LSU Health New Orleans turned out in force to inspire a passion for science at STEM Fest hosted by the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans at the Caesar Superdome. Faculty, staff and students from four schools volunteered at the event.

About 3,200 kids and their families participated. They were fascinated and sometimes astounded at what they saw at LSU Health’s tables.

Dr. Sergiy Rusnak, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, brought “Appollo,” a high-fidelity human patient simulator. This life-size mannequin blinks, breathes and responds as a human patient would. The kids heard heart and lung sounds, felt pulses, and saw the heart rate and ECG strip on the patient monitor. After they resuscitated the “patient” when he crashed, there were cheers, applause and confirmation that “you saved him!”

The human anatomic specimens that Geri Davis, MEd, BA, Office of Diversity & Community Engagement Outreach Coordinator, brought provoked a lot of questions. “Are they real?” “They can’t be real, can they?” When she assured them that they were, the astonished looks on faces young and old were priceless. Then, “Can I touch it?” followed by choruses of “What’s this and that?”

Medical students Calia Schexnayder (L3), Michael Alfred (L2), Paris Bailey (L2), Aysha Gibson (L2), Ashley Paysse (L2), Drew Bookman (L1), Patricia Mensah (L1), and Elge Stevens (L1) taught the youngsters what’s inside the body and how it works at both tables.

School of Nursing’s Nakayla Quattlebaum, Student Recruiter, along with students Morgan Breaux, Hailey Allen and Rebekah Serrett, showed the children and their parents how germy their hands were with the “Glow Germ” tool. When the black light hit their hands, surprised responses ranged from “Gross,” “Eeeewww,” and “Yuck!” from the kids to “I can’t believe how dirty my kids are!” from a parent. Calls for hand sanitizer were immediate!

Healthy eating was the theme at the School of Public Health’s table. Dr. Henry Nuss, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Community Health, and student Jacquelyn Mornay set up a MyPlate display where the kids could design their own healthy meals by applying food cut-outs onto their plates. Food models helped the younger children connect to the conversation. For one toddler, that connection was so strong she didn’t want to give up the plastic piece of watermelon. Thankfully, colorful food stickers proved to be an adequate trade!

Dr. John Zamjahn, Professor of Clinical Cardiopulmonary Science and Director of the Advanced Respiratory Therapy Program, and students Hoang Nguyen, My Do and Nedda Iweinat at the School of Allied Health Professions’ table wowed the crowd with a pig lung. To demonstrate positive pressure breathing, students used a resuscitation AMBU bag attached to an adapter on top of the Plexiglas box that was in communication with the pig lung to inflate the lungs. For negative pressure breathing, they used a 3-liter syringe attached to the Plexiglas box to create negative pressure around the lung (mimicking intrapleural pressure). They also placed an endotracheal tube in a mannequin head and “breathed” for it with a resuscitation AMBU bag.

A popular exhibit, the lines were deep at the LSU Health tables all day long. The LSU Health volunteers’ efforts seemed to hit their mark as one young student exclaimed, “This is awesome. There’s so much for me to learn!”