By Barb Arland-Fye
Twelve-year-old Helena Hansen’s history project on ultrasound — inspired by her mom’s volunteer work at a pro-life medical center — earned state finalist designation for the National History Day in Iowa Contest.
The seventh-grader at Williams Junior High School and member of Holy Family Parish, both in Davenport, spent months researching and preparing her project and is thrilled to be recognized for that effort.
More importantly, she broadened her understanding about a life-saving tool in medical diagnostics that can be used to look for tumors, aneurisms like her dad has had, analyze bone structure and examine the health of an unborn baby.
Helena, the youngest of Greg and Sandi Hansen’s three children, has made several trips to the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf with her mom. The pro-life medical center is where Helena got to watch an ultrasound scan of a mother-to-be’s unborn child.
“It was amazing. You could actually see it moving around the screen and everything. I got to hear the heart beat,” Helena said. After that experience last summer, Helena, who loves history, knew she wanted to do her next history project on ultrasound.
“She has always wanted to help promote life, and thought this would be a good way to show that there is life in the womb,” said Sandi Hansen.
The theme for this year’s National History Day was Innovation in History: Impact and Change. In addition to doing research on the Internet and at the public library Helena also conducted interviews, including with the women who perform ultrasound scans at the Women’s Choice Center and Choices Medical Clinic in Iowa City.
“I didn’t know anything about the history of ultrasound. I could see somewhat how it worked, but there were a lot of things I didn’t know about it,” Helena said. “Most people, when they think of ultrasound, think of babies. One of the surprising things I learned is that it is used for medical procedures of all types.”
Helena’s display board featured a timeline of the history of ultrasound, along with facts, photos and ultrasound images from her dad’s medical exams. The display also featured a laptop computer that showed an ultrasound scan of a 30-week-old fetus. Viewers could hear the unborn child’s heartbeat, and that’s what Helena most loved about it.
In April, she participated in the regional competition at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where she was chosen one of two state qualifiers in the junior division (grades 6-8). She also was honored for having the best project related to medical history. During the state competition, held at the History Center in Des Moines on May 3, she was chosen a finalist and placed sixth in her division. “One of the judges asked if I wanted to be a sonographer when I grow up. I said, ‘I could see myself doing that,’” Helena said.
Sandi Hansen said her daughter’s project “was a great way to show when life begins in a non-controversial way. You’re just showing life in the womb. I was excited she wanted to do that.”
Mother and daughter also felt honored that the Women’s Choice Center asked to display Helena’s exhibit at a fundraising event held at the center May 4.