Students are introduced to the circulatory system with an emphasis on the blood clotting process, including coagulation and the formation and degradation of polymers through their underlying atomic properties. They learn about the medical emergency of strokes the loss of brain function commonly due to blood clots including various causes and the different effects depending on the brain location, as well as blood clot removal devices designed by biomedical engineers.
Students work as biomedical engineers to find liquid solutions that can clear away polyvinyl acetate polymer "blood clots" in model arteries (made of clear, flexible tubing). Teams create samples of the "blood clot" polymer with different concentrations to discover the concentration of the model clot and then test a variety of liquids to determine which most effectively breaks down the model blood clot. Students learn the importance of the testing phase in the engineering design process, because they are only given one chance to present the team's solution and apply it to the model blood clot.