Odyssey Scholars » Kylie



Kylie (Senior) - NICU Incubator that Simulates Bonding

Hello all, 

What a month it has been! It feels like February just started and it’s already over. I’m really excited because we only have a week and a half until spring break. On top of spring break being just around the corner, the seniors only have three weeks left of high school after the break. How exciting is that? I am counting the days.

This month has been jam-packed. I was able to get all of my response papers done, as well as find two interviewees and conduct one of the interviews. Most of my response papers were on studies conducted in the NICU on helping support parental participation as well as helping them emotionally. I found two moms on TikTok, like last semester, and interviewed one. She was very nice and helpful, and she added a great deal of perspective to my project. The other mom I reached out to is working on the questions I sent her, and I told her no rush because I’m sure she is very busy.

I originally planned on doing a pamphlet for my final project, but after some deliberation with Ms. Goessl, we both decided it is better for me to write a research paper. I have gathered so much information that there’s no way I can fit it all into a pamphlet, and it could be a disservice because I would have to cut out so much information. So now I am going through all of my notes and response papers and trying to organize all of the information into an outline. I also have never written a research paper before, so I am going to have to learn some basics before I can start actually writing. I plan to put all of the information I’ve gathered into my paper, as well as add my interviews in there, too. 

On top of my research paper, I also need to start planning out my end of the year presentation. I’m not too stressed about that one because it’s just me talking about my project for 15 minutes, which I can do. 

I think that’s all I have for now. Wish me luck as I navigate through all my research!

Hello all!

Happy New Year! This month has flown by! I feel like January usually drags out for what seems like forever, but this January felt so short. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

This semester is a big one for Odyssey since this is our last semester. The main focus this semester is final projects. So far this month, I have been trying to get response papers and requisites done so that I can give my final project all of my attention. I decided this month to knock out my video response papers, and so far I have finished one and I am halfway through the other. I watched a lecture from the Arizona Trauma Institute about the outcomes of attachment given the different attachment styles. Basically, there are four types of attachment. I’ll give you a quick rundown:

  1. Secure attachment (makes up 50-60% of all attachments): The infant’s mother is emotionally available and responsive. The infant can express their emotions and know their mother will respond and soothe. As a result, the infant will have greater impulse control, they will be explorative, and open to learning. They also have a greater likelihood of having good relationships in the future.
  2. Insecure-avoidant (15-20%): The mother is emotionally unavailable, the infant is often ignored, and feels rejected. When a child has an insecure-avoidant attachment, we often see them try to stay close to their caregiver while actively protecting themselves from rejection as a defense mechanism.
  3. Insecure-ambivalent/resistant (10-15%): The infant’s mother is inconsistently responsive to the infant’s signals.
  4. Insecure-disorganized (5%): Parental behavior is often frightening, and the infant’s supposed safe haven is the source of distress. Often, the parents will have a history of unresolved trauma and direct maltreatment. The cycle we often see in insecure-disorganized children is to come close to their caregiver, go away, and become dissociative. These children are also at a greater risk of aggression when they are older.

That is the short version if you can believe it. I found this relevant to my project because I think it is important for parents to understand the different outcomes given the different attachment styles. I think I will put a breakdown similar to that above in my pamphlet when I go into the details about the science of attachment. There is definitely going to be a large section about bonding in my pamphlet because I feel like every parent should know what is going on inside their baby’s brain during attachment, but also what’s going on inside their own brains. This way, they know exactly what’s happening, and what the result of the attachment style will be.

Next, I will be re-watching a video that I watched last year on the neuroscience of social attachment. I don’t feel like I fully grasped all of the information in that lecture because at that point I was still learning the basics of bonding. It mostly talks about attachment in rats and voles (because obviously, it’s unethical to test on babies) and from there we can make inferences on how it translates to humans while also looking at the human brain. I will come back next month and tell you all about it. I think that is all I have for now. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and take care!

Hello all,

This month has gone by fast! I have kept myself busy with school and Odyssey, as well as submitting college applications. Like many of you, the majority of my time has been at home. Doing school from home has its pros and cons. Personally, I like the schedule I have. I have a lot of free-range when it comes to how I spend my time during the day, which I work well with. The downside to that is I sometimes get distracted with the things around me: my bed, my phone, my dog, my fridge, so on and so forth.

