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Vertical Laboratories: Within Biomedical Engineering Courses And Across The Curriculum

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

BME Introductory Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1445.1 - 10.1445.6



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Paper Authors

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Samantha Richerson

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Daniel Cavanagh

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Session XXXX

Vertical Laboratories: Within Biomedical Engineering Courses and Across the Curriculum

Samantha J. Richerson, Daniel P. Cavanagh

Biomedical Engineering Program & Department of Electrical Engineering / Biomedical Engineering Program & Department of Chemical Engineering Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA


In an effort to enable our students to further build their knowledge base experimentally, a new vertical laboratory method is currently being developed and implemented into the Introduction to Biomedical Engineering class at Bucknell University. This vertical laboratory centers on a few experimental setups that can be utilized to offer a range of hands-on experiences that vary in complexity and allow our student to focus on the concept being presented instead of the experimental set-up.


As in most introductory classes, many assumptions are made to simplify the concepts and problems encountered by students. As the class progresses, the assumptions are relaxed leading to more difficult concepts and problems. This process relies on the building of knowledge from a strong base and the adding of additional knowledge to supplement that base.

However, most laboratory protocols in the introductory classes are demonstration based. Students work on a protocol designed by the instructor that proves a concept learned in lecture. Each laboratory is frequently an island unto itself, with no building of conceptual knowledge from one lab to the next. Additionally, most of these laboratories have a detailed protocol, not allowing the student to design or experimentally learn concepts on their own.

In these laboratory experiences, basic skills into scientific inquiry or the scientific method are often overshadowed by procedural problems. Students spend much of their laboratory time on the nuances of equipment and the prescribed data collection instead of on the observation, prediction, and inference that is the basis of the scientific method. It has been shown that these skills of observation, measurement, prediction, and inference are those skills necessary to build a foundation for learning more complicated and integrated skills such as data analysis, interpretation, design of experiments and model formation1-3. These higher level skills are often a

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Richerson, S., & Cavanagh, D. (2005, June), Vertical Laboratories: Within Biomedical Engineering Courses And Across The Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14827

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