Middle and high school students around the state are volunteering as advisors for those conducting research to help children.
Their group is called K.I.D.S. – kids and families impacting disease through science. Recently, Dr. Sharon Smith of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center brought a group of K.I.D.S. to UConn to help a research team develop a nutrition app.
“It’s understandable by children. It’s clear. It’s not scary or intimidating,” she said. “The undergrad students who are just on the cusp of becoming researchers and learning about research and how to approach families - they get to interact with the younger kids.”
UConn biology major Jay Lin is evaluating the impact of food preferences by looking at body mass index and waist circumference. “The issue is that most of us spend a lot of time in the classroom,” he said. “We don't spend a lot of time interacting with kids-the kids that we are trying to learn about.”
Seventh grader Daniel Clark gives feedback to researchers on how to understand the point of view of his peers. “I get to kind of teach the doctors about how to treat kids,” he said.
Researchers aren’t the only ones benefitting from this experience. Some high school students like junior Hadleigh Thompson use it as a preview of a possible medical career.
“My knowledge has increased so much about things like research, medicine, and innovation,” she said.