Students get an inside look at infectious disease with Dr. Rebecca Shadowen
|Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2012||Return|
Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page
More than 200 sixth graders from four area elementary schools strained skyward as teachers tossed rainbows of balloons into the air in the Downing University Center auditorium January 23. The urge to nab a bright balloon hit the previously still students as strong as a sneeze. But they didn't know they were grabbing symbols of the very germs released in such an expulsion. "Those of you who aren't holding a balloon are the luckiest ones of all," announced infectious disease expert Dr. Rebecca Shadowen as the audience quieted. "Everybody else, let's see what you've caught."
Green-balloon holders, a cold. Yellow-balloons holders, influenza. Red-balloon holders, tuberculosis.
Infectious disease can travel that easily in confined spaces if we do not take proper precautions, explained Dr. Shadowen, the director of infection control and epidemiologist at two Bowling Green hospitals.
Her presentation was a part of Project GEMS (Gifted Education in Math and Science) —a partnership between The Center for Gifted Studies and Warren County Public Schools. The initiative focuses on generating interest and developing talent in disciplines related to science and math and encouraging careers in STEM disciplines.
Dr. Shadowen took Project GEMS students from North Warren, Lost River, Bristow, and Cumberland Trace elementary schools on an infectiously engaging journey through time and space, learning at every destination from an unfiltered airplane cabin to a lake in Asia. First the group traveled to the past to discover the epidemiological secret behind Napoleon Bonaparte's failed invasion of Russia in 1812.
"The fall of Napoleon was not because of an army," Shadowen said. "The fall of Napoleon was because of lice." In 2001, mass graves containing thousands of Napoleon's troops were discovered in Vilnius, Lithuania, the place where roughly 25,000 of the original half million men retreated. Infectious disease experts examined the remains and determined that louse-borne pathogens caused many of the army's deaths and contributed heavily to its defeat. "If not for that, we could all be speaking French right now," Shadowen said.
Any students unfazed by this revelation faced startling images and facts when the group returned to the present and traveled to the Far East to examine Japanese Encephalitis Virus and Elephantiasis. Store-bought insect repellant can prevent both diseases, which are transmitted by mosquitoes. But people unfortunate enough to contract either can face dire or disfiguring side effects. Dr. Shadowen demonstrated this with pictures that received audible gasps from the audience and became North Warren sixth-grader Seth Shockley's favorite part of the presentation. "Elephantiasis is something you don't hear about every day," he said. "You just see what could happen with us and this disease."
Bristow Elementary's Brianna Duke, 11, most enjoyed learning what actually did happen to those infected with smallpox before Edward Jenner developed a vaccine in the late 1790s. She grimaced at pictures of more modern cases and felt inspired by the World Health Organization's declaration that the disease had been eradicated in 1979. "I felt bad for those people," she said.
Shadowen noted that the sixth graders' sympathy could some day turn to medical success as their generation works to tackle the infectious diseases still impacting the world today, such as tuberculosis and leprosy. So while the students' journey with Dr. Shadowen ended up back at Western Kentucky University in 2011, she noted, their future destinations were waiting expectantly ahead. "You never know what you could do until you try," she said.
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Conferencing & Catering
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- JUNE 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS July 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
The Family and Consumer Sciences department at WKU is pleased to announce that it has received notice that the Interior Design Bachelor of Science degree has been granted accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
Dr. Scott Lyons, Director of the School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport (KRS) at Western Kentucky University, was recently recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a new Fellow of the College.
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,