"PhUn" Day provides engaging physiology activities and experiments

  • Nov 15, 2018
  • American Physical Society, PhUn Day, Outreach, physiology, event
  • Homepage News, Faculty & Staff, Research, College of Natural Science, Physiology
Image of PhUn Day attendees
MSU's Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Day gives area school children the opportunity each year to have "PhUn" while learning about the science of the human body. Photo courtesy of the MSU Department of Physiology.

Area school children have the opportunity each year to have “PhUn” while learning about the science of the human body at Impression 5 (I5) Science Center in Lansing, Mich., with the help of the Michigan State University Department of Physiology. The event—the 7th annual Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Day—held last month, attracted an estimated 740 visitors to I5 to participate in engaging activities and experiments.

This outreach event coincides with the American Physiological Society’s (APS) PhUn Week, a nationwide outreach program that promotes building connections between scientists and their local schools to increase student interest in, and knowledge of, physiology.

The co-organizers, Erica Wehrwein, associate professor of physiology, and Valerie VanRyn, instructional technologist/assistant instructor, had help in planning the event from their undergraduate student, Keeler Steele. 

Image of CPR station
"Staying Alive--Hands-On CPR Training," was one of two new stations at the 7th Annual PhUn Day. The station educated attendees on the science behind cardiac arrest and trained them how to perform hands-on CPR. Photo courtesy of MSU Department of Physiology.

“It is a wonderful scenario when our students become the teachers,” Wehrwein said. “I love to hear feedback from my volunteers that this event helped their own learning as they explained the concepts to the public and answered questions from children and families.”

The 10 stations at the event this year were designed to teach a wide variety of physiological principles, including cardiac function, vision and digestion.

Two new stations were added this year.

The first, “Staying Alive–Hands-On CPR Training,” educated attendees on the science behind cardiac arrest and trained them how to perform hands-on CPR. Numerous PSL faculty members provided donations of 5 new teddy bears that served as the CPR dummies to make the activity accessible for children of all ages.

Image of children experiencing the "Smell and Taste Integration" station
The second of this year's new stations was "Smell and Taste Integration," where attendees were encouraged to open their senses. Photo Courtesy of the MSU Department of Physiology.

The second new station, “Smell and Taste Integration” encouraged attendees to open their senses! Activities included tasting various flavors of jelly beans with the nose plugged and unplugged, smelling a number of tea bags and attempting to determine the flavor and counting the number of taste buds within a region on the tongue.   

Some 70 MSU volunteers including undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty members across a variety of MSU departments and majors participated, and numerous staff members from I5 were involved with PhUn Day. The Physiology Society Club, Pre-Physician Assistant Club, and more were represented.

McLaren Greater Lansing joined the PhUn Day team as a new sponsor of the event this year, donating Band-Aid kits to each attendee (included in their goody bags) and contributing financial support. Additional financial support was provided by the Department of Physiology and the APS. Once again, the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement generously provided CATA bus tokens to aid in volunteer transportation.  A special thank you goes to Lee Cox, MSU Department of Physiology Chair, for his support, as well as to the physiology staff members and office assistants who helped behind the scenes to make this event a success.

The total numbers for the national 2018 PhUn Week Initiative through the APS have not yet been tallied, but, last year, more than 16,000 K-12 students from across the country participated in PhUn Week activities.

Please join us next year at MSU’s 8th Annual PhUn Day to be held on a Saturday in early November 2019 at the Impression 5 Science Center.

 

Banner image: MSU's PhUn Day coincides with the American Physiological Society’s PhUn Week, a nationwide outreach program that promotes building connections between scientists and their local schools to increase student interest in, and knowledge of, physiology. Photo courtesy of the MSU Department of Physiology.