Branching Out with Research

The summer internships that the Cleveland Clinic Office of Civic Education Initiatives offers to high school students last nine weeks – nine weeks of hands-on activities, intensive research, and observation. However, that experience doesn't stop after the nine weeks are through. As the years pass, interns are being offered more and more venues to showcase and share their research with others – from fellow high school students to healthcare professionals.

mRi™: myRESEARCH illuminated

Now celebrating its third year, mRi™: myRESEARCH illuminated is a web-based show that, each summer, highlights the work and research of five summer interns. It was created in 2007 by the first two Creative Learning Interns, Annette Drapac and Kaleigh Eichel, who formatted the program to look like a talk show. mRi™ was carried on in 2008 by Creative Learning Intern Dan Lasco, who reformatted the show to make it based on a fictional character, Ron Gleper. During its third year, mRi™ was moved toward a more behind-the-scenes, documentary-style format that showcases the Creative Learning Internship Program in addition to the five research interns and their projects.

The aim of mRi™ is to present the scientific research undertaken by summer interns in a creative, accessible format. One of its most widespread uses is to present research projects to high school students who want to interpret them for the eXpressions™ programs. This is especially valuable for students who don't have an intern at their school; they are still able to learn about a research project so that they can turn it into an art, writing or math project for eXpressions™.

Interns whose work is featured on the show enjoy the chance to see their research in a new light. Pharmacy Intern Emily Whitten was one of the five interns on mRi™ in 2008. "It was a great experience and I love going back to watch it," she says. "I loved the creative perspective. mRi™ definitely makes your research look fun!"

One notable aspect of the creation of mRi™ is that it exposes Creative Learning Interns to scientific research and allows them to become well-versed in the projects they're featuring. "mRi™ was an opportunity for us to really help the Science Interns communicate their projects they completed this summer to their peers in a way that would be understood and yet at the same time accurately portray their experiences here. Between the intern selection process and script-writing sessions, we were required to fully comprehend every aspect of the intern's project. Without that in-depth knowledge, there would be no way to accurately communicate their experiences," says 2009 Creative Learning Intern Clare Wittenberg. "Being able to learn about five awesome research projects and the interns who completed them was one the hardest yet most rewarding experiences I've ever had."

This show has also given Creative Learning Interns a chance to expand their horizons creatively. "I've always been interested in film production, and working on mRi™ has definitely heightened that interest," says 2009 Creative Learning Intern Megan Opatrny. "Creating mRi™ has taught me a lot about the process of working with others to create a video. It has been an unforgettable experience!"

Wittenberg agrees. "Being a producer and editor on a real project with sophisticated equipment and real professionals was an experience that I was not expecting to have during this internship," she says. "It has shown me yet another creative career path within the healthcare field that I never knew existed."

Fictional character Ron Gleper, played by 2008 Creative Learning Intern Dan Lasco, attempts to learn about science at home before going out to follow Cleveland Clinic interns for the second season of mRi™.