I had another presentation today. This one was for one group of high school students, and one group of (cue scary music: dun, dun dun) middle school kids. It was also shorter–like half the time we got last week. And I knew I could do a YouTube video, but I think that’s kind of a cop-out, especially with younger students.
I knew I wanted to get the students out of their seats, but didn’t really know how to teach ear anatomy, noise-induced hearing loss, or assisted listening devices like that. I thought about pictionary, but that’s really for review material–not novel teaching. I asked my mom and she said she only knew of active stuff for review and quizzing. When I pressed her, she said she could do like 8 activities for math, but not anatomy. Still, I asked her to give me a sample. The very first thing she talked about was using manipulatives. And my advisor had talked about how they had used a funnel to show the function of the pinna before with great success. That got me thinking. . .
My Mom (maybe both of us?) came up with putting “pieces of the ear” in a paper bag and having them kids pluck them out–you know for the gross-out factor of reaching into a bag not knowing what you’re going to get. Then I came up with all the little objects I could use to show each portion of the ear:
funnel for the pinna/outer ear
drum for the tympanic membrane/ear drum
a hammer for the malleus often called the “hammer”
I used a door stop and taped the anvil coffee logo on both sides for the “anvil”/incus
I had a tiny shoe keychain for the stapes/”stirrup” to show the footplate’s action
I put a brush in a ziplock and filled it with water to have a visual for the fluid-filled cochlea containing hair cells
and finally, a sponge was the brain
I had the kids pick the items and stand in the front of the room with them, in the proper order. I moved my arms (next time, I’ll have all the students at the desks wave their arms to involve everyone) to simulate the physical sound waves, then, I went through the function of each part of the anatomy:
My ear canal/funnel person stood there capturing the sound
The drum bagged to show sound hitting & vibrating it
Setting my 3 ossicles (w/interlinked arms) in motion (next time have them hum like a kazoo to show the ossicles vibrating).
My stapes person kicked the oval window on the bag
The inner ear person created gentle waves to stimulate the hair cells to send the sound info to the brain
And my brain/sponge was dipped in the water of the bag/cochlea to show the sound reaching its destination.
Then, we did the whole thing again, but I jumped up and down exaggerated to show LOUD sound. Everyone exaggerated their motions, the stapes footplate stomping the oval window to create a tsunami and flatten the hair cells. And that time the sponge (a 2nd sponge) remained dry and unhearing. It got everybody involved, laughing, and hopefully remembering the hearing process a little better. And I have to say I was on my A-Game, and really extroverted (not my normal way) and funny and in charge of the scene.
That allowed me to segway to the FM loop where the kids played Simon Says, one in the hallway and one in front of the group doing silly things.
I had a lot of fun, and felt “in the zone” rather then shy and nervous, so it was great. I could see myself doing little activities to promote prevention as an educational audiologist in my future. It’s not the same as having to discipline a whole class for an entire day, which is what I didn’t think I’d like about that option. Now, if I can only track down one of the many videos of the thing so I can put it in my portfolio!