For students interested in studying biomechanical engineering, especially in the field of surgery, this lesson serves as an anatomy and physiology primer of the abdominopelvic cavity. Students are introduced to the abdominopelvic cavity—a region of the body that is the focus of laparoscopic surgery—as well as the benefits and drawbacks of laparoscopic surgery. Understanding the abdominopelvic environment and laparoscopic surgery is critical for biomechanical engineers who design laparoscopic surgical tools.
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Students teams use a laparoscopic surgical trainer to perform simple laparoscopic surgery tasks (dissections, sutures) using laparoscopic tools. Just like in the operating room, where the purpose is to perform surgery carefully and quickly to minimize patient trauma, students' surgery time and mistakes are observed and recorded to quantify their performances. They learn about the engineering component of surgery.
Student teams create laparoscopic surgical robots designed to reduce the invasiveness of diagnosing endometriosis and investigate how the disease forms and spreads. Using a synthetic abdominal cavity simulator, students test and iterate their remotely controlled, camera-toting prototype devices, which must fit through small incisions, inspect the organs and tissue for disease, obtain biopsies, and monitor via ongoing wireless image-taking. Note: This activity is the core design project for a semester-long, three-credit high school engineering course. Refer to the associated curricular unit for preparatory lessons and activities.
Students are introduced to detail drawings and the importance of clearly documenting and communicating their designs. They are introduced to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Y14.5 standard, which controls how engineers communicate and archive design information. They are introduced to standard paper sizes and drawing view conventions, which are major components of the Y14.5 standard.
Students practice creating rudimentary detail drawings. They learn how engineers communicate the technical information about their designs using the basic components of detail drawings. They practice creating their own drawings of a three-dimensional block and a special LEGO piece, and then make 3D sketches of an unknown object using only the information provided in its detail drawing.
Students observe and discuss a cup and pencil model of a cyclone to better understand the science behind how this pollutant recovery method functions in cleaning industrial air pollution.
Through this unit, students act as engineers who are given the challenge to design laparoscopic surgical tools. After learning about human anatomy and physiology of the abdominopelvic cavity, especially as it applies to laparoscopic surgery, students learn about the mechanics of elastic solids, which is the most basic level of material behavior. Then, they explore the world of fluids and learn how fluids react to forces. Next, they combine their understanding of the mechanics of solids and fluids to understand viscoelastic materials, such as those found in the human body. Finally, they learn about tissue mechanics, including how collagen, elastin and proteoglycans give body tissues their unique characteristics. In the culminating hands-on activity, student teams design their own prototypes of laparoscopic surgical robots remotely controlled, camera-toting devices that must fit through small incisions, inspect organs and tissue for disease, obtain biopsies, and monitor via ongoing wireless image-taking. They use a (homemade) synthetic abdominal cavity simulator to test and iterate the prototype devices.
To develop an understanding of modern industrial technologies that clean up and prevent air pollution, students build and observe a variety of simple models of engineering pollutant recovery methods: scrubber, electrostatic precipitator, cyclone and baghouse. In an associated literacy activity, students become more aware of global environmental problems and play a part in their solution by writing environmental action campaign letters.
The Tippy Tap hand-washing station is an inexpensive and effective device used extensively in the developing world. One shortcoming of the homemade device is that it must be manually refilled with water and therefore is of limited use in high-traffic areas. In this activity, student teams design, prototype and test piping systems to transport water from a storage tank to an existing Tippy Tap hand-washing station, thereby creating a more efficient hand-washing station. Through this example service-learning engineering project, students learn basic fluid dynamic principles that are needed for creating efficient piping systems.
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- TeachEngineering NGSS Aligned Resources
- Benjamin S. Terry, Kaisa Wallace-Moyer, Stephanie Rivale, Denise W. Carlson
- Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder,