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Students Pick Cataracts as their FIRST Challenge

View of an Eye with a CataractEven unsuccessful contestants in the FIRST Lego League competition come up with imaginative ideas. A case in point is the team from Urbandale, Iowa. Challenged to build robots to tackle a biomedical engineering problem, they decided on cataracts.

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Lesson: Build a Prosthetic Device

Man Running with ProstheticStudent in grades 4 – 8 are introduced to biomedical engineering and the technology of prosthetics. As they create a model prosthetic lower leg, testing its strength and considering pros and cons, they learn about issues and materials that biomedical engineers consider in designing artificial limbs.

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Feature: A Joint Effort

Lisa Pruitt with Horse JJ at a Summer WorkshopFor people with damaged or painful joints, something like a knee or hip replacement can be the key to a better life. It can also weaken, wear out, or break. That’s where mechanical and bioengineering Prof. Lisa Pruitt comes in.

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Custom Golf Clubs for Quadruple Amputee

Custom Golf Clubs from PINGA team of research engineers at golf equipment company PING has created a set of custom-fitted golf clubs for a man who has been a quadruple amputee since 2005. The researchers developed “a workable prototype” for Mesa, Arizona’s Jeff Lewis and worked with a prosthetist to develop a set of unique clubs.

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Superflipper Puts Amputees in the Competitive Swim

NeptuneFit and athletic amputees – like sprinter/long-jumper Aimee Mullins – have proved over and over that the loss of a limb is no reason to give up sports. Amputee swimmers, however, have been held back — until now. Enter Neptune, a colorful but functional superflipper designed for competitive amputee swimmers.

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Lesson: MRI Safety Challenge

Modern MRIThinking like safety engineers, students in grades 11 and 12 examine the potential risks associated with magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. They gather information by brainstorming, writing in journals, and viewing a video, and then produce a final presentation that concisely summarizes MRI technology and safety precautions.

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High-End Science for High School Students

Test TubesA Texas bioengineering professor believes that students will be more ready for college science and engineering if exposed to university-level research while still inhigh school. He’s testing that notion with the help of a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant that brings students into his neuro-tissue lab to help with engineering research and then studies their progress.

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Feature: Where an Interest in Snakes Can Lead

CobraThere aren’t too many high schoolers who carry out a chemistry experiment that might save lives. Samantha Piszkiewicz and Nicolai Doreng-Stearns, however, did just that. Leading a five-student team at Laguna Beach High School in California, they developed a synthetic antivenom for the treatment of poisonous snakebites.

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Activity: Slinkies and Magnetic Fields

Students use an old fashioned children’s toy, a metal slinky to mimic and understand the magnetic field generated in an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. Students run a current through the slinky and use computer and calculator software to explore the magnetic field created by the slinky.

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