Mindy Hepinstall

Greenville fifth graders participate in mini medical school

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Elementary students use artistic talent to replicate the human body; perform mock surgeries On Thursday, January 12 and Thursday, January 19, fifth graders within the Greenville Public School system will experience something few – if any- ten and eleven year olds do – performing surgery. This program initiated in 2011 when Baldwin Heights Elementary teacher Mindy Hepinstall customized a similar program from the S. 4 Duke Ellington School in Manhattan, New York to allow her students a more hands-on, memorable experience when learning about the body and its systems. The Mini Medical School lasts approximately four weeks.  During the first few weeks, students build replica body frames and organs out of everyday materials, such as clay, pipe cleaners and Paper Mache. The fifth graders are assisted by parent volunteers, school nurses and art teachers to complete their human creations. The Mini Medical School concludes with surgical staff from Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville coming into the school setting and coaching students in performing mock surgeries on the replica bodies. Students are divided into groups based on surgery type; heart transplants, lung transplants, appendectomies and cerebral aneurysm repair.  The fifth graders will scrub in right along side of the surgeons, giving them an even greater perspective on careers in health care. The inaugural Mini Med School in 2011 was a resounding success and model of partnership between the schools and hospital.   Hepinstall received positive feedback from students, parents and her peers.  “We set out to find a creative way to teach kids about the human body and its systems,” said Hepinstall.  “The Mini Med School succeeded in doing this and also opened students’ eyes to careers in the medical field.” In the fall of 2011, Hepinstall was asked by several of her teaching counterparts at other Greenville Elementary Schools to incorporate the program into their fifth grade curriculum.   Hepinstall again collaborated with Spectrum Health United Hospital to develop a plan that could expand the program to reach more students while making good use of facilities and hospital resources.