Lab Matters Spring 2020 | Page 25

NEWBORN SCREENING Virginia Holds First-Ever Newborn Screening Student Event by Wanda “Willie” Andrews, BSMT (ASCP), director of laboratory operations, Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services; Leigh-Emma Lion, MS, newborn screening group manager, Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services; Sari Edelman, MPH, senior specialist, NewSTEPs; and Ruthanne Sheller, MPH, senior specialist, NewSTEPs On February 1, the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) in Richmond, Virginia sponsored a newborn screening (NBS) event targeted to seventh and eighth grade students. The event was designed to increase the public’s awareness of the NBS system and of public health careers. Despite having to postpone the event due to conflicts around the holiday season, the planning team successfully recruited 16 students from surrounding schools to attend the event. Once attendees were checked in by DCLS staff and security, they were given event-branded T-shirts and swag bags, which included NBS and DCLS educational information. The morning began with a presentation by DCLS NBS staff about the importance and history of NBS and public health laboratories. Students, volunteers and parents were asked their favorite subject in middle school. That question revealed wide interests and led to discussion of career paths and opportunities in public health. Throughout the day, students engaged in hands-on laboratory science activities and rotated through four stations that highlighted various aspects of the NBS system: • An escape room that covered specimen collection, courier transport and sample accessioning in the laboratory • A hemoglobin laboratory exercise, where students read previously run and stained gels to determine results • A deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) extraction activity in the laboratory which utilized kits donated by Bio-Rad • A follow-up exercise where students role-played scenarios relative to calling out/receiving results. Middle schools students participate in hands-on NBS laboratory science activities During the event, parents who stayed were invited to participate in a comprehensive tour of DLCS’s public health and environmental laboratory. The event concluded with a wrap-up of the day, a competitive quiz to test students’ knowledge and a walk-through of the NBS laboratory. Post-event, a survey was distributed to students and parents thanking them for attendance, providing several pictures from the day and requesting feedback about their experiences. Five parents and two students responded to the survey, noting an extremely positive experience and desire for more opportunities similar to this event. One parent noted that they liked “Staff involvement, hands on, and an overall wonderful event.” n Advice for Event Planners The planning team recommends the following to laboratories that wish to sponsor a similar event: Convene a planning team several months prior to the event. The planning team met routinely to review recruitment and student event stations, as well as marketing, volunteer needs and logistical considerations. Meeting frequency was increased closer to the event. Provide as much information as possible on the invitation. A flyer and Eventbrite link were disseminated to surrounding schools and to targeted middle school science teachers. The Eventbrite page also included security information and reminders about DCLS logistics and drop-off. Confirm attendance. Students and/ or parents were contacted to confirm registration and logistics via phone and email. Work in small groups. Students were separated into four teams, which allowed for small, targeted learning sessions. Assign volunteer roles in advance. APHL volunteers and DCLS NBS staff accompanied students throughout the day. They were assigned roles as group leaders, station leaders, photographers, registration leaders, greeters and floaters. Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services and Deparment of Health staff, along with APHL volunteers, prior to the students’ arrival PublicHealthLabs @APHL Spring 2020 LAB MATTERS 23