Lesson: The Grand Challenge

Contributed by: VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University

Photograph shows a man in a white coat looking at films (results) from an MRI.
MRIs are frequently used by doctors worldwide to aid with diagnosis of patients
copyright
Copyright © 2004 Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399 USA. All rights reserved.

Summary

This lesson introduces the MRI Safety Grand Challenge question. Students write journal responses to the question and brainstorm what information they need to know in order to answer the question. Their ideas are shared with the class and recorded. Then students watch a video interview with a real-life researcher to gain a professional perspective on MRI safety and brainstorm for more ideas. Through the associated activity, students visualize magnetic fields.

Engineering Connection

The MRI was developed by biomedical engineers as a non-invasive imaging tool. An important part of engineering is ensuring the technology is safe to use. Engineers analyze the equipment they design for safety risks and develop a means of preventing dangers. During this lesson, students are prompted to think like safety engineers and generate ideas related to the risks and potential dangers associated with a strong magnetic field—that of an MRI machine.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Explain the grand challenge problem.
  • List what information might be needed to answer the problem.
  • Group together similar areas of knowledge needed for the challenge.
  • Visualize the shape of a magnetic field.

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Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Medical technologies include prevention and rehabilitation, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, medical and surgical procedures, genetic engineering, and the systems within which health is protected and maintained. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Identify the design problem to solve and decide whether or not to address it. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Results of scientific inquiry--new knowledge and methods--emerge from different types of investigations and public communication among scientists. In communicating and defending the results of scientific inquiry, arguments must be logical and demonstrate connections between natural phenomena, investigations, and the historical body of scientific knowledge. In addition, the methods and procedures that scientists used to obtain evidence must be clearly reported to enhance opportunities for further investigation. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
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Introduction/Motivation

Grand Challenge Question: A nearby hospital has just installed a new magnetic resonance imaging facility that has the capacity to make three-dimensional images of brains and other body parts by placing a patient in a strong magnetic field. The hospital wants its staff to have a clear knowledge of the risks involved in working near a strong magnetic field, as well as a basic understanding of why those risks exist. Safety engineers spend time specifically trying to improve the safety of devices. When an engineer designs a new machine like an MRI machine, s/he must communicate how the design works to the users to ensure they understand how to use it in a safe manner. Your task over the next two weeks is to develop a presentation or pamphlet explaining how a MRI machine works, the risks involved, the physics behind those risks, and the safety precautions to be taken by all staff members.

Generate Ideas: Ask students to work independently to record their personal thoughts and ideas about the problem in their journals. Use one or more of the following journal questions to help students get started:

  • What risk factors could a strong magnetic field pose to medical personnel?
  • How could those risks be reduced or avoided?
  • What do you need to know more about?
  • What do you already know that is relevant?

After an adequate amount of time, record students' thoughts on the board. Solicit ideas from everyone, and capture all ideas on the board. If the class is large, have students pair up and share ideas, then get at least one idea from each group.

Multiple Perspectives: Next, show students two short online videos: 1) a video interview with a real-life researcher and 2) a video of removing a chair from an MRI. The website URLs are provided in the Additional Multimedia Support section. Give students time to brainstorm additional ideas of needed information. These videos can lead students in new directions and help them understand the uses of MRI.

Finally, divide the Grand Challenge into three knowledge areas: how magnetic fields affect physical objects, how magnetic fields relate to electricity, and what creates a magnetic field. After students are satisfied with their list of information needed and categories, conduct the associated activity on the topic of visualizing magnetic fields.

Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers

Legacy Cycle Information

This lesson covers the Grand Challenge, Generate Ideas, and Multiple Perspectives phases of the legacy cycle. The intent is to get students to brainstorm ideas and organize their information. Begin with students working independently to record their personal thoughts and ideas on the problem. During this time, walk around the room and assist any students who are drawing a blank. After an adequate amount of time, record students' thoughts on the classroom board. Get ideas from everyone, and write all ideas on the board, overhead projector or large notepad. If the class is large, have students group up and share ideas, then get at least one idea from each group.

Next, show the video interview with a real-life researcher and the video of removing a chair from an MRI and give students time to brainstorm additional ideas of needed information. These videos can lead students in new directions and help them understand the uses of MRI. The goal of this brainstorming is to divide the Grand Challenge down into three knowledge areas: how magnetic fields affect physical objects, how magnetic fields relate to electricity, and what creates a magnetic field. If students do not think of these topics, ask leading questions to help them.

This first part of the legacy cycle deeply engage students with a problem to they become motivated to learn information. During the Generate Ideas phase, they identify prior knowledge so they feel that they have a starting place for the problem. Students get to hear everyone's ideas, so they know what their classmates are thinking. This is also a time for teachers to identify misconceptions. During the Multiple Perspectives phase, students gain more clues to the challenge problem and begin to see why this information is useful.

MRI Information

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive, usually painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

MR imaging uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. The images are examined on a computer monitor or printed. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).

Detailed MR images help physicians to better evaluate body parts and certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (also called CT or CAT scanning).

Vocabulary/Definitions

biomedical engineering: The application of engineering principles and techniques to the medical field. It combines the design and problem solving skills of engineering with medical and biological sciences to help improve patient health care and people's quality of life.

MRI: Acronym for magnetic resonance imaging. A non-invasive diagnostic medical procedure employing an MR scanner to obtain detailed sectional images of the internal structure of the body.

Associated Activities

Assessment

Lesson Summary Assessment

Journaling: Review students' journal entries from after being introduced to the Grand Challenge to assess their depth of comprehension of the topic.

Journal Topics for after Grand Challenge:

  • What risk factors could a strong magnetic field pose to medical personnel?
  • How could those risks be reduced or avoided?
  • What do you need to know more about?
  • What do you already know that is relevant?

Additional Multimedia Support

Video Interview with MRI researcher (3:31 minutes), Pediatric MRI at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLmKiljrf00

Video of removing a chair from an MRI machine (28 seconds), Chair Gets Stuck in an MRI at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLmKiljrf00

References

Dictionary.com. Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Accessed June 24, 2008. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mri

Gould, Todd. A. "How MRI Works." How Stuff Works. Accessed June 24, 2008. http://www.howstuffworks.com/mri1.htm

Hornack, Joseph P. The Basics of MRI .1996-2007. http://www.cis.rit.edu/htbooks/mri/

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - Body. RadiologyInfo.org. Accessed July 16, 2007. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodymr

Engineering Design Process. Last updated June 18, 2008. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 24, 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_design_process

Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Last updated June 24, 2008. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 24, 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_resonance_imaging

Contributors

Eric Appelt

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2006 Vanderbilt University

Supporting Program

VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University

Acknowledgements

The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under National Science Foundation RET grant nos. 0338092 and 0742871. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the NSF, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: September 7, 2017

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