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Physics Osteopathic Medicine in High School Physics

  1. Apr 5, 2010 #1
    Hello everyone!

    I'm writing today because I was wondering what you might think about this. Right now I'm working on writing a curriculum for a summer program for at risk 11th and 12th graders. The summer program is two weeks long and the Physics class meets 3 times a week for an hour a half each time. This is a program that wishes to give participants experience in Osteopathic medicine and encourage them to choose medicine as a career. They want me to come up with separate curriculum for 11th and 12th graders, so my idea was to teach "first semester" physics to the 11th graders and "second semester" physics to the 12th graders.

    First Semester would include things like:
    motion in 1D, kinematics, vectors (projectiles incl), forces, momentum, energy, work, and gravity.

    Second Semester would include:
    waves (mech & em), electric force, magnetism, circuits, optics, nuclear.

    Because there's only an hour and a half in one day, I would only cover one topic. But there's a catch here: What I teach should be related to Osteopatic medicine. If you had to choose six topics from each semester above and had to relate them to medicine, what would you do? If you have a suggestion, I'd appreciate some ideas for in class activities and labs!
    Thanks in advance everyone!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2010 #2
    For your first semester 11th graders it's going to be hard because you're teaching the material that everything else is built on. You can cover some basic things like how the heart has to do work against gravity, the forces/torques generated by various muscle groups, etc.

    Second semester is easier. Here is what I would do:

    Waves: Brain waves, blood flow/turbulence, ultrasound
    Electricity: ECG, EEG, Action potential, defibrillation, etc.
    Magnetism: MRI
    Optics: Human vision
    Nuclear: Nuclear medicine, PET/SPECT
  4. Apr 7, 2010 #3
    Nice! That gives me some good ideas :) Thank you very much!
  5. Apr 7, 2010 #4


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    Osteopathic medicine isn't much different from any other kind of medicine, except that they're big on adding overall patient well-being to the picture (things like keeping a positive attitude while healing). The basics of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry type stuff are still all the same.

    Kinematics...musculoskeletal actions are basic lever systems (and in a few cases, lever/pulley systems).

    I have to correct some of the above suggestions, though. Action potential doesn't have ANYTHING to do with electricity. That's a chemical gradient, not electrical.

    If you teach optics related to the eyeball, PLEASE don't introduce the common misconception that the lens is the major refractive structure of the eye. It does the fine-tuning, but the cornea is the major refractive structure.

    For blood flow, that's not waves, per se, but it is fluid dynamics. The major concepts to cover in that area that won't introduce misconceptions, are things like velocity and pressure through varied diameter "pipes" or vessels. Because blood vessels are elastic and there are continual adjustments of diameter as well as heart rate, force and volume of heart contractions, etc., it's better not to talk about things like blood pressure in the whole body, because the simple physics you'd be teaching will be wrong, and might even confuse them later. Instead, focus on local issues, like a blood vessel that has lost its elasticity and is narrowed by atherosclerotic plaques (hardening of the arteries).

    Trying to explain how an MRI works to high school kids is going to be WAY beyond their level.

    Can I ask how the program you're working with is defining "at risk" students? Are they smart kids but from low socioeconomic homes/communities? Or are they kids who are doing poorly in school and need remediation? And, why is the focus primarily on osteopathic medicine for high school kids?
  6. Apr 7, 2010 #5
    Where there is fluid dynamics, there are waves. Think pressure wave.

    You don't to explain the conceptual details of MRI, just the stuff about precession and torque of magnetic moments. Don't go beyond their level.
  7. Apr 7, 2010 #6


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    But not really relevant to cardiovascular physiology.

    Precession? I think that's getting well beyond high school level, because I don't even know what that term means related to magnets. It would be too much of a stretch to try to relate any of it to MRI. When dealing with MRI, the main issue is the effect of the magnetic field on flipping water molecules in the body. That's too much to explain to high schoolers. And, if the focus is osteopathic medicine, then they're not going into radiology anyway.

    There's no need to force relationships when it's not needed. Magnets are sort of neat and nifty all by themselves. Everyone has refrigerator magnets, and has had the experience of trying to stick two together and having them repel one another. That is sufficient to give the students a conceptual basis of magnetism without trying to stretch it to a medical field where it's just going to confuse them because you can't explain enough of it at their level for it to make sense.
  8. Apr 7, 2010 #7
    It was only a suggestion. Most doctors don't deal with the details of cardiac physiology anyway.

    Magnets are interesting, but the question was how to relate them to medicine.
  9. Apr 7, 2010 #8
    I'm pretty sure the way that they're defining "at risk" is: students who's educational experience could be affected by external factors including socioeconomic problems. I haven't been officially hired into the position yet, so as far as program details go and their selection process my knowledge is unfortunately limited. It's a program that is put on through the College of Osteopathic medicine and it's trying to give participants a taste of the profession in case that's that they want to study.

    Thank you very much to both of you. All of your suggestions give me some wonderful ideas!
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