Student teams investigate biomedical engineering and the technology of prosthetics. Students create a model prosthetic lower leg using various materials. Each team demonstrate its prosthesis' strength and consider its pros and cons, giving insight into the characteristics and materials biomedical engineers consider in designing artificial limbs.
Students design and build prototypes for protective eyewear. They choose different activities or sports that require protective eyewear and design a device for that particular use. Students learn about the many ways in which the eyes can be damaged and how engineers incorporate different features and materials into eyewear designs to best protect the eyes.
Students learn about how biomedical engineers aid doctors in repairing severely broken bones. They learn about using pins, plates, rods and screws to repair fractures. They do this by designing, creating and testing their own prototype devices to repair broken turkey bones.
Students use their knowledge about how healthy heart valves function to design, construct and implant prototype replacement mitral valves for hypothetical patients' hearts. Building on what they learned in the associated lesson about artificial heart valves, combined with the testing and scoring of their prototype heart valve designs in this activity, students discover the pros and cons of different types of artificial heart valves based on materials, surgery requirements, and lifespan.
Students participate in a variety of activities modeling different disabilities. They gain a better understanding of physical limitations while performing tasks at workstations without the use of their thumbs (taped down), impaired vision (various glasses) and impaired mobility (using crutches and wheelchairs). After discussing their experiences, they work in teams to create or improve on an adaptive device. Like biomedical engineers, students are challenged to design with the purpose of helping make a particular task easier for another person.
Students learn how engineering design is applied to solve healthcare problems by using an engineering tool called simulation. While engineering design is commonly used to study and design everything from bridges, factories, airports to space shuttles, the use of engineering design to study healthcare administration and delivery is a relatively new concept.
Towards finding a solution to the unit's Grand Challenge Question about using nanoparticles to detect, treat and protect against skin cancer, students continue the research phase in order to answer the next research questions: What is the structure and function of skin? How does UV radiation affect the chemical reactions that go on within the skin? After seeing an ultraviolet-sensitive bead change color and learning how they work, students learn about skin anatomy and the effects of ultraviolet radiation on human skin, pollution's damaging effect on the ozone layer that can lead to increases in skin cancer, the UV index, types of skin cancer, ABCDEs of mole and lesion evaluation, and the sun protection factor (SPF) rating system for sunscreens. This prepares students to conduct the associated activity, in which they design quality-control experiments to test SPF substances.
Students develop a persuasive peer-to-peer case against smoking, with the goal to understand how language usage can influence perception, attitudes and behavior.
Students learn about the strength of bones and methods of helping to mend fractured bones. During a class demonstration, a chicken bone is broken by applying a load until it reaches a point of failure (fracture). Then, working as biomedical engineers, students teams design their own splint or cast to help repair a fractured bone, learning about the strength of materials used.
This unit focuses on teaching students about the many aspects of biomedical engineering (BME). Students come to see that BME is a broad field that relies on concepts from many engineering disciplines. They also begin to understand some of the special considerations that must be made when dealing with the human body. Activities and class discussions encourage students to think as engineers to come up with their own solutions to some of medical challenges that have been solved throughout the history of BME. Class time iincludes brainstorming and presenting ideas to the class for discussion. Specific activities include examination of the material properties and functions of surgical instruments and prosthetics, a simulation of the training experience of a surgical resident, and an investigation of the properties of fluid flow in vascular tissue.
Students are introduced to the unit challenge discovering a new way to assess a person's risk of breast cancer. Solving this challenge requires knowledge of refraction and the properties of light. After being introduced to the challenge question, students generate ideas related to solving the challenge, and then read a short online article on optical biosensors that guides their research towards solving the problem.
Through four lessons and three hands-on activities, students learn the concepts of refraction and interference in order to solve an engineering challenge: "In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy, not because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but merely to lower her cancer risk. But what if she never inherited the gene(s) that are linked to breast cancer and endured surgery unnecessarily? Can we create a new method of assessing people's genetic risks of breast cancer that is both efficient and cost-effective?" While pursuing a solution to this challenge, students learn about some high-tech materials and delve into the properties of light, including the equations of refraction (index of refraction, Snell's law). Students ultimately propose a method to detect cancer-causing genes by applying the refraction of light in a porous film in the form of an optical biosensor. Investigating this challenge question through this unit is designed for an honors or AP level physics class, although it could be modified for conceptual physics.
