New exhibit focuses on YOU!

By mlekovic

It’s all about you! Your beginning, movement, heart, mind, appetite, vitality and future are all scrutinized through the microscope, literally, in a new exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The museum at,  5700 S. Lake Shore Drive,  opened “YOU! The Experience” on Oct. 7 with a special preview to media and select elementary and high schools.  The new 15,000-square-foot exhibition features more than 50 interactive exhibits where visitors can explore the human body in numerous ways and points of view.

The exhibit has been in the works since 2004, according to Patricia Ward, project director for “YOU! The Experience.” It replaced three previous exhibits housed in the space.

“The whole project took about four years,” Ward said. “The amount that it took to produce the entire exhibition was $21.5 million, which was all donated.”

The dramatic exhibit showcases the extraordinary  workings of the human body, lifestyle choices made by people, how the environment affects us and the role of medical technology.

One of the eight sections of the exhibit deals with “Medical Innovations.” The section displays recent breakthroughs and trends in the field of medicine, such as dissolvable stents and new research on breast cancer.  The section also delves into the impact of medical technology on society.

Lewis B. Schwartz, divisional vice president of Drug Eluting Stent at Abbott Vascular Devices, described some of the current and future medical technology.

“Coronary arteries in the heart get blocked with atherosclerosis,” Schwartz said. “You have to get the blood vessel open. One of the ways to do it is to put a wire in it with a little balloon and you inflate the balloon and the artery becomes larger.”

To keep this balloon open and to keep blood flowing to the heart. Schwartz, along with thousands of other researchers at Abbott Vascular Devices, helped develop the stent. This stent opened a highway of information to researchers and now Abbot Vascular  devices scientists are coming up with a dissolving stent that will reduce some of the problems of the original stent, according to Schwartz.

“YOU! The Experience” also has interactive exhibits that show kids how babies develop, how blood flows through veins and how nerves affect movement.

Physical fitness and staying active are also valuable messages the exhibition tries to stress to children and adults.  The “Your Movement” section is intended to inspire guests to get up and start moving. This section encourages guests to explore what kinds of activities suit their own personality and preferences while providing ideas for staying fit.

The children at the museum during the preview really seemed to enjoy the interactive games. Students ran on a human hamster wheel and practiced basketball and breakdancing on an interactive floor that was placed in front of a giant screen that traced their movements.

There was video of a double-amputee who rock climbs, a paralyzed surfer, a quadriplegic rugby player and a tennis player with half of his brain removed, who all shared their stories and told children that they can do anything they aspire to.

Tanner Lanksbury, a 16-year-old tennis player who had half of his brain removed, was at the museum and shared his experience with the school children.

“Stay active,” Lanksbury said as kids walked passed him with high-fives for being courageous.  They were able to hear Tanners message the following night as he spoke on the opening night.

His mother, Michelle Lanksbury, remembers when Tanner began having seizures and the tough decision she had to make to have half of his brain removed.

“Doctors said it was up to us to make the decision,” Michelle said. “Their words were, ‘You have to take him home at the end of the day.’”

Michelle said she prayed to God and that’s how she and her husband determined to have their son go through the nine and a half-hour procedure to cure his seizures. If he didn’t have the operation, he could have died.

The exhibit will remain permanently in the museum and will be open  from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. To promote the exhibition, the museum is offering free admission to  this, and many other exhibits through Oct. 30.