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Can Startle Elicit Sequential Movements in Highly Trained Individuals?

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Most daily living tasks consist of pairing a series of sequential movements, e.g., reaching to a cup, grabbing the cup, lifting and returning the cup to your mouth. The process by which we control and mediate the smooth progression of

Most daily living tasks consist of pairing a series of sequential movements, e.g., reaching to a cup, grabbing the cup, lifting and returning the cup to your mouth. The process by which we control and mediate the smooth progression of these tasks is not well understood. One method which we can use to further evaluate these motions is known as Startle Evoked Movements (SEM). SEM is an established technique to probe the motor learning and planning processes by detecting muscle activation of the sternocleidomastoid muscles of the neck prior to 120ms after a startling stimulus is presented. If activation of these muscles was detected following a stimulus in the 120ms window, the movement is classified as Startle+ whereas if no sternocleidomastoid activation is detected after a stimulus in the allotted time the movement is considered Startle-. For a movement to be considered SEM, the activation of movements for Startle+ trials must be faster than the activation of Startle- trials. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect that expertise has on sequential movements as well as determining if startle can distinguish when the consolidation of actions, known as chunking, has occurred. We hypothesized that SEM could distinguish words that were solidified or chunked. Specifically, SEM would be present when expert typists were asked to type a common word but not during uncommon letter combinations. The results from this study indicated that the only word that was susceptible to SEM, where Startle+ trials were initiated faster than Startle-, was an uncommon task "HET" while the common words "AND" and "THE" were not. Additionally, the evaluation of the differences between each keystroke for common and uncommon words showed that Startle was unable to distinguish differences in motor chunking between Startle+ and Startle- trials. Explanations into why these results were observed could be related to hand dominance in expert typists. No proper research has been conducted to evaluate the susceptibility of the non-dominant hand's fingers to SEM, and the results of future studies into this as well as the results from this study can impact our understanding of sequential movements.

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2018-05

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Engineering the Future: Enhancing the Profile of Biomedical Engineers as a Socially Relevant Discipline

Description

Engineers have a strong influence on everyday lives, ranging from electronics and trains to chemicals and organs [1]. However, in the United States, there is a large knowledge gap in the roles of engineers, especially in K-12 students [2] [3].

Engineers have a strong influence on everyday lives, ranging from electronics and trains to chemicals and organs [1]. However, in the United States, there is a large knowledge gap in the roles of engineers, especially in K-12 students [2] [3]. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) recognizes the current problems in engineering, such as the dominance of white males in the field and the amount of education needed to become a successful engineer [4]. Therefore, the NAE encourages that the current engineering community begin to expose the younger generations to the real foundation of engineering: problem-solving [4]. The objective of this thesis is to minimize the knowledge gap by assessing the current perception of engineering amongst middle school and high school students and improving it through engaging and interactive presentations and activities that build upon the students’ problem-solving abilities.

The project was aimed towards middle school and high school students, as this is the estimated level where they learn biology and chemistry—key subject material in biomedical engineering. The high school students were given presentations and activities related to biomedical engineering. Additionally, within classrooms, posters were presented to middle school students. The content of the posters were students of the biomedical engineering program at ASU, coming from different ethnic backgrounds to try and evoke within the middle school students a sense of their own identity as a biomedical engineer. To evaluate the impact these materials had on the students, a survey was distributed before the students’ exposure to the materials and after that assesses the students’ understanding of engineering at two different time points. A statistical analysis was conducted with Microsoft Excel to assess the influence of the activity and/or presentation on the students’ understanding of engineering.

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2017-05

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Implementing Kinetic Activities into a Children's Summer Program to Encourage STEM Engagement in Children Ages 5-11

Description

This creative project created and implemented a seven-day STEM curriculum that ultimately encouraged engagement in STEM subjects in students ages 5 through 11. The activities were incorporated into Arizona State University's Kids' Camp over the summer of 2017, every Tuesday

This creative project created and implemented a seven-day STEM curriculum that ultimately encouraged engagement in STEM subjects in students ages 5 through 11. The activities were incorporated into Arizona State University's Kids' Camp over the summer of 2017, every Tuesday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. with each activity running for roughly 40 minutes. The lesson plans were created to cover a myriad of scientific topics to account for varied student interest. The topics covered were plant biology, aerodynamics, zoology, geology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Each lesson was scaffolded to match the learning needs of the three age groups (5-6 year olds, 7-8 year olds, 9-11 year olds) and to encourage engagement. "Engagement" was measured by pre- and post-activity surveys approved by IRB. The surveys were in the form of statements where the children would totally agree, agree, be undecided, disagree, or totally disagree with it. To more accurately test engagement, the smiley face Likert scale was incorporated with the answer choices. After implementation of the intervention, two-tailed paired t-tests showed that student engagement significantly increased for the two lesson plans of Aerodynamics and Chemistry.

