Biomaterials Outreach Workshop for Middle School Students

iBEAM is a summer outreach program designed by IBBME faculty member Dr. Penney Gilbert to get 12-13 year olds excited about biomedical engineering. iBEAM stands for Biomedical Engineering and Me, so Santerre Lab members and iBEAM volunteers Meghan, Mike L, and Jennifer designed a workshop that highlighted how biomaterials intersect with the every day life of the participating young students. This is only the second iteration of iBEAM (see our post about our first year here!) but the impact has already almost tripled from about 20 students last year to over 60 this summer. 

The workshop challenged the students to think like biomedical engineers in order to design and build their own artificial vessels using real biomaterials. We chose 4 biomedical polymers that are also used in non-medical applications and ubiquitous in the world around us: polyethylene (a plastic bag!), polyester (a piece of fabric!), polyurethane (some lime green Spandex), and polytetrafluoroethylene (a Teflon sheet). It's a great interactive project that encourages kids to build a design that mimics the natural physiology of a blood vessel and meets some of the most important criteria of a functional artificial vessel. In fact, we asked the students to test their designs using a test that simulates an ASTM burst test. 

Find the activity details here!