I’m still working through many of the notes that I took during the 2019 BETT Show that wrapped up in a London a couple of weeks ago. One of the new things that I saw there was a new Hacking STEM project called Building Models to Understand and Mitigate Brain Injury. This is one the newest projects added to Microsoft’s Hacking STEM library.
In Building Models to Understand and Mitigate Brain Injury students create a model brain that is connected to pressure sensors to measure the force of impact on the brain from a hit to the head. Those sensors are connected to a Excel where data from each impact is immediately charted. My shakily recorded video shows the model and connected Excel sheet in action.
This project and corresponding lesson plan are intended for use with middle school students. Of course, you could modify it for high school students. The complete lesson plan is available for free right here. Microsoft estimates the cost of materials for the project at $3/ student excluding the Arduino circuit board which are not terribly expensive.
The lesson plan isn’t just building a model and recording data about impacts on the brain. There is a design component that you can add to the lesson. In the design component students design various helmets and helmet materials. They then test their designs using the same simulation method that was used to impact in the initial simulation.
While this project could be great for any middle school science class, it could be particularly meaningful to students who participate in sports like soccer and football that have a high risk of head injuries.