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2017-12

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Startle can evoke individuated movements of the fingers; implications for neural control

Description

Startle-evoked-movement (SEM), the involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus, has gained significant attention recently for its ability to probe motor planning as well as enhance movement of the upper extremity following stroke. We recently showed that

Startle-evoked-movement (SEM), the involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus, has gained significant attention recently for its ability to probe motor planning as well as enhance movement of the upper extremity following stroke. We recently showed that hand movements are susceptible to SEM. Interestingly, only coordinated movements of the hand (grasp) but not individuated movements of the finger (finger abduction) were susceptible. It was suggested that this resulted from different neural mechanisms involved in each task; however it is possible this was the result of task familiarity. The objective of this study was to evaluate a more familiar individuated finger movement, typing, to determine if this task was susceptible to SEM. We hypothesized that typing movements will be susceptible to SEM in all fingers. These results indicate that individuated movements of the fingers are susceptible to SEM when the task involves a more familiar task, since the electromyogram (EMG) latency is faster in SCM+ trials compared to SCM- trials. However, the middle finger does not show a difference in terms of the keystroke voltage signal, suggesting the middle finger is less susceptible to SEM. Given that SEM is thought to be mediated by the brainstem, specifically the reticulospinal tract, this suggest that the brainstem may play a role in movements of the distal limb when those movements are very familiar, and the independence of each finger might also have a significant on the effect of SEM. Further research includes understanding SEM in fingers in the stroke population. The implications of this research can impact the way upper extremity rehabilitation is delivered.

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2016-12

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Assessment of Student Responses to Various Resources Offered in Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science Courses

Description

To supplement lectures, various resources are available to students; however, little research has been done to look systematically at which resources studies find most useful and the frequency at which they are used. We have conducted a preliminary study looking

To supplement lectures, various resources are available to students; however, little research has been done to look systematically at which resources studies find most useful and the frequency at which they are used. We have conducted a preliminary study looking at various resources available in an introductory material science course over four semesters using a custom survey called the Student Resource Value Survey (SRVS). More specifically, the SRVS was administered before each test to determine which resources students use to do well on exams. Additionally, over the course of the semester, which resources students used changed. For instance, study resources for exams including the use of homework problems decreased from 81% to 50%, the utilization of teaching assistant for exam studying increased from 25% to 80%, the use of in class Muddiest Points for exam study increased form 28% to 70%, old exams and quizzes only slightly increased for exam study ranging from 78% to 87%, and the use of drop-in tutoring services provided to students at no charge decreased from 25% to 17%. The data suggest that students thought highly of peer interactions by using those resources more than tutoring centers. To date, no research has been completed looking at courses at the department level or a different discipline. To this end, we adapted the SRVS administered in material science to investigate resource use in thirteen biomedical engineering (BME) courses. Here, we assess the following research question: "From a variety of resources, which do biomedical engineering students feel addresses difficult concept areas, prepares them for examinations, and helps in computer-aided design (CAD) and programming the most and with what frequency?" The resources considered include teaching assistants, classroom notes, prior exams, homework problems, Muddiest Points, office hours, tutoring centers, group study, and the course textbook. Results varied across the four topical areas: exam study, difficult concept areas, CAD software, and math-based programming. When preparing for exams and struggling with a learning concept, the most used and useful resources were: 1) homework problems, 2) class notes and 3) group studying. When working on math-based programming (Matlab and Mathcad) as well as computer-aided design, the most used and useful resources were: 1) group studying, 2) engineering tutoring center, and 3) undergraduate teaching assistants. Concerning learning concepts and exams in the BME department, homework problems and class notes were considered some of the highest-ranking resources for both frequency and usefulness. When comparing to the pilot study in MSE, both BME and MSE students tend to highly favor peer mentors and old exams as a means of studying for exams at the end of the semester1. Because the MSE course only considered exams, we cannot make any comparisons to BME data concerning programming and CAD. This analysis has highlighted potential resources that are universally beneficial, such as the use of peer work, i.e. group studying, engineering tutoring center, and teaching assistants; however, we see differences by both discipline and topical area thereby highlighting the need to determine important resources on a class-by-class basis as well.

