ASU raises bar for Moot Court competition

February 22, 2008

Law students from 20 universities around the country were at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law last week for the annual National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition.

The event, sponsored by the NNALSA chapters at the College of Law and at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, is giving Native American and other students the chance to improve their oral and written legal skills by debating a problem that’s germane to Indian law today. Download Full Image

More than 100 students, from the University of Hawaii’s William C. Richardson School of Law to Columbia Law School in New York, are participating in rounds Feb. 21 and 22, and the finals will be on Feb. 23. Winners will be selected based on the scores they earn for oral arguments and written briefs.

The final argument will be judged by an impressive panel – William C. Canby Jr. and Betty B. Fletcher, both of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Arizona Supreme Court Justice Scott Bales; Herb Yazzie, Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, and a 1975 alumnus of the College of Law, and Diane J. Humetewa, U.S. Attorney for Arizona and a 1993 graduate of the College of Law.

This year’s problem was authored by Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and a professor on leave from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. It deals with a dispute about the application of land-use and zoning laws to a parcel of land on an Indian reservation, where both a tribe and a municipality want to apply their own zoning laws.

“This problem is so great,” says Ann Begay, a third-year student at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and vice president of NNALSA.

“The question is always about jurisdiction because that’s the heart of federal Indian law, the conflict between the rights of the states and the federal government and how tribes can exercise their sovereignty.”

With its renowned Indian Legal Program and proximity to Indian Country, the law school is the ideal setting for the moot court competition, Begay says.

“We want to raise the bar for moot court to make it an Indian Country experience,” she says. “What better place to have it than Arizona, and at this law school, with a faculty that has such quality and influence?”

The Moot Court rounds, free and open to the public, will be held in Armstrong Hall and in the Ross-Blakley Law Library from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 22, and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Feb. 23.

Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


‘Wii’ bit of technology aids medical education

February 22, 2008

Practicing medicine is complicated, serious business. But learning to practice medicine – even surgical techniques – can be aided by some simple games designed for fun.

That’s a conclusion based on research by Kanav Kahol, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, and Marshall Smith, a surgeon with Banner Health who directs a medical education center at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. Kahol also is on the faculty at Smith’s education center. Download Full Image

Kahol and Smith conducted studies in which trainee surgeons played a Nintendo Wii video game called Marble Mania, which requires players to develop dexterity in their hand movements to succeed at the game.

The trainees then wore “cybergloves” that allowed Kahol and Smith to evaluate their performance in simulated surgery. The researchers discovered that the trainees who played Marble Mania performed the surgical exercises significantly better than those who did not play.

The results support other studies that have found that playing some types of electronic games could fine-tune motor skills essential to performing surgery, Kahol and Smith say.

The Wii game players showed 48 percent more improvement in their surgical techniques than the non-players. Kahol and Smith presented the results at the recent international Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference. (Their findings received a flurry of news media coverage which can be viewed at">">www.fulton.asu.e...)

In Marble Mania, players must roll a marble along pathways and ledges by deftly tilting the marble in different directions to keep it balanced along the course.

It’s a game requiring movements matching those that are needed to perform many surgical methods, Kahol says.

The Wii-playing surgical trainees who gained some mastery of Marble Mania demonstrated more improved accuracy and were able to work faster than the non-players, the researchers say.

“The science involved in this lies in choosing the right game for the development of the right skill,” Kahol says. “This is critical because it’s been shown that some games could lead to development of movement disorders.”

He and Smith used the cybergloves to carefully record the hand movements employed in playing particular games, then compared the movements to those used in actual surgery.

“We selected the games in which players make movements similar to ones required in surgical procedures,” Kahol says.
Kahol and Smith see the possibility of using Wii technology as a model for development of games or educational programs that simulate entire surgical procedures.

They are organizing a more extensive multi-site study to explore the idea in partnership with medical education researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities, the University of Washington and East Virginia Medical School.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering