Generation Rx Lab at COSI combines research, science and fun

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November 30, 2017

guests in lab
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Have you ever wandered past the large glass rooms with writing on the walls and wondered what happens in there? Each day, College of Pharmacy staff members educate COSI guests about medication safety through fun and interactive shows.

With most activities aimed at younger audiences, the lab staff use a medical robot named Bob the Abra Cadaver to simulate medical emergencies. Guests have to collect data and perform procedures to resolve Bob’s health crises, from allergic reactions to overdoses. Each simulation teaches guests about medication safety, such as not sharing medication and talking to doctors when a problem isn’t resolving. The lab also leads guests in hands-on pharmacology experiments.

“The Generation Rx Laboratory is actually research space, where we evaluate the use of pharmacology education tools in engaging science museum guests of all ages.  Can we facilitate the guests to think like scientists and learn the scientific process? Are they understanding not only basic biology and chemistry principles but also safe medication-taking practices? Our data suggests that these fun, interactive experience in the lab accomplish these outcomes quite well, said Nicole Kwiek, director of The Generation Rx Lab.

In addition to studying the guests, Dr. Kwiek said the lab is also studying the experience of the students who are teaching.

“The lab is staffed primarily by College of Pharmacy students,” she said. “We want to know if teaching within the lab is improving students’ communication skills. Being able to communicate complex topics in easy to understand ways will be very important in the student’s career – no matter which direction they take their degree.”

In addition to the COSI demonstrations, high school and college aged students who are not at the museum can also participate. Older students can teleconference with the Generation Rx lab staff to view a live demonstration about an opioid overdose. Students help the lab staff counsel a patient about their opioid medication prescription and the risks, and follow the patient’s journey with overusing the medication.

This lab, built through a partnership with COSI and funded by Cardinal Health, would not have been possible without many people working tirelessly for its success.

“The lab is the only museum-based pharmacology education laboratory in the world.  Its success wouldn’t have been possible without our dedicated postdoctoral fellows (including Drs. Molly Downing, Katie Summers, and Cynthia Canan) and students over the years. Additionally, the Cardinal Health Foundation’s strong financial support continues to make this innovative experience accessible to science learners all around the country,” says Kwiek.