Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Creative Biomechanics Project Using an Interactive Digital Experience as an Alternative Laboratory (IDEAL) – Phase 2

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Postcard Session (Best of Works in Progress)

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Elizabeth Mays Michigan State University

visit author page

Elizabeth earned her BSE and MSE in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. She then earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Elizabeth is currently a Post-doctoral Research Associate at Michigan State University, with a focus on Engineering Education research, specifically with using creative teaching methods to encourage student engagement, learning, and retention.

visit author page


Valerie A. Troutman Milwaukee School of Engineering

visit author page

Valerie Troutman earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN) and earned a M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University (Stanford, CA). After completing her Ph.D., she was a Post-doctoral Research Associate at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) before joining the Mechanical Engineering department at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, WI) as an Assistant Professor.

visit author page

author page

Geoffrey William John Grimm


Elizabeth Rose Pollack Michigan State University

visit author page

Liz Pollack is a PhD student at Michigan State University studying Mechanical Engineering. Her research interests include the designing process, and design education.

visit author page


Michele J. Grimm Michigan State University

visit author page

Michele J. Grimm is the Wielenga Creative Engineering Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Her research has focused on injury biomechanics – from characterizing important tissue properties to developing appropriate models for the assessment of injury mechanisms. Most recently, this has included working with obstetricians to identify the pathomechanics of neonatal brachial plexus injury. Based on this work, she served on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Task Force on Neonatal Brachial Plexus Palsy.

In addition to her scientific research, Dr. Grimm has spent a large part of her career focused on curriculum development and enhancement of student learning in engineering. She served on the faculty of Wayne State University for 25 years, where she developed and implemented both undergraduate and graduate programs in biomedical engineering and helped to establish a department of biomedical engineering. Her endowed professorship at MSU focuses on research to increase the success of students in engineering through creative pedagogical techniques.

Dr. Grimm completed her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at The Johns Hopkins University in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994.

She has just finished a 3-year rotation as a program director for three BME-related programs at the National Science Foundation. During this time, she served as co-chair of the White House’s Office of Science & Technology Policy Task Force on Research and Development for Technology to Support Aging Adults. She was recently named to the National Academy of Medicine’s Commission on a Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity. She is also completing her 5-year appointment as a commissioner with ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission.

She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Work in Progress: Creative Biomechanics Project using an Interactive Digital Experience as an Alternative Laboratory (IDEAL) – Phase 2

Active learning is known to improve learning and retention [1], and gamification via a “Choose Your Own Adventure” structure has been shown to improve student motivation to study [2]. We previously implemented Phase 1 of the Interactive Digital Experience as an Alternative Laboratory (IDEAL) for a creative biomechanics challenge problem [3]. Students were asked to analyze musculoskeletal biomechanics data to determine the mechanism of injury and the person-at-fault in a fictional forensic investigation. By incorporating a storyline and unique characters to encourage student-led investigation, students were more engaged with the IDEAL challenge problem as compared to traditional, open-ended challenge problems provided earlier in the course. Further, engaged students performed better on the IDEAL final report compared to less engaged students. Phase 1 was implemented through an email exchange between students and a fictional police contact. Responses were guaranteed between 9AM and 5PM, with an average response time of 11 minutes. We have expanded on this structure in Phase 2 by fully automating the student-led evidence collection process through Jupyter Notebook (Project Jupyter, USA). Jupyter Notebook allows students to request and instantaneously access evidence. Additionally, we have developed witness testimony videos, which can be requested along with the previously available evidence such as x-rays, medical records, and gait data. ZBrush (Pixlogic, USA) has been used to create the basic models for the characters and objects in the witness testimony videos. Maya (Autodesk, USA) was used to texture, rig, and animate the characters. Final videos have been compiled and edited in After Effects (Adobe, USA). Phase 2 will be implemented during the Spring 2021 semester, with data analysis expected by May 2021. As was done in Phase 1, traditional challenge problems will be used for the beginning of the semester, and results will be compared with the results for the IDEAL challenge problem performed at the end of the semester. Student engagement will be measured by the amount of evidence collected. Post problem surveys will evaluate student “appreciation” of the content and perceived self-confidence in problem solving. By using JupyterLab, the more complex, branching choices will give students more control of the evidence that they collect. The authors plan to make the developed characters, JupyterLab framework, and other project details available to support other faculty who wish to implement similar units within their courses, giving instructors the ability to create new scenarios that reflect their topics and learning objectives. References: [1] S. Freeman, S. L. Eddy, M. McDonough, M. K. Smith, N. Okoroafor, H. Jordt, et al., "Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, pp. 8410-8415, 2014. [2] D. P. Mundy and R. Consoli, "Here be dragons: experiments with the concept of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ in the lecture room," Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol. 50, pp. 214-223, 2013/05/01 2013. [3] (Author Names Omitted) “Interactive Digital Experience as an Alternative Laboratory (IDEAL): Creative Investigation with Data Analysis,” Proceedings of the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference, Virtual Meeting, June 2020.

Mays, E., & Troutman, V. A., & Grimm, G. W. J., & Pollack, E. R., & Grimm, M. J. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Creative Biomechanics Project Using an Interactive Digital Experience as an Alternative Laboratory (IDEAL) – Phase 2 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015