Biomedical engineering students at Duke University don’t typically learn engineering concepts from a video of a lab manager pushing a cart filled with plush toys, but the 2020 Spring semester was anything but typical.
As the novel coronavirus began to spread around the globe in early March, universities around the country began to transition their in-person classes into online formats to limit risks for students. For biomedical engineers at Duke, this meant that faculty and staff who typically teach lab-focused courses had to find new and creative ways to virtually convey complicated concepts to their students.
Enter Marcus Henderson, the senior lab manager in Duke BME and the main star of a video series created for BME 302: Biomechanics.
“Usually students would use accelerometers to measure velocity of their fellow students, but with social distancing guidelines that wouldn’t be possible,” says Henderson. “Instead, we filmed a video where I pushed a cart filled with stuffed animals that are holding a Wii-mote. The students integrated the accelerations from this remote to get velocity, and then integrated again to find the traveled distance.
“It’s obviously not as great as an in-person course, but we found that these videos give students a clearer example of the engineering and physics they’re trying to learn, rather than just reading about the concepts in a textbook.”