LabTutor Software used by talented middle school students at Michigan State University

Middle school students do not usually get the opportunity to perform human physiology experiments until they reach college or university levels. At Michigan State University (MSU), USA, home of one of the largest undergraduate physiology programs in the world, academically talented school students attending a two-week residential program are able to explore physiological concepts using PowerLab systems with LabTutor software.

The annual program with a Mathematics, Science and Technology plans to match the intellectual abilities of talented adolescents with challenging course work which provides enrichment, but does not duplicate or accelerate course work that is part of the regular K-12 school curriculum.

Emphasis on hands-on classes

Dr. Jill Slade, Assistant Professor of Radiology, with a joint appointment in the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Department runs the Physiology segment of the program. She places an emphasis on "hands-on" classes. During this year's workshop in July, the group of 20 visiting students was able to conduct some of the same LabTutor experiments performed by undergraduate students.

The physiology sessions were held in the state-of-the-art Biomedical & Physical Sciences Building at MSU. Dr. Slade chose to use PowerLab because it helps students to understand scientific principles. "PowerLab is a great applied tool that easily demonstrates concepts and physiological measures. After a background introduction, students were able to perform simple experiments with PowerLab," said Dr. Slade.

During the two week program, students get to act as scientists, performing experiments on themselves, using PowerLab systems to collect and analyze data. Experiments included ECG, pulse wave, pulse wave + ECG, the effect of arm position on pulse wave, the effect of cuff occlusion on pulse wave, valsalva and pulse wave, heart rate variability and heart rate, pulmonary function testing, breath holding with inhalation and exhalation, normal breathing and tidal volume, restricted lung disease and lung function test, obstructive lung disease and lung function test, muscle lab with pulse rate, amplitude effects, and fatigue.

Students Enjoyed Performing LabTutor Experiments

The students enjoyed using the equipment normally used by undergraduates. "The students enjoy human physiology and for most students it is the first time with this sort of equipment since they are only 7th and 8th graders. The students always love working with the easy-to-use PowerLab systems. Their favorite LabTutor experiment was the Muscle lab."

According to Dr. Slade, LabTutor allowed less reliance of students on the instructors. "It was much easier for students to follow LabTutor than working with paper labs."

Dr. Slade believes PowerLab systems do not need to be limited to tertiary usage only.

"I recommend PowerLabs for any middle school, high school or university. LabTutor is a nice program if you are a teacher who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time recreating labs. PowerLab is extremely easy to work with, the students really like using the equipment and it is extremely durable."