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.
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Students are given a biomedical engineering challenge, which they solve while following the steps of the engineering design process. In a design lab environment, student groups design, create and test prototype devices that help people using crutches carry things, such as books and school supplies. The assistive devices must meet a list of constraints, including a device weight limit and minimum load capacity. Students use various hand and power tools to fabricate the devices. They test the practicality of their designs by loading them with objects and then using the modified crutches in the school hallways and classrooms.
Students design and create sensory integration toys for young children with developmental disabilities an engineering challenge that combines the topics of biomedical engineering, engineering design and human senses. Students learn the steps of the engineering design process (EDP) and how to use it for problem solving. After learning about the human sensory system, student teams apply the EDP to their sensory toy projects. They design and make plans within given project constraints, choose materials, fabricate prototypes, evaluate the prototypes, and give and receive peer feedback. Students experience the entire design-build-test-redesign process and conclude with a class presentation in which they summarize their experiences with the EDP steps and their sensory toy project development.