Dr Usmani and his clinical research team based at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) Royal Brompton Hospital campus collectively developed, organised and delivered an innovative on-campus engagement activity to sixty Year 6 (aged 10/11) primary school children from Capel Manor Primary School Enfield called “Lung Hospital Tests” in December 2017. The aim of the engagement was to improve the learning opportunity of less-advantaged young people as part of Imperial’s widening participation and schools engagement programme.
The team adopted a kinaesthetic learning approach for the main feature of their event, with pupils having hands-on experience with hospital tests used to monitor patients with lung disease. This tactile learning style very much suits students with special educational needs or learning difficulties, and is a good way to teach pupils of different attainments.
Dr Usmani commenced with an interactive lecture, using vibrant images and minimal text to talk about the lung. His pitch of delivery with memorable analogies, ‘the lungs are an upside down tree’ eased the learning process in a complex area. Dr Usmani displayed striking images on cigarette smoke damage to the lungs, which elicited a unanimous expression of repulsion from the pupils. Dr Usmani then ‘facilitated’ an emotive ‘debate’ between the pupils on the effects of smoking, and the ethics of an individual’s choice, thereby addressing health promotion.
This was followed by 5 workstations, with rotating groups of 6 pupils learning about oxygen in blood, peak flow tests, lung blowing tests, interpreting chest X-rays and understanding lung anatomy/skeleton. Each workstation also described research from Dr Usmani’s group related to that topic and, provided an opportunity for pupils to engage with the workstation tutor to ask about careers in science and health. The team also developed a ‘personal health record’, where every pupil had their own workbook, recording their own measurements at each workstation.
The engagement activity benefitted the pupils by giving them the opportunity to engage with a variety of professional disciplines in STEM to understand the many careers they could follow in research science and health; not just ‘how to be a doctor’. Feedback from an attending teacher stated the event was powerful in supporting pupil aspirations to go to university and that they ‘wanted to come to a place like this’.
Reader in Respiratory Medicine