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Medical Physics Community Outreach Development for Young Learners

J Fagerstrom1*, M Malin2 , (1) Northwest Medical Physics Center, Lynnwood, WA, (2) The University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL


(Monday, 7/30/2018) 1:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Room: Karl Dean Ballroom A2

Purpose: Education, including within physicists' broader communities, is part of the mission of the AAPM. This project sought to develop and implement novel educational activities as an introduction to career paths in clinical medical physics and radiation therapy for young students.

Methods: Training was completed to become a volunteer community scientist at the Pacific Science Center (PSC) in Seattle, Washington and a hand-on educational activity was developed with the guidance of PSC staff. This activity primarily attracts young PSC visitors, as well as their parents, as an introduction to medical physics. Next, a 45-minute workshop was developed for a middle school audience, designed to describe daily responsibilities of clinical therapeutic medical physicists and radiation oncologists. This workshop will be completed three times during the University of Washington-Bothell's annual Inspire STEM Festival in March 2018. The festival especially encourages attendance by students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields.

Results: The PSC activity asks students to examine radiation levels in common household objects that keep people safe and healthy. The STEM workshop lesson plan, designed for a longer duration and a more mature audience, encourages students to examine common dosimetry tools, view volumes contoured on anonymized patient CT scans, and complete a hands-on treatment planning activity. Both programs were accepted by their respective organizations. Through the PSC program, over 100 individuals interact with the medical physics activity center in each three-hour shift. During the Inspire STEM festival, three 45-minute hands-on workshops will be completed for an audience of 30 students each, along with their teachers and chaperones.

Conclusion: Detailed lesson plans were developed for two formats of learner-centered, hands-on educational activities giving an introduction to careers in medical physics and radiation therapy. These lesson plans are available upon request for physicists interested in exploring additional educational outreach activities in their communities.

Funding Support, Disclosures, and Conflict of Interest: Funding for science communication training was provided in part by a community outreach grant from the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.


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