Children from the Early Learning Center gather around the da Vinci robot demonstration using the game Operation

Credit: Jim Burger for Johns Hopkins University


Future engineers visit mock operating room

Children from the Homewood Early Learning Center visited a state-of-the-art recreation of an operating room in Hackerman Hall last week

Over the hill and through the quad, children from the Homewood Early Learning Center took a short field trip to the Whiting School of Engineering's acclaimed "Mock OR" Wednesday morning.

The Swirnow Mock Operating Room in Hackerman Hall, a state-of-the-art recreation of a real-life operating room, is a research incubator focused on surgical robotics. During the special tour, researchers from the school's Advanced Robotics and Computationally Augmented Environment (ARCADE) group gave the children a close-up look at some of the lab's coolest gadgets.

Video credit: Jim Trone and Patrick Ridgely

Activities included watching a da Vinci robot play the classic board game Operation and visiting a virtual reality zoo with giraffes, gorillas, and lions. The children even danced in front of the augmented reality "magic mirror" to get a virtual view of their own anatomy, which revealed bones, blood vessels, and muscles.

The children asked questions and seemed excited to interact with the high-tech tools—indicating that, perhaps, there may be a few future engineers in the bunch.

"As Einstein is credited with saying, 'If you can't explain it in simple terms, you don't understand it well enough.' Explaining and demonstrating some of our research tools to the youngest in our Homewood community was definitely a challenge, and we were excited to see the children engage with our exhibits and enjoy themselves," said Mathias Unberath, an assistant professor of computer science who coordinated the visit.