Almost another year older…and some awesome Science Club plans for celebrating ;)

I turn 27 tomorrow! I actually totally forgot this fact until my friend texted me to ask if I was “gearing up for the Big Day” and I briefly panicked that I had forgotten something terribly important. Not that a birthday isn’t important, but I’m not too panicked about forgetting mine since all I need to do is show up and age a little 😉

Part of the reason I had totally forgotten that my birthday was only a day away is that I spent most of today finalizing plans and materials for what will hopefully be a fun high school science club experiment day tomorrow. Our research institute has an outreach program, and mentors 10 high school juniors/seniors in a year-long orthopedics-focues science club as part of this effort. We focused on fracture fixation and mechanical testing for our first lab, and will be focusing on imaging and diagnostic measurements for tomorrow’s lab. Since the experiment is within my area of expertise*, I was eager to take the lead and have been enjoying refining our initial lab brainstorming idea into a high-school level experiment.

The lab is based on making diagnostic measurements for diagnosing femoro-acetabular impingement, which is a condition that causes the neck of the femur to pinch against the hip socket (acetabulum), potentially damaging the cartilage, hip labrum (fibrocartilage rim that deepens the hip socket and helps maintain fluid pressure within the hip joint), and even the bone itself. We are providing the opportunity for the students to learn about the condition itself (anatomy/morphology), some relevant imaging modalities (radiograph and MRI in this case), diagnostic challenges (challenging measurements), and a couple useful statistical parameters (intra- and inter-rater reliability). I’ve been dealing with the experimental side, and our statistician came up with an awesome way to keep the stats stuff fun by performing the more complex calculations himself in SPSS to decrease the tedium/need for extensive background material, and instead focusing on teaching the students about the meaning behind the numbers and allowing them to compete for the best intra-rater reliability/inter-rater reliability with the expert radiologist measurement.

I suppose a normal person might be bummed to be spending their birthday evening hanging out with a bunch of nerdy* high school students while teaching them about the frustration of unreliable measurements, but I’m actually super excited to spend my big day helping an awesome group of students learn about one challenging, but interesting, aspect of musculoskeletal imaging/diagnosis.

*Can’t really call myself an expert at this point, but I’m more of an expert than the non-imaging people, so we’ll go with it…

**Ok, these students barely qualify as nerdy. But they kind of have to be at least a little nerdy to qualify for our science club 😉

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