Summer 2021 Activities

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ArkanSONO is a technology based outreach exposure program for high school students in the Little Rock School District (LRSD) in central Arkansas. The goal of this program is to use the transformative power of point-of-care ultrasound and other imaging technologies to stimulate student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and careers.

This project is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIGMS or NIH.

ArkanSONO was recently awarded a 5-year, $1.27 million dollar Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant from the NIGMS. The ArkanSONO staff are partnering with the LRSD to determine if hands on use of technology by 9th grade students can be used to stimulate students interest in STEM careers. UAMS faculty will visit 9th grade Physical Science classrooms in the LRSD and invite students to a week long summer day camp focusing on technology and cardiovascular health.

The ArkanSONO program staff include:

Kevin D. Phelan, Ph.D., Professor, Division of Clinical Anatomy, UAMS (program director)

Karen L. Yanowitz, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology and Counseling, Arkansas State University

Gregory R. Snead, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, UAMS

Billy R. Thomas, M.D., Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UAMS

Mohsin Syed, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, UAMS

Noor Akhter, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, UAMS

Tiffany W. Huitt, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, UAMS

ArkanSONO outreach activities:

  • Little Rock School District– In the spring of 2017, DCA faculty visited 4 of the 5 high schools in the Little Rock School District (Central, McClellan, J.A. Fair and Hall). These visits were spread over 9 separate days and reached over 750 9th grade students in demonstrations to students in over 30 physical science classes. [The core outreach DCA staff included Drs. Kevin D. Phelan, Noor Akhter, and Mohsin Syed. Dr. Joseph Daniel participated in several sessions as well as Dr. Melody Allensworth-James (Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences)]. This demonstration consisted of a short introductory description of sound and the physics of ultrasound, small group hands-on sessions where the students use the hand-held Vscan devices (GE Healthcare) to scan the facilitators neck and forearms, and a concluding classroom wrap up session that included an application exercise. Each student was provided a double-sided color printed handout with ultrasound information on the front side and STEM career information on the back including QR scan code links to STEM related websites. A sample of the classroom handout  is shown below:

image of handout page 1

image of handout page 2

“The content was easily incorporated into my physics curriculum. Students were engaged during the program, and enjoyed the interactivity with the devices and medical professionals. There were many good questions asked even after the presenters left, indicating some lasting influence. Students would like to hear more of specific uses for ultrasound and additional demonstrations
– 9th grade physical science teacher, Central High School


  • University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical 2017 STEM Success Day – On March 16, 2017, faculty from the Division of Clinical Anatomy offered a hands-on ultrasound workshop to 44 students from 5 regional middle schools (Dunbar, Henderson, Forest Heights, and Jacksonville). The outreach staff included Drs. Kevin D. Phelan, Noor Akhter, and Mohsin Syed. The demonstration was similar to those described above and included students examining the muscles, tendons and nerves in the forearm as shown below:

Ultrasound demonstration picture

Sample middle school student survey responses:

What were the most important things you learned or accomplished at this workshop? “How the heart moves”, “Seeing how the veins and arteries work”, “Our technology is advancing rapidly”, “STEM is changing the world”, “Learned how to use the ultrasound”, “Ultrasounds are used for more than one thing”, “Learned a little about medicine”, “Sound waves can allow us to see what is in the body”

How will you use the information you learned as a student? “Tell people how cool it is to see a heart”, “Think more on my life/career”, “Use when I become a nurse”, “Will help if I become a doctor”, “Make sure I get checked to make sure I’m healthy”, “Share with my science teacher”

General comments: “This was cool!”, “Loved the presentation”, “I like science!”



  • American Heart Association (AHA) Sweethearts – On October 16th and 17th, 2017, Dr. Phelan organized a hands-on demonstration of cardiac and renal sonography for 56 high school sophomore girls as part of the AHA Sweethearts tours of the UAMS campus research facilities. The girls were from several public and private schools in the region including Central, Parkview, Mount St. Mary’s, Episcopal, Pulaski Academy, LISA, North Little Rock, Cabot, and Central Arkansas Christian. This demonstration included hands on demonstrations of the heart and kidney in a standardized patient and a simulator mannequin demonstration of a patient with bleeding around the heart. The photo below illustrates Dr. Phelan demonstrating the appearance of the kidney using the hand-held GE Vscan dual probe devices.

Dr. Phelan demonstration


Other ultrasound related outreach activities of the Division of Clinical Anatomy:

  • Baseline Elementary School – In the last three years, Dr. Phelan has visited Ms. Grace Waddell’s 2nd grade classroom at Baseline Elementary School for an anatomy show-and-tell session. Each year around Halloween time her students learn about the bones of the skeleton and about how bats and other animals use echolocation. Dr. Phelan brings “Bob” (an articulated plastic skeleton) and his echolocation device (a hand-held GE Vscan ultrasound machine) to the classroom for a demonstration. Disarticulated plastic models of the femur, humerus, hand and foot are passed around the classroom so that students can hold a representative bone in their hands and appreciate the differences in size and function. Doppler imaging of Dr. Phelan’s neck allows the students to visualize his blood flowing in his arteries and veins. A sample Doppler movie of the vessels in the neck is shown below:

Elementary students with skeleton model Dr. Phelan showing ultrasound unit to elementary students