It was your typical science symposium, focusing on trends in medical research and the latest technological advancements. There were Powerpoint presentations, Q&A sessions, and a student dressed up in a cardboard robot suit.
A what now?
It is the mashup of scientific curiosity and artistic creativity that makes the annual Annenberg High School Science Symposium such a unique learning opportunity. The 14 Malvern Prep students who took part in the symposium on March 10 at Paoli Hospital spent weeks learning about technological developments in the medical field, including computer-assisted and robotic surgery. When it came time for the Malvern team to present their findings, they introduced “Leo,” a cardboard robot who helped a “doctor” perform an operation on a classmate. “Leo” got his nickname from the daVinci Surgical System used at Paoli Hospital.
The symposium is a unique partnership teaming physicians with high school students and their teacher advisors. The program brings together teams of students from local high schools to conduct an exploration of medical and scientific concepts. Students are challenged to study a scientific discovery and present it with an element of the creative arts - such as music, dance or theatrical drama.
This was the seventh year of the symposium and Malvern has participated since its inception. "We have had many different topics over the years from prosthetics to MRIs," said biology teacher Gary DiEnna, who served as an advisor on the symposium along with science department chair Tom Stewart. "This year we had a visiting doctor talk to us about robotic surgery. He was very informative and gave the students a lot of ideas for their presentation."
Malvern’s team consisted of Matthew Cornell, Julian Gaasche, JiWoong Jeong, John Kay, Jonathan Lambert, Jason Mara, Ryan Moran, Christopher Mudrick, Brian McDonough, Adam Pinos, Daniel Tarantino, Christopher Tiberi, Alexander Tran and Thomas Verdi. Their project was titled (naturally) "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto."
Also participating were teams from Conestoga High School, Episcopal Academy, and Great Valley High School. The moderator for the event was Barry Mann, M.D., Chief Academic Officer, Main Line Health and honorary judges were John Doyle, Vice President for Finance at Paoli Hospital; Aaron Giltner, MD, an internal medicine cardiovascular diseases physician at Paoli Hospital; and Bernadette Weis, Clinical Nurse Educator for Paoli Hospital.