A Physical Hydraulic Model of the Systemic Circulation for Teaching Purposes:

"Engineering Anatomy - Build your Own Cardiovascular System"


The general goal of this research study is to investigate a novel approach in teaching and learning anatomy and physiology for the biomedical engineering students (and potentially medical students too). Conventionally, despite using static plastic model of the human organs in the anatomy and physiology labs, there is still a gap to acquiring a deeper understanding on the mechanical aspects of the human body. As such, this study has developed an innovative learning tool that encouraged the biomedical engineering students to build their own cardiovascular system using simple engineering components that they are already familiar with. An assessment based on the concept of “the illusion of explanatory depth” is employed in this study to assess students’ level of understanding of the cardiovascular system.

Recently, a small scale study involving six biomedical engineering students from the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE) was carried out to test the new cardiovascular lab module. Students are expected to attend a 3 hours session that constitutes of a 1 hour class with Dr Willem van Meurs, an expert in modelling and simulation, followed by a 2 hours lab session held at the SCBE, M&E Balance Laboratory at NTU. To prepare students for the lab, basic requirements and conceptual model of the systemic circulation are introduced in the class. Due to time and mechanical constraints, a scaled down version of the physical prototype model of the circulatory system was developed in the study. Therefore, the numerical values of the physiological measurement used for the lab demo is based on the requirements of the feasible prototype model. The information students have previously acquired in the class will allow them to complete the lab exercises. The new lab gave students the opportunity to explore the various mechanical components provided for the experiment. The main aim of the lab module is for students to be able to build a working physical hydraulic model of the systemic circulation using the correct components and connection. Students are expected to perform their own assessment when selecting for the right components using the materials provided in the lab. Via this lab, students will be able to explore and learn various pathologies and critical incidents that may adversely affect the functions of the organ. At the end of the session, they are required to answer a list of questions that will contribute to our data and will be reported as our research findings.

This project is supported by the EdeX Grant 2018 – Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy Division NTU, and NTU Institute for Health Technologies.

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