Students learn about glaucoma its causes, how it affects individuals and how biomedical engineers can identify factors that trigger or cause this eye disease, specifically the increase of pressure in the eye. Students also learn how RFID technologies transfer energy through waves and how engineers apply their scientific understanding of waves, energy and sensors to develop devices that measure the pressure in the eyes of people with glaucoma. Students conclude by sketching their own designs for a pressure-measuring eye device, preparing them to conduct the associated activity in which they revise, prototype and evaluate their device designs made tangible with a 3D printer.
This unit on nanoparticles engages students with a hypothetical Grand Challenge Question that asks about the skin cancer risk for someone living in Australia, given the local UV index and the condition of the region's ozone layer. The question asks how nanoparticles might be used to help detect, treat and protect people from skin cancer. Through three lessons, students learn about the science of electromagnetic radiation and energy waves, human skin and its response to ultraviolet radiation, and the state of medical nanotechnology related to skin cancer. Through three hands-on activities, students perform flame tests to become familiar with the transfer of energy in quantum form, design and conduct their own quality-control experiments to test sun protection factors (SPFs), and write nanotechnology grant proposals.
Students learn how viruses invade host cells and hijack the hosts' cell-reproduction mechanisms in order to make new viruses, which can in turn attack additional host cells. Students also learn how the immune system responds to a viral invasion, eventually defeating the viruses -- if all goes well. Finally, they consider the special case of HIV, in which the virus' host cell is a key component of the immune system itself, severely crippling it and ultimately leading to AIDS. The associated activity, Tracking a Virus, sets the stage for this lesson with a dramatic simulation that allows students to see for themselves how quickly a virus can spread through a population, and then challenges students to determine who the initial bearers of the virus were.
In this service-learning engineering project, students follow the steps of the engineering design process to design a hearing testing device. More specifically, they design a prototype machine that can be used to test the peripheral vision of partially-blind, pre-verbal children. Students learn about the basics of vision and vision loss. They also learn how a peripheral vision tester for adults works (by testing the static peripheral vision in the four quadrants of the visual field with four controllable lights in specific locations). Then they modify the idea of the adult peripheral vision tester to make it usable for testing young children. The class designs and builds one complete prototype, working in sub-groups of four or five students each to build sub-components of the project design.
Students are presented with the unit's grand challenge problem: You are the lead engineer for a biomaterials company that has a cardiovascular systems client who wants you to develop a model that can be used to test the properties of heart valves without using real specimens. How might you go about accomplishing this task? What information do you need to create an accurate model? How could your materials be tested? Students brainstorm as a class, then learn some basic information relevant to the problem (by reading the transcript of an interview with a biomedical engineer), and then learn more specific information on how heart tissues work their structure and composition (lecture information presented by the teacher). This prepares them for the associated activity, during which students cement their understanding of the heart and its function by dissecting sheep hearts to explore heart anatomy.
Students are introduced to the concepts of the challenge question. First independently, and then in small groups, they generate ideas for solving the grand challenge introduced in the associated lesson: Your grandmother has a fractured hip and a BMD of -3.3. What medical diagnosis explains her condition? What are some possible causes? What are preventative measures for other family members? Students complete a worksheet that contains the pertinent questions, as well as develop additional questions of their own, all with the focus on determining what additional background knowledge they need to research. Finally, as a class, students compile their ideas, resulting in a visual as a learning supplement.
Students further their understanding of the engineering design process while combining mechanical engineering and bioengineering to create assistive devices. During this extended activity (seven class periods), students are given a fictional client statement and required to follow the steps of the engineering design process (EDP) to design a new wristwatch face for a visually impaired student at their school. Student groups share their designs with the class through design presentations. A successful design meets all of the student-generated design requirements, including the development of a new method of representing time that does not require the sense of sight. Through this activity, students design, construct and iterate classroom prototypes of their watch designs.
Student teams learn about and devise technical presentations on four reproductive technology topics pregnancy ultrasound, amniocentesis, in-vitro fertilization or labor anesthetics. Each team acts as a panel of engineers asked to make a presentation to a group of students unfamiliar with the reproductive technology. Each group incorporates non-lecture elements into its presentation for greater effectiveness. As students learn about the technologies, by creating a presentation and listening to other groups' presentations, they also learn more about the valuable skill of technical communications.