Gillings students reach out and teach at UNC’s third annual Science Expo

April 26, 2013
 
About 10,000 people from across North Carolina attended the 2013 Science Expo, held April 13 on the campus of The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The annual event is part of the N.C. Science Festival, a multi-day celebration hosted by UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, which showcases the educational, cultural and financial impact of science and technology in the state.
 
More than 60 UNC departments and other organizations offered educational exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities and tours focused on science, technology, mathematics and medicine at UNC. Exhibits were designed to appeal to diverse audiences, from preschoolers to experienced science enthusiasts.
 
(Left to right): Student Lauren Snyder (maternal and child health) describes her team’s recycling project to Public Health Leadership Program director, Dr. Anna Schenck; Healthy Carolina Kids team members Jon Brolund (health policy and management) and Mugdha Golwalker (maternal and child health) with Jareen Williams (School of Information and Library Science) and Suja Davis (health policy and management and School of Nursing); and Zinaida Mahmutefendic and Kaitlin McCormick (Public Health Leadership Program) talk about their STD- and pregnancy-prevention exhibit.
 
Students of Lori Evarts, MPH, clinical assistant professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Public Health Leadership Program, prepared and presented three exhibits at the event. Their project themes were aimed at highlighting various aspects of public health sciences – biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental sciences, health behavior, health policy, maternal and child health, nutrition, public health leadership and the integration of technology – and were developed through Evarts’ Public Health Leadership class, “Project Management Strategy and Application.”
 
The “Healthy Carolina Kids” project provided Expo attendees with an opportunity to undertake both a nutritional activity – e.g., the sorting of common foods into categories that reflect their nutrition levels – and physical activities (e.g., jumping rope outside; marching in place during a television commercial or stretching) to promote healthy eating and incorporate exercise into daily activities. The students also provided handouts on nutritional guidance and physical activity.
 
“Let’s Talk About It!” addressed the shortage of free teen-friendly mobile applications with clear, concise and accurate information about pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) prevention and protection. The display was designed to engage parents and teens in discussions about teen health and to elicit feedback from teens and parents about their potential interest in and usability of a prototype mobile app. Group leaders used a “Jeopardy”-like game to quiz participants about pregnancy and STD facts, using pictures of contraceptive methods, names of different methods and efficacy rates. They also provided a list of resources available in the area.
 
“Rethink: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” aimed to educate a diverse audience about the recyclability of common items through sorting activities suitable for all ages. The exhibit streamed a number of videos from a recycling advocacy website and included pictures to emphasize the need for recycling and items made from recyclable material. Participants also could use their zip codes to look up their communities’ policies for recycling products.
 
Anna Schenck, PhD, associate dean for public health practice at the Gillings School, said the public health teams developed “awesome” exhibits. “Our students did a great job,” she said, “representing the science of public health and providing important outreach to the community.”
 

 
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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.