Hands-On Activities & Workshops

Hands-on activities boost student engagement and promote content retention through practical application of workshop concepts. Experiential learning and exposure improves problem solving skills and enhances participant communication and interactions. Whether at Weill Cornell Medicine or on-site at schools, community based organizations or events, staff ensure safe, supportive environments to allow students to explore and grow.

Samples of Past Workshops Include:

Communicating Science

Communicating science to a lay audience is as much an art as it is—what else?—a science. In this workshop, participants learn about the writing techniques journalists and communications professionals use to compellingly convey scientific findings to a non-scientist audience. Participants practice this approach by interviewing Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences students about their research and succinctly summarize that work.

Diabetes: Exploring Advances in Long-Term Glycemic Control

A hands-on, edible workshop exploring long-term glycemic control using polymer-encapsulated beta cells, as simulated through a calcium lactate and alginate solution with sprinkles.

Exploring Enzymes

Have you ever wondered how all the food that you eat gets digested? It is not only the acid in your stomach that breaks down your food—many molecules in your body, called enzymes, help with that too. Enzymes are special types of proteins that speed up chemical reactions, such as the digestion of food in your stomach. In fact, there are thousands of different enzymes in your body that work around-the-clock to keep you healthy and active. In this science activity students investigate one of these enzymes, called catalase, to find out how it helps to protect their body from damage.

Exploring Hidden Microcosms with the Foldscope

The Foldscope is an optical microscope developed at Stanford University composed of paper and a lens that folds like origami. Students assemble their own Foldscope from scratch, observe various organisms under previously-prepared slides and make their own slides from a choice of provided specimens. Students also explore connecting their Foldscope to their smartphone and capturing pictures and videos of the observed specimens. A brief introduction to basic microscopy principles are provided at the beginning of the workshop.

Fire Together, Wire Together

Replicate a neuron circuit firing using copper tape, watch batteries and LED light emitting diodes to demonstrate electrical signals in a neuron traveling from the cell body, down the axon, and to the dendrites. After building the circuits, students use their operational slide switches to learn that electrical signals do not go into the cell body or the myelin, and once they reach
the dendrites they do not cross to another neuron. Further, students learn that neurons release chemicals called neurotransmitters into the space between neurons, which activate receptors in the next neuron to start the electrical signal there.

Food Science: Extract DNA from Strawberries

Extract DNA from strawberries using household items such as dish soap and salt while talking about precision medicine and current technologies surrounding DNA and genomics.

Identifying the Best Treatment: Exploring Precision Medicine & Organoid Cellular Models

The Englander Institute for Precision Medicine (EIPM) has an active program focused on developing patient derived tumor organoids – 3-dimensional cellular models grown in culture ex vivo from the tumor tissues obtained from EIPM patients. With these models, EIPM is able to extend its personalized medicine program to include high throughput and targeted drug screening which is validated through genomic sequencing. EIPM is using these models to test new cancer drugs as a first step toward tailored clinical trials, as well as, further current and ongoing clinical trial research within the institution. EIPM’s mission is to utilize these models to predict resistance and/or direct the next line of therapy for the patient. In this session, students tour EIPM’s lab and conduct microscopic examinations of cellular structures to see how scientists identify the best treatment for the patient in a research lab.

Medical School Orientation: Stop the Bleed

In this experiential activity, attendees run-through part of the first day of orientation for first year medical students at Weill Cornell Medicine. Led by faculty members from the Division of Trauma, Burns, Critical and Acute Care at Weill Cornell Medicine, students learn about the American College of Surgeons’ national Stop the Bleed program, including the various lifesaving steps necessary for bleeding control techniques in an emergency. They then practice their wound packing, pressure and tourniquet skills in small groups on mannequins. Students also learn how these practices are taken globally by WCM faculty and students to train people about these rescue techniques abroad.

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Problem Based Learning, or PBL, is an instructional practice employed in many medical schools whereby a presentation of an applied problem to a small group of students allows them to engage in discussion over several sessions to work towards a diagnosis or solution. Students in this workshop work together to replicate a medical school PBL discussion, attempting to determine possible reasons behind “Ezra’s Loss of Focus.” Weill Cornell Medicine students facilitate the workshop, guiding students through the process while participants discuss, debate and determine potential reasons during each phase. The discussions of the problem are structured to enable students to create conceptual models to explain the problem presented in the case. As the students discover the limits of their knowledge at each step, more information is released allowing participants to rule out solutions from previous phases until ultimately one
solution remains.

*In addiion to being offered in-person, this workshop has been offered virtually - Resolving a Riddle Remotely

Symptoms to Sutures: Exploring Medical Diagnostic Tools and Techniques

In this experiential activity, attendees participate in a laboratory exercise using various diagnostic tools and techniques. From ancient to modern times, physicians of all types have joined the separated edges of wounds together using sutures. Students learn about the various tools necessary for suturing, and practice their suturing skills on gels. They also learn how to use stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs to take blood pressure by observing a medical student and then practicing on fellow classmates in small groups. In accordance with neurological physical examinations, students observe pupil reflexes and tendon reflexes, such as knee jerks.

Understanding Genetic Inheritance in How We Taste & Smell

How good are you at discriminating between smells and tastes? Do you believe that your genetic inheritance disposes one to like or avoid certain types of foods? How can that happen? In this workshop, students explore their gustatory and olfactory senses and how well they can taste four sensations (sweet, sour, salty and bitter) and differentiate odors. Students will also examine Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) inheritance, as well as their tendency to eat certain types of foods.

Additional workshops and activities at Government & Community Affairs’ STEM education events have been hosted by Cornell Center for Materials Research, Cornell University Cooperative Extension – NYC Programs, Cornell Tech, and BioBus, Inc.

For more information on workshops, please email us at communityaffairs@med.cornell.edu.

Government & Community Affairs 1300 York Ave., Box 314 New York, NY 10065