May the fundus be with you

In an optometry class far, far away a shared passion for Lego has seen students learn with a slit lamp constructed from a Millennium Falcon Star Wars kit

04 Oct 2017 by Selina Powell

A slit lamp constructed from a Millennium Falcon Star Wars Lego kit is aiding student learning at the University of Manchester.

Manchester University lecturer, Andrew Gridley, was inspired to help students learn about the slit lamp with the aid of Lego after attending a Higher Education Academy Conference in July.

“A couple of academics from Salford University ran a Crystal Maze-style session where one of the challenges was to build something out of Lego. I thought this is brilliant. I started thinking about how I could do this in my teaching,” Mr Gridley told OT.

After coming up with the idea of creating a slit lamp from the blocks, optometry technician and fellow Lego enthusiast, Stephen Craig, was on hand to see the project through to fruition.

“His work has been incredible,” Mr Gridley added. “I had the idea but he is the one who made the final design and sourced all of the pieces.”

The initial slit lamp prototype was created with a Millennium Falcon Star Wars Lego kit. After the pair worked out which pieces were required for the design, they sourced enough blocks online to create 10 slit lamps.

The course of 100 students were split into groups and tasked with building the model ophthalmic instruments.

“When they are finished, they hopefully have a bit of an idea about the different elements of the slit lamp. There is an observation system, an illumination system and a base unit. It is quite hard to describe those to students without having something physical in front of them,” Mr Gridley explained.

Lego slit lamp

The models are able to move forwards and backwards, side-to-side and pivot from a point like a real slit lamp.

Mr Gridley is able to project images of the model slit lamp on a big screen while talking about different slit lamp techniques.

The former primary school teacher is no stranger to using props in his lectures.

“I have used footballs with different pressures to represent the pressure inside the eyeball and chopped onions to describe the layers of the cornea. It always goes down pretty well. The students remember those lectures,” he shared.

Optometry student, Tamara Hasan, told OT that she thought building the Lego slit lamp was a great teamwork exercise.

The activity also helped with visualising different components of the equipment, she observed.

“The fact that it was original and hands on made it more memorable,” Ms Hasan added. 

Image credit: Andrew Gridley

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