CT AHEC’s Biomedical Engineering (BME) Discovery Program brings students aged 13-16 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 neuromuscular stimulation 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 past year's sessions, 99% rated it a positive learning experience and 93% said the program provided them with a better understanding of how BME concepts can be applied in health care.
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
2020-2021 Academic Year Activities
Due to the continuing health and safety issues related to COVID-19, we have created an in-home, "virtual" versions of the hydraulic arm and prosthetic leg activities.
This virtual Saturday morning activity will be conducted using Webex or Zoom, free and secure online videoconferencing platforms.
A complete kit along with necessary tools and supplies needed to construct it will be 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 near an electrical outlet with about three feet of space in order to participate and build his or her hydraulic arm.
Hydraulic Arm: $59
Prosthetic Leg: $45
Activities will take place on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 12:15 pm.
2021-2022 Academic Year Activities
Check back in August for schedules and registration links.