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Generating Interest in Technology and Medical Devices Through an Interactive Educational Game

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Curriculum Exchange II

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.667.1 - 25.667.9



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Paper Authors


Devin R. Berg University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Orcid 16x16

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Devin R. Berg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Through his work at the Medical Devices Center, he has been involved with a number of engineering outreach activities targeted at K-12 students and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students through their product design and research projects in the area of medical device engineering. His research interests are in the area of design as applied to the health care field with a focus on mechatronics and biomimicry, and he is pursuing a career in engineering education.

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Lucas A. Harder University of Minnesota

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Arthur G. Erdman University of Minnesota

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Generating Interest in Technology and Medical Devices Through an Interactive Educational GameIn order to provide an interactive way to engage children and educate them in the field ofmedical devices, a life-sized version of the game Operation® by Hasbro, Inc. was made. Theoverall goal of the game was to stimulate interest in engineering and technology through thedemonstration of a relatable application. The cavities of the game board contain a variety ofmedical devices which are placed in locations appropriate to their real-life use. This display isused in a variety of situations ranging from community outreach events held at local fairs to in-school or museum demonstrations. The need for this sort of interactive display arose from theobservation that a traditional display consisting of medical devices placed next to theirdescriptions on a table received little attention from the general public and did not elicit interestor excitement in children.The game board as a whole stands at six feet tall and incorporates a variety of medical devicesincluding a pacemaker, surgical tools, an implantable drug delivery pump, and joint/boneimplants. The board also includes the traditional game play aspects of the original game in orderto incorporate a fun and engaging experience for children. The format of the game encourageschildren to grasp the various devices thus allowing them to examine them up close and inquireabout the nature of the device and what it is used for. Further, it was found that children relatedto the devices and tools more easily when presented with them in the context of a human bodywith accompanying verbal explanation rather than a table display and written explanation.Based upon observations at a variety of public events where the display has been used, it hasbeen found that the interactive game board has received significantly greater attention than atraditional table top display when placed together at the same event. This was particularlyevident at high traffic events where the number of visitors to the display averaged 1500 per day.Although the display is targeted at children in the K-5 age range (5-11 years old), it wasobserved that greater interest in the display and in medical devices was generated amongst allage groups including adults without children present. This result was likely due to the nostalgicvalue of the game and relatability to their own personal experiences.Much was learned about how to transform a subject matter previously inaccessible to childreninto something that is both engaging and relatable. While this is a work in progress, it isexpected that this result is applicable to many areas where it is desired to relay material to thoseunfamiliar with the field in an accessible and contextual manner.

Berg, D. R., & Harder, L. A., & Erdman, A. G. (2012, June), Generating Interest in Technology and Medical Devices Through an Interactive Educational Game Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21424

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