Each spring, Seattle Girls’ School sixth graders put on their scrubs and become doctors for the day for the “Sum of My Parts” Medical Board Exams, a science culmination of learning.
At the start of the term, SGS sixth graders enter “Medical School,” where they learn about all the systems that make up the human body, choosing to focus on a specific system of which to build a more intimate knowledge. After creating a lesson plan and partnering with a classmate to teach their system to groups of first graders, students pick a condition or “specialty” within their focus system and become experts on the topic.
To celebrate all of their hard work in Medical School, students end the term by taking the “Medical Board Exams,” where they are asked questions about their specialty by a board of practicing doctors and scientists. Looking to their conversations with email experts and their own research, students stand and deliver their knowledge and critical thinking on their topics, cheered on by family and friends. This year we heard about a large range of topics – from acne to Ebola. Let’s hear what our young doctors had to say!
Sixth-grader Mica W. decided to specialize in asthma because it’s a condition that runs in her family. When we asked Mica why she thinks it’s important to learn about the human body, she said, “I mean, it’s our body! So, we should totally know about them. I just find it really interesting. And I like science a lot.” Mica also explained the importance of learning to do your own research. “Learning about things on your own is really important. If I want to learn about something, I should know how to do it and how to find good, trustworthy sources.”
Frances F., who specialized in strokes, liked that they were able to collaborate with other students to prepare for the final culmination. “We were put into breakout rooms (on Zoom), and we would basically ask each other practice questions. It really prepared us because we got used to talking to people about our specific specialty and answering specific questions.” Her advice to the fifth graders who will be taking the Board Exams next year: “Don’t be too worried. Just come prepared and just do as much research as you can ahead of time.”
Amelia A. described what it was like to go through Medical School while also in middle school. “It was exciting and nerve-racking. We had a bunch to cram in a very short time.” Dr. Amelia followed some sound advice from her mom to prepare for the exam: “If you try to overwhelm yourself with everything at once, you’re going to drown in your own work. So let’s try and separate everything! I started with some basic questions like ‘What does the condition do?’ and ‘What parts of the body or system in the body is it in?’ ‘What are the risk factors and complications.’”
Violet H.B. had a personal connection to the condition that she chose: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). One of her friends had ALL, so she knew a little about the condition already. “It was nice getting to know other people better when we were practicing,” Dr. Violet explained. When asked about what she gained from the experience, she said, “I learned to speak in front of people, I learned how to research, and I learned how to manage my time in a way that actually works. I also learned how to email people formally.”
The sixth grade Medical Board Exams are made possible by a group of incredible doctors who volunteer their time each spring. Dr. Bobbie Paramsothy is a cardiologist at Pacific Medical Centers and has participated in the Seattle Girls’ School Board Exams for many years. “It’s such a fun way for young girls to think about science and medicine, and it’s great practice in speaking publicly,” she explains. “And it’s done in a way that is really supportive. They talk about what they’ve researched and share their knowledge, and in science, it’s really important to be able to talk about what you’ve learned.”
Thank you to all the students who worked so hard in Medical School this year, and to all of the staff, parents, and doctors who made the first virtual Medical Board Exams a huge success!
These kinds of unique learning experiences are what make our school special and prepare students to become leaders in their communities. Support future classes of student doctors at Seattle Girls’ School with your gift to the Rise Up campaign today! www.sgs-riseup.org.