Monday, May 13, 2013

My Week On: Lab Week Edition

So this post really started out as a post about Flower Gems and then turned into a whole "look how crafty our transfusion department was for lab week" thing. 

Flower Gems (aka red blood cells)

These things are SO COOL!  My coworker initially found them to make a string of lights to run down the middle of the lab.  All you do is add water to these tiny, bead-like polymers and they expand to fit their space which, in this case, was test tubes.  Next she popped a light into each tube and this was the result:

The obvious thing to do with these flower gems was to experiment.  I am, after all, a scientist.  I placed one gem in each well of an ABO reagent plate (we use for automated testing, I use for science)

and added water. 

I really hoped that each of these beauties would erupt out their well, but alas they conformed to their space and no further.  Either way, they are still awesome and I can't wait to buy some of these to play with at home.

Tissue Paper Poof Balls (aka white blood cells)

Another coworker of mine made thousands of these for her she volunteered to make a few more for our lab week decorations.  They are are also super awesome!  You take a square of tissue paper, fold it accordian style, gather it in the middle, and then poof it out.  Then, if you are the only guy in the department sick of working with craft-hungry chics, you place said poof ball on your head.  And see if anyone notices. 

Bruce, the Hemolygator

I received some parts to do a quick repair on an instrument of ours.  When I was done, I was cleaning up and about to throw the packaging when I paused, looked at it, and thought: that looks like an alligator.  So I found a few pom-poms and drew on a nose.  Then a coworker thought it should be named Bruce and eat red blood cells.  Then another coworker thought "if it eat's red blood cells, it should be called a hemolygator."  So that's how Bruce, the Hemolygator and transfusion lab week mascot was born.  He's still around.  I dare anyone to throw him away.

Cookie Differentials

This is actually the second time we've done this.  The two ladies in the picture were the originators along with myself and another who no longer works here.  I think we are also the only ones who participated in this--which is too bad because it is only the best activity that we have done.  Ever.  Basically, you decorate cookies to look like different types of red or white blood cells seen on a cell differential (a hematology test.)  We had to do thousands (an exaggeration?  I wish...) while we were students.  It's fun to know all our hard work paid off when we get to use our knowledge in fun ways.

Here are mine for the year: a megakaryocyte (which would have looked so much more awesome with whoppers instead of raisins,) a howell jolly body in an erythrocyte, a lymphocyte with an inclusion which I can't remember (but I'm sure this all sounds like latin anyway, so it doesn't matter) and a neutrophil in a patient with Chediak Higashi syndrome.

The best part is being able to eat them.

Monday, May 6, 2013


For preschool a few weeks back, we had a Luau theme.  It was really anything related to Hawaii but the other 'L' themes (from the site I get my theme ideas from) seemed sort of Lame.  haha...  So Luau it was.  We learned about beaches and oceans too.  My daughter seemed to really like it.

The part she liked best, however, was SCIENCE!  That 'a kid.  Naturally, we had to make our own volcano.  I'm sure every parent in america remembers doing this when they were kids, even going so far as to build a paper mache cone and awaiting anxiously the "lava" that erupted.  Every parent but me, that is.  I had never done this before.  So it was a true science experiment for both of us.

Rather than go the fancy paper mache route, we just used an old sparkling cider bottle that we had.  Luckily I had the foresight to put the experiment in an easy-to-clean mixing bowl. 

I put a few table spoons of baking soda in the bottle, along with a few drops of food coloring for effect.  I added the vinegar and waited for the explosion, and...nothing.  Not at all worried, I grabbed the bottle, put my thumb over the hole and shook it up a little bit.  Then I poured in A LOT of vinegar and the lava started to flow!  My daughter was so excited!

Okay, I was a little excited too!