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Emily Tompkins Sarah Faris Laura Hughes Eugene Maurakis Edward J Lesnefsky Raj R Rao Shilpa Iyer

Abstract

Mitochondrial dysfunction has correlated with a rise in energy deficiency disorders (EDD). The EDDs include mitochondrial disorders, obesity, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. Many individuals in our communities are at high risk of developing these disorders, yet are unaware of it. Our goal was to increase public awareness of mitochondrial health, whilst providing students with an innovative educational experience. We designed a ‘Bioenergetics exhibition’ by introducing Arts into traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) disciplines to create a new STEAM-(Health) initiative. Results indicated ~120,000 guests visited the exhibition, including many school-aged children, teachers and families. Comparative analysis of random first-time vs. repeat visitor surveys demonstrated a statistically significant (8.25% at p-value = 0.006) increase in knowledge of mitochondrial disease and bioenergetics. Our findings clearly support the power of the STEAM-H initiative in creatively communicating the complex science to a broader community.

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Articles