CT AHEC’s Biomedical Engineering (BME) Discovery Program brings students aged 13-17 together for an immersion experience that includes problem solving, team development and hands-on application of knowledge and skills. During each Saturday session, students are introduced to concepts in BME in health care through hands-on activities, such as constructing hydraulic arms and designing prosthetic legs. The program is designed by educators and taught by health profession students passionate about the application of engineering in health care.
In addition to the emphasis on BME, the program brings in health profession students from UConn and Quinnipiac University to enlighten students about the different career paths in health care. The health professions students, referred to as Urban Service Track/AHEC Scholar coaches, are enrolled in one of the following disciplines: dental medicine, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physician assistant and social work.
BME Discovery Program participants work in small groups (no more than 4 students to a group) to do hands-on activities and participate in challenges. Throughout the day, participants are encouraged to work collaboratively to accomplish inquiry-based activities. For example, as part of the hydraulic arm unit, participants bring home a Pitsco hydraulic arm model kit. Participants involved in the prosthetic leg unit work as a team to design and build a functional prosthetic leg out of recyclable materials and bring home a mini-LEGO® kit for building a miniature version of a prosthetic leg. Participants in the heart valve unit learn blood pressure basics, work as a team to design and build a facsimile of a heart valve out of recyclable materials, and bring home a stethoscope. Participants in the neuroengineering unit will use a microscope to view neurons, use an Arduino board that allows muscle activity to control a bank of LEDs and bring home a silicone cast of their finger.
Feedback from student participants is impressive! Of the in-person sessions, 97% rated it a positive learning experience and 76% said the program increased their interest in biomedical engineering or health careers in general as a possible career path.
Feedback from student participants about virtual sessions (described below) is also notable! 98.5% have rated the sessions a positive learning experience and 82% said the program increased their interest in biomedical engineering or health careers in general as a possible career path.
Previous student participants said ...
"This program was an unbelievable experience. It was very fun and I had a blast with our coach and partners.”
"It was fun and we all had hands-on experience.”
Parents/guardians of previous student participants said ...
"My son very much enjoyed the program. It was a totally positive experience.”
"What a wonderful opportunity for children to learn. It was a great, fun-filled education program. I hope you continue to offer more so that kids get have an opportunity to see all kinds of careers available to them.”
“We hope to participate again.”
BME Discovery Program
2023-2024 Academic Year Activities
This year, we are offering a mix of in-person and virtual activities to reach the widest possible audience and meet a variety of needs and expectations. Registration link will be posted below around 30 days prior to the activity.
In-person (at UConn Health in Farmington):
The in-person activities are geared toward students ages 13-16 and are focused on hands-on activities. All sessions are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each student will be provided with a light breakfast snack and lunch, in addition to the relevant take-home item noted. The attendance fee is $59.
Spring 2024 schedule for in-person activities: TBA
Virtual (online "meeting"; kit mailed to the home):
We offer in-home, "virtual" versions of the hydraulic arm, prosthetic leg and heart-related activities. They are geared toward high school students ages 14-17 and include a health careers panel/discussion in addition to biomedical engineering-related content. This virtual Saturday morning activity is conducted using Webex or Zoom, free and secure online videoconferencing platforms. These virtual sessions are 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
A complete kit along with necessary tools and supplies needed to construct or design (depending on the activity) is shipped to students' homes in advance. Your student will need access to a computer (desktop or laptop) or Chromebook with internet connection. For the hydraulic arm activity, your student will need a table or desk near an electrical outlet with about three feet of space in order to participate and build his or her hydraulic arm. For the prosthetic leg and heart activities, your student will need a bit of desk or table space for designing/building.
Attendance fees for virtual activities:
Hydraulic Arm: $59
Prosthetic Leg: $45
Spring 2024 schedule for virtual activities:
Saturday, January 20, 2024: Heart