KIM Seattle: where 5th graders can dissect pig hearts

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trevor and Sgian in the Pig Heart Dissection module
Photo by Melissa Crawford

Program that keeps kids’ attention
By Angelique Phillips

Expose. Hook. Mentor.

This is the mission of Kids in Medicine and Science, a program that provides students with both science education and laboratory experience.

Kids in Medicine and Science, more commonly known as KIMSeattle, is a nonprofit program for students ranging all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade.

KIMSeattle’s Founder and Executive Director, Joanie Block, talked about how she was a part of another medical education and training nonprofit before KIMSeattle. Her child’s teacher at Brookside Elementary in Shoreline invited her to do presentations that aligned with their health and community learning units.

As she was designing the facility she noticed how interested her son was with the equipment.

“He was just really inspired just by being there and so I had the idea to bring kids into the facility and teach them on the same platform that we were designing for physicians, which was essentially small, lots of hands on type work” said Joanie.

According to administrators, KIMSeattle’s goal is to get students interested in science at a young age, and keep them interested throughout their educational journey.

KIMSeattle offers several different programs; their sessions being held either through outreach by the program, meaning they go to the school requesting the session, or at Shoreline Community College.

Shoreline Community College partners with the KIMSeattle program by providing a space for the teachers of the program to teach the students involved. SCC allows KIMSeattle to bring students to utilize one of their science laboratories while partaking in activities such as a full pig heart dissection.
Photo by Angelique Phillips

This partnership with the college gives students the opportunity to work within a laboratory, completing things such as a full pig heart dissection.

“Every program needs to be authentic -- real instruments, tissue, lab supplies or whatever it is,” said Joanie Block.

Shoreline Community College isn’t the program’s only tie to the Shoreline area.

Joanie’s a Shoreline parent herself and has recruited current and retired Shoreline Schools teachers for the program. Current district teachers Matt Alford and Denise Peters volunteer as their schedules permit. Retired district teachers and principals volunteering with the program include Kaydee McGillvray, Paul Lesh, Lori Longo, and Joan Lesh - who was the teacher that originally invited Joanie to make presentations in her classroom.

KIMSeattle intern Lauren Hanna talked about the relationship KIMSeattle has with the Shoreline community, and how just Einstein, Kellogg, and Shorecrest High School have all participated in the program.

The program tries to spread itself between elementary, middle and high school students, but in an effort to raise money, KIMSeattle scaled back its teaching this past school year.

“Many schools are long-term customers, but increasing demand outweighs our capacity. This results in our having to turn down 50 percent of requests for programs each year,” said Lauren.

In order to combat this lack of funding, KIMSeattle has plans to create versions of their program suitable for distribution. This distribution will not only expand the program’s reach, but also potentially generate revenue.

Stillwater 5th graders in the class portion
of the Heart Module program
Photo by Melissa Crawford


It is efforts like these that will allow more students to have an experience like Cody, a 5th grade student at Stillwater Elementary.

Cody and his classmates in Stillwater Elementary 5th grade classes participated in KIMSeattle’s program called The Heart Module. In this module, students are given the opportunity to perform a pig heart dissection and are taught about things like heart disease and the ways the blood flows through the heart.

In Cody’s post-lab report he talks about the pig heart he and his classmates were able to both look at and cut into. “There’s a lot of blood in the human body. Pretty cool,” he wrote in his report.

KIMSeattle strives to meet every student where they’re at, whether it’s teaching elementary students like Cody, Trevor, and their 5th grade classmates, or students just about to enter into college.

“What we found in our outcome data following a heart module, which was initially surprising, was kids reported that they wanted to exercise, eat healthy and learn more about their bodies,” said Joanie.

The program wants kids to walk away wanting to take better care of themselves, and through things like donations and people stepping up to volunteer with the program, KIMSeattle can continue to teach the next generation.



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