Living Lab Comes Alive for Students

Freshmen and sophomore students taking Honors Biology were able to place themselves in the shoes of a Wright State University nursing student and behind the controls of a remote presence robot during a February field trip to the Living Laboratory in Centerville.

The Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio, headquartered on the campus of WSU, renovated the house now known as the Living Laboratory on the grounds of the Bethany Village Retirement Community in November 2009. Home to a family of human patient simulators and wired for video conferencing, the lab serves as a training and instructional facility for professionals in the healthcare industry as well as students.

“This technology is state of the art and on the cutting edge of the STEMM-related fields that we try to emphasize here at CJ,” said Amanda Ooten, science teacher and department co-chair.  She organized the field trip for two of her classes February 7 and 8 as a way of introducing CJ students to the principles of engineering, biomedical science, nursing and math on display at the lab.

Students were split into two groups for hands-on demonstrations led by members of the Nursing Institute’s professional staff. From inside the home, one group participated in treating the human patient simulators, which ranged in age from infant to adult and suffered from a variety of ailments. Treatments included administering shots, checking pupils, addressing wounds, and taking the heart-rate and blood pressure of the life-like, computer controlled mannequins.

Meanwhile, from a location outside of the Living Lab, a second group completed a robotics seminar and had the opportunity to monitor the activity in the lab by driving a remote presence robot named Morgan.  At just over five feet tall, the robot is mounted with a display monitor as well as a camera, and can be operated from nearly anywhere—a capability students tested first-hand by taking the controls of a similar robot in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“It’s like Skype for doctors,” explained Claire Meyers ’14, referencing the popular Internet video conferencing Web site. The technology, she added, breaks barriers by giving doctors the ability to diagnose patients, and teachers the ability to instruct students, without needing to be in the same room.

As one of roughly 40 CJ students in attendance, Meyers said she enjoyed being able to touch everything inside the Living Lab in order to literally get a feel for what it is like to be a nursing student.

“The trip gave me a greater understanding of what nurses in training go through,” she said of the job’s pressures. “If you mess up, it could cost someone their life.”