With a real doctor researching on space medicine
Please find a Japanese version of this report here.
Let us take a look back at Academy Camp VR 2021.9 - "You explore! Amazing Modern & Near-Future Medicine". The event was held over three days from September 18 to 20, 2021. 13 children from Fukushima and the rest of Japan joined this virtual reality (VR) camp from home.
In the morning of the first day, we gathered together with Zoom to warm up the place, and then went through various CG videos and explanations to learn about the new coronavirus and mRNA vaccines. Many of the elementary and junior high school students were surprised to learn that viruses use the mechanisms of RNA transcription and protein synthesis in human cells to multiply, while mRNA vaccines use the same strategies of viruses to synthesize viral spike proteins using the mechanisms of human cells. It was a double surprise to many of us.
In the afternoon, we explored the VR world. Since some of the participants were new to VR, we took our time to learn how to enter VRChat, and then went to the "Academy Camp VR Venue", underground on the Moon, to think about what it would be like to be injured or sick in space. A simple experimental facility was set up beside the hall of the venue, and through demonstrations, we learned that even basic things like intravenous drip infusion depend on the Earth's gravitational environment, and on the Moon, you have to drop the fluid from a ridiculous height to get it into your veins.
In the morning of the second day, we actually read the code of Pfizer's vaccine letter by letter. First, as a review, we looked at the transcription of DNA to RNA, and the synthesis of proteins from the information encoded in RNA, in detail, starting from the structure of DNA and the mechanism of replication. The impact of the CG video was so strong that many children were fascinated by it, even though they felt these moving objects were weird. By learning about the structure of mRNA in detail through reading the code of Pfizer's vaccine, the children were able to read the diagram showing the structure of the new coronavirus that was briefly introduced on the first day.
From the afternoon of the second day to the morning of the third day, we continued to 3D-paint the characters(?) of the VR cell world. We were divided into two groups: "painters of immune cell networks (roughly in microns; tens to hundreds of meters in the VR cell world)" and "painters of factories inside cells (roughly in nanometers; centimeters in the VR cell world)". The children painted various cells, DNA, RNA, enzymes, etc.
In the afternoon, we invited a doctor who is a space medicine researcher, and discussed medical care in space, which will always be an issue when people live in space. We also discussed various questions about our bodies (regenerative medicine, etc.), not only about space medicine. The doctor said that he rarely has a chance to talk with elementary and junior high school students, so we had a good time together!
The final closing session was held in the VR cell world that was still in the process of being created, where viruses fall from the sky. One by one, we talked about our impressions of the camp, and spontaneously developed the mysterious manner of jumping and disappearing from sight after speech! (It's a jump, so they came down after a while.) After taking a commemorative group photo with the viruses, the short three-day VR camp ended.
Some days later, a junior high school student member asked, "What about the second half of 'Modern & Near Future Medicine'? When are we going to do it?" Well, why not? After all, the VR cell world is still in the process of being built! We love to gather again, and have time to create the world together.
GIVING TUESDAY IS APPROACHING
Please get ready to join GlobalGiving’s #GivingTuesday campaign taking place on Tuesday, November 30, at 12:00am. ET! Your support will help Academy Camp and the children of Fukushima, as well as children all over Japan, to continue their adventure.
Device to demonstrate intravenous infusion on Moon
Everyone pretends they know how to replicate DNA
Let's 3D-paint DNA and its replication
Group photo in the cell world in the making
Off to another fun VR world together