ORS Open Door 2024 will take place February 2, 2024  in Long Beach, California. Interested in partnering with us? Contact ORS Advocacy Council Chair Meghan McGee-Lawrence, PhD at [email protected].

Download a flyer with information on Open Door 2024.

See for yourself! Videos from the 2023 Program:

ORS Open Door 2023 took place on Friday, February 10th from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM CST at the UT Southwestern Medical campus.

ORS Open Door is an outreach activity aimed at communicating key aspects of orthopaedic/musculoskeletal science to the general public. [Note: in addition to our 2023 event, you can read about past Open Door activities held in 2020 HERE.]

Open Door 2023’s target audience was middle school- and high school-aged students from the local Dallas area. A particular focus of this year’s event was outreach to under-represented minorities and first-generation students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, as the demographics of the participating school districts were >60% Hispanic/Latinx and >15% African American student populations.

The overarching goal of ORS Open Door 2023 was to get students excited about the possibility of future careers in the musculoskeletal sciences, introducing them to a wide variety of professional pathways and work performed by our ORS members. This year’s audience consisted of high school students who are considering college and future career plans, and middle school students who are choosing their educational trajectory (something that takes place in the Texas school system in middle school).

The program engaged participants in presentations and activities designed to teach about potential careers and topics related to musculoskeletal sciences. Events of the day featured four ORS speakers presenting short talks, a discussion panel of ORS members from under-represented minority backgrounds and first generation students, and three hands-on workshops/demos. The ORS partnered with STARS (Science Teacher Access to Resources at Southwestern) who provided space, A/V support, refreshments for the students (lunch), and registration.

2023 Speakers

John Drazan PhD, Fairfield University

Sports medicine & biomechanics

12 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Paula Hernandez PhD, UT Southwestern

Cartilage biology

12 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Robin Queen PhD, Virginia Tech

Gait biomechanics and engineering (translational research)

12 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Donna Pacicca MD, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Orthopaedic medicine

12 min + 5 min Q&A

2023 Workshops

John Drazan + 4 undergraduate assistants + 1 graduate assistant + 1 ECOTA volunteer
Location: NG3 Commons, Seating Capacity ~250

Event Goals:

  • Introduce participants to the engineering design process within the context of sports performance and musculoskeletal heath.
  • Provide a hands-on activity to engage participants in data collection pertaining to sports performance and musculoskeletal health.

This activity will introduce youth participants to scientific measurement through biomechanical analysis using DIY sport science tools created by students in the Fairfield School of Engineering. Each session will open with a discussion about the scientific method applied to activities outside of the traditional laboratory. We will introduce these students to a suite of tools developed at 4th Family Incorporated and the Fairfield School of Engineering that can be used to make measurements of athletic performance such as vertical jump height. Students will be broken into groups where they will develop a hypothesis of their choice pertaining to a question about athletic performance they find interesting. Student groups will have an opportunity to test this hypothesis using a device of their choice. Following a brief analysis, each group will briefly present their research to the rest of the group.

Carolyn Chlebek, Lara Pferdehirt, & Hope Welhaven + 2 ECOTA volunteers
Location: NG3 202 & 202A, Seating Capacity ~60

 Event Goals:

  • Provide a brief overview of cartilage and bone and the interaction between these tissues
  • Engage in an activity that shows different ways to alter the cartilage and bone interaction
    (e.g., trauma, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, age, etc.)

Workshop plan:

Students will receive a model / makeshift knee and simulate changes occurring in a patient with a musculoskeletal issue. The knee will include simulated “cartilage” and “bone” that workshop leaders will build beforehand (out of household materials). Each student will receive a small booklet that gives them background information on the condition of their “patient”. The workshop will start with everyone having a healthy joint and then as they progress through their booklet, they see changes happening to their knee.

For example, one student could be assigned a patient that has experienced a traumatic sports injury and torn their ACL, as they go through each step, they will make changes to their knee. For this example, they will remove a piece of their model’s cartilage to simulate the initial injury. Then, they would progress to losing more of their cartilage, at the end having an infiltration of inflammatory cytokines (simulated by addition of red sticky candy) and growth of osteophytes (simulated by addition of hard marbles) to visualize the changes that happen and the issues that this can cause to their joint.

At each step in the process, the workshop will be paused to ask the students to share what ideas they have to mitigate whatever change they made to their joint (e.g., someone may suggest replace the missing cartilage with new tissue, leading to a discussion about tissue engineering). They will also be encouraged to talk to others around them to learn more about other diseases. To guide the discussion, a sheet with important information about bones and cartilage will be provided as reference material so they can better understand the changes happening to the joint model.

Sade Williams Clayton & Lara Varden + 2 graduate assistants + 2 ECOTA volunteers
Location: ND 218, Seating Capacity ~60

Event Goals:

  • Introduce the anatomy, microstructure, and biomechanical movement of the spine

Workshop plan:

  • Large group: Presentation of background and basic anatomy of spine (Sade; PowerPoint)
    • ~5 min, Incorporating authentic human skeleton model loaned by UTSW
  • Active learning stations (3 stations). Volunteers in breakout groups will assist with instructions and items. Handout/s will be given to students/attendees at end that provides summary of information covered
    • Station 1: Microscopes – prestained slides of disc (functional unit from mice). Identify different tissues and structures. One projection microscope will be available for facilitator use & instruction (provided by Sade), and several “standard” light microscopes will be loaned by UTSW for hands-on use by student participants
      • Students will be provided printouts for color and labeling or blank sheets for drawing images and labeling
    • Station 2: Building a functional unit of spine (vertebra-disc-vertebra) using household materials. Wood or plastic blocks will be used as vertebra, cornstarch/glue/food coloring for NP, Pool noodle segments for AF, construction paper for CEP.
      • Replicated mechanical instability and degenerative representation will be demonstrated via a cut in the AF/pool noodle (cuts done by ORS volunteers). Students will visualize movement & extrusions due to the insult.
    • Station 3: Breaking down anatomical model for structure/function and discussion using skeletons and models and handouts and possible cut & paste project.

About the ORS

For over 60 years, the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) has been the leading research society supporting engineers, orthopaedic surgeons, biologists, and clinicians in pursuit of a world without musculoskeletal limitations.

The ORS continues to bring together the best researchers and surgeons in the world and gives them a community to share new research findings, discuss new ideas and to collaborate in new and innovative ways. The ORS offers programs that teach, mentor and encourage our members while inspiring them to move the field of orthopaedic research forward.

Learn more about how you can advocate for increased funding for musculoskeletal research.