Overall, I’ve gotten quite a bit done when it comes to my project. I recently reached out to an OBGYN on TikTok who has experience with the NICU. Surprisingly, she answered me and we’re working on an interview. I’m excited to hear her input and am grateful for the chance to speak with her. All of the Odyssey Scholars recently met with the Innovation Academy at the University of New Mexico, and this led me to come up with an interesting idea. Originally, I was planning on writing a handbook/pamphlet for parents whose baby is in the NICU, but now I’m thinking about creating an incubator that can simulate bonding. I think this creates a much larger impact. I’m not sure if I will be able to actually create this incubator, but I can at least make the plans and give them to someone who can actually create it. I am enthused to move forward on this, and as always, I will keep all of you reading this updated. Stay safe, and I will talk to you all next month!

Hello, all,

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! My family and I stayed home, watched movies, blew way too much money on online Black Friday, and ate good food. I am weirdly thankful for this year because it has given me more time than I would have had with my loved ones had things been normal before I go to college. I am also thankful that I have the opportunity to be an Odyssey Scholar. Many schools don’t offer anything like this, so I am so grateful for the chance to dive into a topic I am fascinated with and learn as much as I can about it. 

The next three weeks are going to be hectic, to say the least! I will be finishing up response papers, conducting a few interviews, and writing my semester paper. Odyssey work aside, I also will have my last set of high school finals (woo hoo!). I refuse to accept that I will have more finals in college, because if I do, I will surely fall into an existential crisis and won’t get anything done. After a very needed break, I am ready to buckle down and be productive.

 I only need to find one more interview, and am waiting to hear back from someone I am currently interviewing. With the pandemic, I have found it is easier to send interviewees my questions and have them send them back to me. It doesn’t give the same experience of getting to Skype or talk over the phone, but I realize that everyone is very busy right now, especially the people I am trying to interview. I am sure they are much busier than normal now, due to having to juggle kids at home all day and having to work. Either way, I am very thankful that they take time out of their busy lives to help me with my research, and I always look forward to hearing their responses to my questions. They are always so insightful and steer my thinking in a cool, new direction. 

Well, I think that is all I have for now. Wish me luck as I dive head-first into finals!

Take care and stay safe.

Hello all,

What a month it’s been! For me and many other seniors, this month was very hectic as a ton of college applications were due on November 1. Luckily, our incredible teachers set up a college application workshop for us, and I speak for myself when I say it was super helpful. I got all of my applications done, and now I can let out a sign of relief. 

Truth be told, I’ve spent the majority of this month working on college applications, and not much Odyssey work, sadly. Now that those are knocked out, I will surely have way more time for my project. Recently I read a book on NICU nurse protocol, more specifically when it came to what is called “Kangaroo Care.” Kangaroo Care is a name for skin-to-skin contact time between infants and their mothers. The “kangaroo” part of it comes from the placement of the infant on the mother’s mammary mounds, which is similar to how marsupials carry their babies in their pouches. This time is imperative for the attachment process and can help regulate the baby’s heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. Mothers benefit from this as well; kangaroo care can promote breast milk production in mothers. 

My goals for the rest of the semester are to finish up response papers, get my interviews, as well as start working on my final project. Speaking of my final project, I am leaning more towards making a prototype or fancy sketch (for lack of a better term) of my incubator. I spoke with a Prep alumna who is a neonatologist, and she brought up a really good point. She told me premature babies in the NICU can’t really be moved for the first 48-62 hours, so my original plan for an insert that moves isn’t really feasible; however, I’m thinking maybe the insert could be in the shape of mammary mounds; maybe it could be personalized a little bit too. All in all, I think I’m making good progress. I think that’s all for this month, take care.

Hello all,

The new school year is in full swing (online, of course), but I couldn’t be more excited for this year. Sadly, COVID-19 has put a little bit of a damper on my project. I was planning on shadowing in the NICU and volunteering to get a first-hand glance on how things operate there. Obviously, since babies in the NICU are very very high risk, this is no longer an option.  However, I think I have altered my project to be able to operate during the pandemic.

My research question is essentially, “How does an infant’s stay in the NICU affect the maternal-infant bonding process?” I feel the best place to start on this thesis is to understand fully what goes on in the NICU.

I have been researching NICU protocols, and watching vlogs of NICU nurses to see what their jobs entail. From what I’ve seen, the NICU nurses are imperative to taking care of the babies! I hope to gain a little bit of knowledge on the parental end of things, too. I can’t even begin to imagine how scary it would be to have a baby in the NICU. I think understanding their feelings will help me understand more of the bonding side of things. I have both the neonatal and bonding parts of my question covered, and I’m really excited to keep moving forward. It definitely feels like I have a clear direction to go in, and that makes researching so much easier. I am still unclear as to what my final project will be, but I still have time. Maybe some kind of dissertation? A NICU nurse quick handbook? There are plenty of options, I just need to explore them.

That’s all for now.