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Students fill teeth, read x-rays at Rady BYP science camp

July 19, 2018 — 

This week youth from the inner city, northern communities and across Winnipeg  had the chance to fill in teeth, swab cheek cells, test blood pressure and try out all sorts of research and health-related procedures at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences’ 13th annual Biomedical Youth Program (BYP) camp.

“This makes me think of all the great possibilities I could have,” said Sisler High School student Camilla Opida, 14.

Students participating in the week-long day camp attended workshops ranging from Genetics, where they performed blood typing, to Physiotherapy, where they learned techniques employed in practice. Along with University of Manitoba faculty members, this year’s BYP camp also featured session leaders from the National Microbiology Laboratory (who taught students about screening for AIDS and STIs) and U of M graduate students (who led science experiments at the Inner-City Science Centre at Niji Mahkwa School, a joint project of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and Winnipeg School Division.)

“Camp was awesome! It opened up my eyes about different careers in the health field and now I want to be an occupational therapist,” said Logan Merasty, a grade 12 student from Brochet, who was enjoying using test tubes and other lab equipment at the Inner-City Science to test DNA for an experiment.

Participants had a chance to experience a week of being a doctor, dentist, researcher, rehabilitation scientist, pharmacist or nurse through hands-on activities in laboratories, simulation centres and classrooms. This was the first year that the College of Nursing joined the other Rady Faculty colleges at BYP camp and led an interactive, interprofessional activity.

“Working in an interdisciplinary way is important in health care. By adding the College of Nursing to the workshops, we bring the five Rady colleges (dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and rehabilitation sciences) even closer together,” says Ben Salins, coordinator for this year’s BYP camp. 

Across the different colleges, there are countless career opportunities and through the 17 different workshops offered throughout the week, students get a taste of a variety of health sciences professions in the 10 sessions they attend.

“It’s great for the kids to be exposed to different professions. There are so many options available, it’s good for them to know what they’re really about,” said Daniella Battaglia, a second-year University of Manitoba student who volunteered as a BYP camp leader.

In the dentistry workshop, dental students demonstrated how to make tooth fillings out of amalgam (the silver fillings) and composite (the white fillings). Each BYP camper was given their own practice manikin where they popped a fake tooth into the manikin’s mouth and got to work on filling it. They also learned how to read radiographs (x-rays) to identify a healthy tooth, versus one with a cavity.

Natalie Rosenthal, entering fourth-year dentistry at U of M, was impressed with what the students had already picked up from their short time in the camp when she showed them the x-rays.

“Dentin! Enamel! Pulp!” students shouted as she pointed to various parts of the tooth they were examining. No one saw the cavity lurking on the second tooth. Rosenthal pointed to a lightly shaded area, surprising students with how innocuous it was.

In the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry wet lab, each student made an impression of their finger using alginate. They then filled the impressions with plaster to make model fingers. This is the same process dentists use to make models of teeth for braces, retainers and anything else they might need to give their patients the perfect smile.

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