College Biomedical Engineering Education for High School Students:
Orientation and Hands-on Experiences
With the rising demands in life science industries and the increasing research interests in highly interdisciplinary biomedical engineering (BME), many universities have been implementing new initiatives to establish and expand BME programs. A college degree in BME instantly identifies a candidate as having training in both engineering and life science, and strengthens the candidate competency in job markets. Aiming at interesting high school students in college BME education, the project team designed, conducted and evaluated three activities: (1) teaching expertise training of high school teachers; (2) lab tours and seminars; and (3) summer camp. A total of 162 students and 6 teachers from three high schools in northern Nevada were participated in these activities. In the beginning of this project, a BME teaching expertise training workshop was organized for teachers. This workshop facilitated teachers to recruit high school students to participate in this project and prepare new BME curricula or after-school programs in their schools. The lab tours brought students to a college environment, demonstrated them college routine research activities, introduced them knowledge base of BME discipline. The seminars in high schools provided faculty members opportunities to talk with more students regarding the importance of BME R&D to human health, the rapid increase of college BME education, college application processes, and the BME job market perspective and sustainability. The summer camp was to seed scientific interests to high potential high school students through hands-on experience, and encouraged them to pursue college education or develop career plan in BME. While implementing the project activities, the project team investigated whether the designed activities (lab tours, seminars, and summer camp) helped students gain more understanding and interests in BME.
Some descriptive statistics from the surveys of these activities are listed as follows:
· among 89 students attending the seminars, at least 50% students agreed with the statements in the survey form, and they did enjoy the experiences from the seminar;
· more than 80% of 52 participants gained a good understanding on BME and expressed they enjoyed these tours and would like to recommend their friends to attend if there were chances in future; and
· 90% – 100% of 21 participants felt that they enjoyed the experiences and learned from the camp projects; they liked the lab experiments; they appreciated the opportunities to learn more about biomedical engineering, and more career options for their future; and they may want to explore their college studies in the BME area.
Through the analysis of all statistics data, it can be concluded that bringing students out of their schools to a fresh and friendly university environment and letting them achieve hands-on experiences on BEM technology are efficient approaches in enhancing their understanding and interests in BME. The research findings of this project were described in the paper entitled “Preparing high school students for college biomedical engineering through laboratory technology activities”, which was published in International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning (A peer-reviewed journal with 28-33% annual manuscript acceptance rate).