Short description Key concepts: mechanical tools, biomedical applications, iterative design Duration: 1 hour
Students use a variety of parts, from screws to plastic pieces, to create an endoscopic tool to remove objects from a mock body cavity.

In the hospital, doctors use endoscopic tools to perform minimally invasive surgeries on patients. These tools are developed by biomedical and mechanical engineers, who consider the difficulties that might arise for the surgeon, such as tight spaces or limited movement. Students will recreate this design process through erector sets or similar toys. A “surgeon” can describe issues that she/he faces during the surgery, and the students will build “grabber” tools using available resources to solve such issues. These tools can then be tested in a mock body cavity, with obstacles and challenges designed to encourage competition. This allows for iterative processes if the original design did not completely or adequately solve the surgeon’s issues. This project can also be enhanced through cheap endoscopic USB cameras, further mimicking the surgeries performed.

It can be made competitive by challenging the kids to move the most objects in fixed amount of time.

An example tool:

Resources Detailed description and a bill of materials can be found at this link and you can see the handout embedded below (use the link if the handout is misformatted).