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2016-05

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A Diabetes Education Initiative for Citizens of Rural Kenya

Description

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in developing countries, specifically in rural Kenya. In addition to the high cost of glucose testing, many diabetics in Kenya do not understand the importance of testing their blood glucose, let alone the nature of

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in developing countries, specifically in rural Kenya. In addition to the high cost of glucose testing, many diabetics in Kenya do not understand the importance of testing their blood glucose, let alone the nature of the disease. This project addresses the insufficiency of educational materials regarding diabetes in rural Kenya. The resulting documents can easily be adjusted for use in other developing countries.

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2014-05

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Camp Hope: Defending a Student-Centered Model for Improving Education in the Foster Care Community & Abroad

Description

Camp Hope is an organization dedicated to motivating children in foster care to pursue higher education. In this paper, the organization's founder applies the engineering design process to the problems currently facing Arizona's foster care system. What emerges is Cam

Camp Hope is an organization dedicated to motivating children in foster care to pursue higher education. In this paper, the organization's founder applies the engineering design process to the problems currently facing Arizona's foster care system. What emerges is Camp Hope (i.e. the "product") and in turn a model by which it can be promulgated throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area and abroad. Prototype camps held abroad in Mexico, and at local group homes in Tempe, Arizona verify the initial user inputs with 68% of campers reporting new academic interests in pre/post camp surveys. Future work includes continued fine-tuning of the model through continued Arizona camps, and longer-term surveys tracking the development of children who participate in the program.

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2013-05

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Factors Affecting Students' Capabilities to Pursue a STEM Field

Description

This paper explores factors to study why the number of students in STEM are not as high as they could be. Based on both Veda and Soumya's personal experiences, factors were chosen to understand their impact on whether a high

This paper explores factors to study why the number of students in STEM are not as high as they could be. Based on both Veda and Soumya's personal experiences, factors were chosen to understand their impact on whether a high school student would choose a STEM major in their college of choice, which could lead them to having a career in STEM. The factors explored will be location, grade level, school, parent/guardian involvement, teacher involvement, media influences, and personal interest. Data was collected through surveys sent to both high school and college students. The high school data came solely from schools in the Phoenix area, whereas college students' data came from across the world. These surveys contained questions regarding all of the above factors and were crafted so that we could gain further insight into each factor without producing bias. Each factor had at least one personal experience by either Veda or Soumya. Many of the survey responses gave insight to how and why a student would decide to pursue STEM or why they did pursue STEM. The main implications derived from the study are the following: the importance of a good support network, active parent/guardian and teacher involvement, and specifically active science teacher involvement. Data from both college and high school students showed that students highly valued a science teacher. One recommendation from this thesis is to provide a training for teachers to learn about how to connect concepts they teach to real-world applications. This can be administered through the district so that they may bring in anyone they feel is qualified to teach such topics such as industry professionals or teachers who specialize in teaching STEM. The last recommendation is for parents to participate in a workshop that will inform them of how to be more involved/engaged with their student.

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2016-12

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Analyzing the Achievement and Attitude of Students Using Concept Mapping in an Active Learning Classroom

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Concept mapping is a tool used in order to visually represent a person's understanding of interrelated concepts. Generally the central concept is in the center or at the top and the related concepts branch off, becoming more detailed as it

Concept mapping is a tool used in order to visually represent a person's understanding of interrelated concepts. Generally the central concept is in the center or at the top and the related concepts branch off, becoming more detailed as it continues. Additionally, links between different branches show how those concepts are related to each other. Concept mapping can be implemented in many different types of classrooms because it can be easily adjusted for the needs of the teacher and class specifically. The goal of this project is to analyze both the attitude and achievement of students using concept mapping of college students in an active learning classroom. In order to evaluate the students' concept maps we will use the expert map scoring method, which compares the students concept maps to an expertly created concept map for similarities; the more similar the two maps are, the higher the score. We will collect and record students' scores on concept maps as they continue through the one semester class. Certain chapters correspond to specific exams due to the information contained in the lectures, chapters 1-4 correspond to exam 1 and so forth. We will use this information to correlate the average concept map score across these chapters to one exam score. There was no significant correlation found between the exam grades and the corresponding scores on the concept maps (Pearson's R values of 0.27, 0.26, and -0.082 for Exam 1, 2 and 3 respectively). According to Holm et all "it was found that 85% of students found interest or attainment in the concept mapping session, only 44% thought there was a cost, and 63% thought it would help them to be successful."

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2016-12

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

Description

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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2016-12