As an introduction to bioengineering, student teams are given the engineering challenge to design and build prototype artificial limbs using a simple syringe system and limited resources. As part of a NASA lunar mission scenario, they determine which substance, water (liquid) or air (gas), makes the appendages more efficient.
Students are presented with a hypothetical scenario in which they are biomedical engineers asked to design artificial hearts. Using the engineering design process as a guide, the challenge is established and students brainstorm to list everything they might need to know about the heart in order to create a complete mechanical replacement (size, how it functions, path of blood etc.). They conduct research to learn the information and organize it through various activities. They research artificial heart models that have already been used and rate their performance in clinical trials. Finally, they analyze the data to identify the artificial heart features and properties they think work best and document their findings in essay form.
Students design and develop a useful assistive device for people challenged by fine motor skill development who cannot grasp and control objects. In the process of designing prototype devices, they learn about the engineering design process and how to use it to solve problems. After an introduction about the effects of disabilities and the importance of hand and finger dexterity, student pairs research, brainstorm, plan, budget, compare, select, prototype, test, evaluate and modify their design ideas to create devices that enable a student to hold and use a small paintbrush or crayon. The design challenge includes clearly identified criteria and constraints, to which teams rate their competing design solutions. Prototype testing includes independent evaluations by three classmates, after which students redesign to make improvements. To conclude, teams make one-slide presentations to the class to recap their design projects. This activity incorporates a 3D modeling and 3D printing component as students generate prototypes of their designs. However, if no 3D printer is available, the project can be modified to use traditional and/or simpler fabrication processes and basic materials.
Students learn more about assistive devices, specifically biomedical engineering applied to computer engineering concepts, with an engineering challenge to create an automatic floor cleaner computer program. Following the steps of the design process, they design computer programs and test them by programming a simulated robot vacuum cleaner (a LEGO® robot) to move in designated patterns. Successful programs meet all the design requirements.
In this multi-day activity, students explore environments, ecosystems, energy flow and organism interactions by creating a scale model biodome, following the steps of the engineering design process. The Procedure section provides activity instructions for Biodomes unit, lessons 2-6, as students work through Parts 1-6 to develop their model biodome. Subjects include energy flow and food chains, basic needs of plants and animals, and the importance of decomposers. Students consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence of an ecosystem can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our own communities. This activity can be conducted as either a very structured or open-ended design.
Students investigate the bone structure of a turkey femur and then create their own prototype versions as if they are biomedical engineers designing bone transplants for a bird. The challenge is to mimic the size, shape, structure, mass and density of the real bone. Students begin by watching a TED Talk about printing a human kidney and reading a news article about 3D printing a replacement bone for an eagle. Then teams gather data—using calipers to get the exact turkey femur measurements—and determine the bone’s mass and density. They make to-scale sketches of the bone and then use modeling clay, plastic drinking straws and pipe cleaners to create 3D prototypes of the bone. Next, groups each cut and measure a turkey femur cross-section, which they draw in CAD software and then print on a 3D printer. Students reflect on the design/build process and the challenges encountered when making realistic bone replacements. A pre/post-quiz, worksheet and rubric are included. If no 3D printer, shorten the activity by just making the hand-generated replicate bones.
Students are introduced to the concept and steps of the engineering design process and taught how to apply it. Students first receive some background information about biomedical engineering (aka bioengineering). Then they learn about material selection and material properties by using a provided guide. In small groups, students learn of their design challenge (improve a cast for a broken arm), brainstorm solutions, are given materials and create prototypes. To finish, teams communicate their design solutions through class poster presentations.
Student teams creatively construct mobiles using hangers and assorted materials and objects while exploring the principles of balance and center of mass. They build complex, free-hanging structures by balancing pieces with different lengths, weights, shapes and sizes.
Students construct bird nests and birdhouses. They research birds of their choosing and then design houses that meet the birds' specific needs. It works well to conduct this activity in conjunction with a grades 9-12 woodshop class by partnering the older students with the younger students (but it is not required to do this in order to conduct the activity).
