GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of Long Island students got a hands-on lesson Thursday in how robots are transforming modern medicine, even getting a chance to take the controls themselves.

At the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, instructors taught math and science students how to do what highly trained surgeons do every day — remotely control robots to perform life-saving surgeries, TV 10/55’s Richard Rose reported.

“The monitor is showing exactly what the movements of the robot are that are being conducted by the surgeon,” said Vijay Singh, a thoracic surgeon at Northwell Health.

The students peered into a viewfinder, using the same 3-D monitor that surgeons now routinely trust to perform precise movements in actual operations. They practiced picking up a penny and placing it into a very tight space.

“The way you can take your hands and put them into their coinciding pieces — it just felt so real,” said Nicole Khouryawad, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School.

Hundreds of Long Island high school students have signed up for the robot training as part of their math and science stem studies, many with medical ambitions of their own. They’ve already learned that robots are assisting in the majority of prostate surgeries.

“Most prostates were done 100 percent open at that point. Now, thanks to the robots, they’re done over 99 percent robotically assisted,” said Heather Baird, a surgical robot manufacturer.

Expecting some of the bright young minds will some day join their ranks, Northwell Health sponsors the robot training, believing there is no substitute for actually taking the controls.

“It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and be lectured to, but you have to get into the real world,” said Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health.

Khouryawad, 16, agrees.

“It was so cool, honestly. I know I’d like to go into neurosurgery. Just to experience that was amazing,” she said.

She said practicing manipulating a $5 bill gives her confidence she could one day repair someone’s body with a big, robotic assist.

Besides prostate procedures, doctors are now routinely using robots to assist in chest and abdominal surgeries.

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