Gillings students put ‘public’ in public health at NC Science Expo

April 15, 2015

What do paper bags, craft glitter and old soda bottles have to do with public health?

Professor Lori Evarts (second from right) smiles with PUBH 784 students (l-r) Lawrenson Christmas, Anna Spier and Elizabeth Moore.

Ask Lori Evarts, MPH, clinical assistant professor of public health leadership at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

On Saturday, April 11, Evarts and her PUBH 784 project management class put on four successful exhibits at the North Carolina Science Festival’s UNC Science Expo. The students engaged children and adults of all ages while sharing information about global water and sanitation issues, sexual behavior and STIs, tobacco use and the ways germs spread.

“I am so very proud of the Project Management Strategy and Application teams,” said Evarts. “They provided such great interactive activity booths to share the science of public health with visitors”

Two young science enthusiasts learn about water filtration from student Elizabeth Moore.

The “Water Works” booth was developed by Team Avengers and focused on the global scarcity of water and the need for clean water. The interactive element asked participants to build a water filter using old soda bottles, which demonstrated the concept of water filtration to make dirty water clean.

Student Osub Ahmed encourages a visitor to inflate a paper bag representing “smoker’s lungs.”

Team JADOK prepared the “Let’s Take A Smoke Break” booth in collaboration with the Orange County Health Department. The display showed a healthy lung alongside a smoker’s lung and illustrated some of the toxins in tobacco. The team’s interactive activity had visitors blow up brown paper lunch bags, using straws with and without holes punched in them, to experience the difference between healthy lungs and smoker’s lungs. The team also challenged participants with a game involving pinning chemicals to related parts of the human body.

Participants at the “Contagious Sparkle” booth high five to illustrate germ transmission.

The “Contagious Sparkle” booth was developed by the Fantastic Four team. Students taught individuals of all ages the importance of proper hand washing to remove germs. The team’s activity used hand lotion and glitter to demonstrate how people can spread germs, represented by different colors of glitter, through shaking hands or giving a high five. After witnessing the ineffectiveness of using only a paper towel to wipe off glitter, participants had their hands sprayed with soap and water to remove all the glitter “germs.”

Student Christy Bridges (right) shares facts about STIs through an interactive game.

The final booth, called “What You Don’t Know Can Harm You,” featured information on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and was prepared by the Masters of the Management Universe team. Team members worked with a variety of agencies to collect accurate resources about adolescent health, with a focus on STI awareness. At the Science Expo, students shared helpful resources and offered participants pre- and post-tests about STI facts and the age when children can obtain sexual health information without parental consent.

Kathleen Gray, MSPH, director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core in the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility at the Gillings School, visited the Expo with her family. “Each of the booths was very nicely prepared,” she remarked. “The students were so well-informed and knowledgeable in their presentations of truly fun activities.”

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

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