ArkanSONO: A Technology Based Outreach Exposure Program for High School Students

  • Abstract

    ArkanSONO is a partnership between University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) faculty and Little Rock School District (LRSD) teachers to bring state-of-the-art hand-held ultrasound imaging and simulation technology to 9th grade classrooms and invite students and teachers to a weeklong imaging technology and cardiovascular health focused summer day camp at UAMS.

    The overall objective is to increase STEM content knowledge and promote more positive beliefs and attitudes towards STEM with the ultimate goal of promoting a more diverse STEM workforce. The four specific aims are to: 1) Increase the interest and knowledge of high school students for STEM related fields and careers. The program uses hand held ultrasound imaging devices coupled with a high fidelity simulator to stimulate student interest in STEM in both the classroom and in a weeklong cardiovascular health focused summer day camp (SONOcamp).

    Three separate classroom sessions will provide students with hands-on experience using the devices to peer inside the human body at the functioning heart and peripheral vasculature. Students will use critical thinking skills and principles of scientific investigation to predict and experimentally test how common objects will look under ultrasound imaging (phantom model). The SONOcamp experience will include using ultrasound in standardized patients, inspect isolated cadaveric organ specimens and whole body CT scans that demonstrate cardiovascular related pathologies, participation in luncheon panel discussions with STEM role models, and tours of sophisticated imaging technology facilities. The camp will be capped off with a friendly team-based SONOlympics competition and Career and Health Fair.

    A SONOpeer program will allow a subset of students to work as team leaders in SONOcamp. 2) Increase STEM content knowledge and familiarity with imaging in students and teachers. Teachers will be invited to a 2-day workshop to be trained as ultrasound facilitators and refine the planned outreach curriculum. Teachers and a subset of students will be invited to the active learning experiences in SONOcamp. 3) Increase knowledge and understanding of the link between diet, exercise, and genetics to the risk of cardiovascular related disease. The underlying theme throughout all ArkanSONO outreach activities will be cardiovascular health and disease. Group experiments in SONOcamp will enlighten students on the interrelationship of the cardiovascular system and other organs. 4) Develop an innovative ultrasound technology based interactive website that can serve as a resource for STEM teaching and learning.

    The ArkanSONO website will be designed as an interactive website geared towards P-12 students and teachers to facilitate adoption of the ArkanSONO approach. It will also include a virtual phantom module that can be used by classrooms across the US when access to ultrasound technology is lacking. The successful implementation of ArkanSONO will serve as a model for using ultrasound technology to promote STEM in diverse populations to ensure a future STEM workforce that better reflects the US population.