Teaching Requirement project in July, assisted Elliston with ECHO’s six Family Scientist Labs held in July and August. An overview and photos from the program are featured in a blog post by Elliston.
Perhaps the greatest measure of the exhibit’s impact were the responses collected in the guest books and post-it notes filled out by visitors of all ages in a special reflection space located at the end of the exhibit. Here are a few samples of the feedback captured:
- “We came from Maine just for this – great job!”
- “It’s so cool. I’ve never seen parts of our body so in detail. It’s cool to see how much muscles you move in basketball. I like to see how everything works and moves. Thanks for opening the bodies for us to look at (awesome).”
- “I want to treat my own body with more respect. A beautiful machine. A gift.”
- “I didn’t really think our bodies had so many parts!”
- “I was amazed by all of the different brains.”
- “All of the UVM students really added to our experience today.”
- “I thought it was super cool to see what the bones and other parts of my body looked like from the inside.”
- “I would like to study this kind of stuff in college.”
For more information, visit the ECHO OUR BODY website, which features a wealth of details about the exhibit, how teachers and parents could best use the exhibit and videos featuring UVM College of Medicine faculty members discussing the six featured body systems.