Training Day- the Project’s kicking off.

On Wednesday 4th October four staff members from the Science Department left school as soon as the lunch bell rang and made for the car pool, heading for Glasgow’s New Lister Building housing the Medical Research Council. We ate the dinner in the car, and Dr Lidwell was given a peanut butter sandwich to nibble as she negotiated the terrible weather. I’m glad I hadn’t got around to doing my homework until I’d got in the car; the booklet dealt with collapsed ear canals, ear wax and its removal!

You can read the whole booklet here: Protocols

We were greeted by Patrick Howell, the Chief Audiologist and he had the whole team ready for our visit. What an amazing group of Research Scientists. Each of us were taken to a booth and given a set of earplugs to muffle our hearing. We were then put through our paces with a full hearing check. Clasping our bits of paper, we were quite interested in how we’d performed against the others. It took a lot longer than anticipated and there was quite a lot of pressure to perform. You could hear your heart beating and it was difficult to distinguish between the sounds and the heart.

Then Patrick took Ms McGillivray and Mrs Physics for more training on the audiometers, whilst Dr Lidwell and Mr Physics were taken off by Owen, to meet Rosie, the pink head, then it was time to swap over.

We were carefully taken through the process for completing an audiology test. Mrs Physics was able to test Ms McGillivray and then vice versa. It was fine, but odd. The long pauses suggested you’d missed some sounds! Once you’ve been told about how the test will be conducted it is easier to tune into the sound that you’re listening for. It’s odd, but by the end you think you’re hearing sounds all over the place.

Rosie, is fantastic, although, we’re going to have to keep track of her ears, they were so expensive. The screen shots on the tablet is fantastic and really clear for the students, although we’ve been advised to complete each test 12 times as each song will have highs and lows, and the headphones might trap more or less air each time, which could affect the results. I hope we can find some good statisticians to do this project.

The background noise for Rosie was about 60 dB so several people are likely to listen to music quieter than this, but that would never be damaging to hearing. We will also get some students working on exposure times for each sound level for each student. This project is growing legs, I can see us taking up the whole year with data and research.

Rosie was packed in a box, and covered in green packing foam and it was time for a group photo before presenting Owen with a Quaich as he leaves for pastures new. He has driven the project from the Research Scientists end, but he’s leaving us in great hands as Patrick, his team and Bill are just as enthusiastic.

We cannot thank this team enough for taking time out of their busy schedule to train us and they’ve promised to be available should we need them during the testing phase.

Well folks! Start a queue- we’re ready for you, oh no, we need the wipes first to clean the equipment between each test!


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