Heart Mechanics: Inspiring cardio engineers of the future

Baylab UK launched the new science workshop "Heart Mechanics". Pupils from St Bernard’s School, Slough, were the first students to experience the new workshop that brings to life how the cardiovascular system works, the various parts that make it run, and what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly.

 

Developed by Baylab UK and the General Medicine teams, the free Heart Mechanics workshops are aimed at schoolchildren aged 7-13 years and are designed to educate on the cardiovascular system and heart health.

The four-hour workshop has been created to support teachers deliver the national curriculum for science and aims to enhance the learning experience in an innovative and fun way. Students have the opportunity to create their own fake blood, use oximeters to measure heart rate and conduct experiments to better understand how the cardiovascular system works. The workshop will also help students understand the vital role of the heart, its functions and the circulatory system and why it is important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

At a launch event earlier in the week when Bayer colleagues were invited to find out more about the workshop and try out the experiments in the Baylab UK, head of General Medicine, Richard Condon, explained: “The Heart Mechanics workshop was borne out of a conversation with the most motivated and inspirational cardiologist, Dr Klaus Witte. He is based in Leeds and is a Bayer customer and, having seen the Baylab, he actively pursued us to develop the missing piece in our STEM armamentarium – Heart Mechanics.”

Dr Witte, senior lecturer and consultant cardiologist, University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has lent his persona to a ‘real heart mechanic’, a cartoon character in the films that accompany the workshops. In these films, he describes the heart as the ‘engine’ which powers the machine (the body) and the circulatory system as the ‘roads’, delivering vital blood and oxygen to the organs. Students will also be introduced to diseases that can make the ‘machine’ stop working and the healthy life choices that prevent complications and how to maintain good cardiovascular health.

The inaugural workshop was conducted by Dr Witte in person who brought along his three children to take part.

“The Heart Mechanics workshop at Baylab UK offers a novel approach to teaching schoolchildren about the heart and science in general,” Dr Witte said. “Cardiovascular disease continues to be a challenge for society and a major limitation to healthy ageing; therefore, it is crucial that younger generations are educated on the function of the heart and the cardiovascular system and how a sensible lifestyle and dietary choices can contribute to overall long term health and wellbeing.”

 

The Heart Mechanics workshop is the latest topic in a variety of existing workshops available for schools. Since opening its doors to schools in March 2017, Baylab UK has held more than 200 workshops and welcomed over 7,000 students and 300 teachers to date.

 

“The Baylab provides a unique teaching experience as it has been specially designed to help bring science to life, using equipment and resources not often available to pupils and teachers,” commented Emma Schierbaum, Baylab UK manager. “As a teacher myself, I know how children can benefit from an interactive, hands-on learning experience, especially on complex subjects such as cardiovascular health. I’m excited to welcome pupils to the first Heart Mechanics workshop and look forward to future workshops with schools from across the country”.

The Heart Mechanics workshops are part of a broader initiative which will see the workshops offered to schools across the country when it goes on the road in 2020, taking a tour around four cardio super-centres, starting with Dr Witte’s Leeds teaching hospital. This will be supported by an online Teacher’s Pack and a national science competition for schools to win science and sports equipment.

“The tour, online resources and competition will ensure that the message about healthy hearts and beating parts reaches schoolchildren up and down the UK even if they can’t reach the Baylab here in Reading,” Richard said.

“I am proud and happy to be making these investments and creating a legacy of making a difference to a lot of children.”