Cherry Marshmallow is a creative seventh grader who wants to be a pediatrician. For her project, she researched sickle cell anemia, a disease she has. Cherry Marshmallow is also a budding writer and chose to present her research in the form of a play, starring herself, other participants, the library media specialist, and even a couple of the researchers! In her final interview, she commented on how HackHealth changed her search habits and that she uses what she learned during the program in her classwork: “I would still do that [click on the first link on a Google search results page], but I would make sure it’s credible first.”
Chocolate Rain is an effervescent seventh grader. She has not yet selected a future career, but showed great empathy throughout the program and describes herself as “a social person.” Her initial research topic was broad, developmental disabilities, but she eventually narrowed it to dyslexia. She took an interest in this research area as a result of trying to better understand a student in her gym class who is living with a developmental disability. She chose dyslexia because she wanted to explain to her schoolmates that it is indeed an obstacle to learning. As she told a researcher in an interview, “There’s a boy at my school who has a disorder too, and we make fun of him. It’s all laughs, like laughs and games, but then you think about it. How does he feel? What’s his feeling towards being this way? He might be thinking, why am I this way, why am I that way?”
Ariana is a vibrant eighth grader. She’s interested in becoming a nurse. She chose to study heart disease for her final project because she found it interesting. When asked how she would describe HackHealth, she said, “Fun and… exciting… You get to learn more websites that you didn’t know, and explore the websites.”
Nicole wants to be a veterinarian, but right now (a precocious 6th grader) she wants to help keep her bunny healthy. She researched rabbit pregnancy, because she suspected her rabbit was soon to bring a litter into the world. A few weeks into the program we learned she was right – fifteen bunnies! Armed with the information she had researched, she instructed her father to keep all the other adult rabbits away from the new mom, and provided extra foliage and water. Then they set to finding the little ones new homes! When asked why it is important to identify the author and year of information on line she said, “Because maybe if you look for something it was in the eighties and now in this year it won’t work because maybe it was old old and now you have a new problem.”
Tia is a seventh grader. She wants to be a veterinarian, but first she wants to assuage her father’s fears about having a heart attack. Her paternal grandfather suffered one shortly before she participated in HackHealth, so she had her topic selected very early. In her project, she focused on the causes of heart attacks as well as preventative measures. When asked if she had used her research to help someone, she admitted that she used it to try and convince her father that the family needs a dog – for health reasons! She said, “I told him for example you could go walk your dog… and so I was like, hey we should get a dog. It really helps and he was like ‘Talk to your mom.’”
Jerry is a seventh grader. He wants to be either an archaeologist or a veterinarian. For his research project, he investigated comas. Jerry presented a digital comic that he made about what causes comas and the behavioral disturbances people may have when they come out of a coma. Did you know that in order for a coma to occur, there has to be an underlying illness or previous injury? Jerry explained this in his presentation. He also told us that he would recommend the internet as a source for health information “because it’s useful… You can’t always go every day to the doctor and ask for answers.”
Kelly wants to be a nurse. She is a seventh grader. She also has asthma, which she chose to research for her HackHealth project. In our interview after her presentation, a Prezi, she explained that she felt more empowered “because…I know how to search, on information how to control my health.”
AndySixx is a sixth-grader and turns 12 soon. She would like to be a teacher or maybe a professional piano player! Right now she listens to Emo music; it’s a genre where the lyrics and instrumentals are meant to stir emotions, usually sad ones. AndySixx noticed that many of the songs mention self-harm, and so she decided to research self-harm. Her project, a newscast we recorded, covered warning signs, hotline information, and suggestions for confronting and comforting a friend in need. “Call a hotline to talk to a center in your area. Suicide is never the answer. This has been [AndySixx] coming to you live from [Middle School]. Thank you for listening!”
Majesty chose to research the functions of the brain, because she wants to grow up to be a neurosurgeon like Benjamin Carson. She is 14 years old and starting high school next year. When we asked if she noticed changes in herself as a result of HackHealth, she said “Yes, now I…like [to] learn more about health, and I don’t want to focus on TV in my spare time.”
Mr. Science Guy
Mr. Science Guy chose the sensitive topic of HIV/AIDS because he wanted to learn more about his aunt’s condition and how it is treated and prevented. He is 13 years old and a 7th grader. When asked what he sees himself doing in the future, he said, “Being a child psychiatrist, helping little children who … really can’t connect with their parents and they need someone else to talk to that’s like, not family.”
Nunu is a future radiologist, though for right now she is a 7th grader. Her detailed presentation was on breast cancer: causes, types of cells involved, treatments, and preventative measures. When asked how she shared what she learned in HackHealth with loved ones, she said, “First I showed them like how to like tie down the things that you’re looking for…and …what can cause breast cancer and the treatments and stuff. That’s what I told my family.”
StarWars is a vivacious 13-year-old about to enter high school. She researched heart disease in women and told the group about warning signs to be aware of. When asked where she sees herself in the future, she said “[Johns] Hopkins”, taking “biology in college.”
Kaylie is a 13-year-old in 7th grade. She researched migraines in order to help her grandmother and aunt to be able to better manage their migraines. This is hardly a surprise, considering her ambition is to become a doctor. She says that she has changed how she searches for information now that she has completed the HackHealth program “…before [HackHealth], we just put the information, we just press probably the first one or just scroll down or …don’t look for anything and once we find it we just like write it down, we don’t see like if it’s a blog or a commercial something…[but now] I’m careful in what I see.”
Tiny became interested in sickle cell anemia after watching a movie about a girl who had it. Tiny is 13 and in 7th grade. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she said, “I want to be a nurse…cause I feel like nurses have a very important role other than just doctors.”
Jennifer is in 6th grade and wants to be either a teacher or a doctor. She researched foot pain in order to help her mother, who is on her feet all day at work. Her presentation covered foot health, other musculoskeletal issues that can arise from poor foot care, and recommendations for treatment (which she reported her mom would be employing). Jennifer told us, “… health issues are important, but you don’t get that interested in them until you [or] someone has it or you… really are interested in it.”
Phenomenal was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a toddler. He stated early in the program, “…if I have some help I’ll be able to figure out how I can cure people who have diabetes, so then nobody will have to suffer what I suffer.” For his presentation, he focused on informing his schoolmates about the disease and ways to encourage healthy behaviors in those who have it.
Captain is 14 and in the 7th grade. He wants to be an astronomer when he grows up. His presentation was about brain diseases. In an interview, he said, “If like one of my family members, like if they get it, I’m going to be the one like researching more information about that, like brain diseases and stuff, so I can help them, like beat the disease …”
Jaysa is a 15-year-old in the 8th grade. She wants to be a pediatrician and for her project she researched peptic ulcers. For her presentation, she created a colorful poster which detailed causes, symptoms, types of ulcers, and treatments. The serious nature of her topic may have tempered her health outlook. She said, “I used to be like, you know I don’t care, just leave it alone, but now you know you could die from not caring, you could, it could get worse, or you could even go like to a hospital.” Jaysa has become more aware of her responsibility for personal health.
JMoney wants to be a travel nurse in order to work in a variety of locations throughout her career, wherever she is needed. She is 14 and in the 8th grade. She presented an information-rich poster about stress: a definition, a disclaimer, adverse health effects, behavioral symptoms, emotional symptoms, physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and coping suggestions. JMoney said, “Before HackHealth I would just click on like any one [search result] and then write down whatever.” Now she strives to find the most trustworthy information.