Students create models of objects of their choice, giving them skills and practice in techniques used by professionals. They make sketches as they build their objects. This activity facilitates a discussion on models and their usefulness.
After completing the associated lesson and its first associated activity, students are familiar with the 20 major bones in the human body knowing their locations and relative densities. When those bones break, lose their densities or are destroyed, we look to biomedical engineers to provide replacements. In this activity, student pairs are challenged to choose materials and create prototypes that could replace specific bones. They follow the steps of the engineering design process, researching, brainstorming, prototyping and testing to find bone replacement solutions. Specifically, they focus on identifying substances that when combined into a creative design might provide the same density (and thus strength and support) as their natural counterparts. After iterations to improve their designs, they present their bone alternative solutions to the rest of the class. They refer to the measured and calculated densities for fabricated human bones calculated in the previous activity, and conduct Internet research to learn the densities of given fabrication materials (or measure/calculate those densities if not found online).
Students learn about power generation using river currents. A white paper is a focused analysis often used to describe how a technology solves a problem. In this literacy activity, students write a simplified version of a white paper on an alternative electrical power generation technology. In the process, they develop their critical thinking skills and become aware of the challenge and promise of technological innovation that engineers help to make possible. This activity is geared towards fifth grade and older students and computer capabilities are required. Some portions of the activity may be appropriate with younger students. CAPTION: Upper Left: Trey Taylor, President of Verdant Power, talks about green power with a New York City sixth-grade class. Lower Left: Verdant Power logo. Center: Verdant Power's turbine evaluation vessel in New York's East River. In the background is a conventional power plant. Upper Right: The propeller-like turbine can be raised and lowered from the platform of the turbine evaluation vessel. Lower Right: Near the East River, Mr. Taylor explains to the class how water currents can generate electric power.
Students become familiar with the engineering design process as they design, build and test chair prototypes. The miniature chairs must be sturdy and functional enough to hold a wooden, hinged artist model or a floppy stuffed animal. They use their prototypes to assess design strengths and weaknesses.
Following the steps of the engineering design process and acting as biomedical engineers, student teams use everyday materials to design and develop devices and approaches to unclog blood vessels. Through this open-ended design project, they learn about the circulatory system, biomedical engineering, and conditions that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
An ethnography expedition enables you to gain understanding, discover insights, and (re)frame design opportunities.
An experiment expedition allows you to test and refine solution(s)/intervention(s) and question underlying assumptions. There are typically many stages of prototyping before determining your ultimate intervention. Mark your current understanding of your stage of testing for this expedition (What are you testing?)
Students practice the initial steps involved in an engineering design challenge. They begin by reviewing the steps of the engineering design loop and discussing the client need for the project. Next, they identify a relevant context, define the problem within their design teams, and examine the project's requirements and constraints. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on, which could be a challenge determined by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example project challenge provided [to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function].)
Students learn about the manufacturing phase of the engineering design process. They start by building prototypes, which is a special type of model used to test new design ideas. Students gain experience using a variety of simple building materials, such as foam core board, balsa wood, cardstock and hot glue. They present their prototypes to the class for user testing and create prototype iterations based on feedback. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on; this activity is Step 5 in a series of six that guide students through the engineering design loop.)
This is a highly adaptable outline for how design thinking could be introduced to your learners over a multi-day project. This plan works best if students are divided up into groups of 3-4 for all work except the introduction to each concept at the beginning of class. Learners should stay in the same group for the whole class.
Includes pre-work links, general instructions to guide planning for each day, design thinking student handouts, and multi-grade NGSS standards linked to design thinking.
Engineer and cartoonist Rube Goldberg is famous for his crazy machines that accomplish everyday tasks in overly complicated ways. Students use their new understanding of types of simple machines to design and build their own Rube Goldberg machines that perform simple tasks in no less than 10 steps.