Biomedical Engineering Students Recognized for Outreach Efforts

biomaterials education challenge groupFrom left: Bobby Moglia, Mary Beth Browning, Bagrat Grigoryan and Raymond Fei received second-place honors for their project, “Hydrogels for Drug Delivery.”

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, April 16, 2013 – A group of students from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University has been recognized by the Society of Biomaterials (SFB) for an outreach project aimed at enhancing biomaterials education among middle-school students

Graduate students Mary Beth Browning, Raymond Fei and Bobby Moglia along with undergraduate Bagrat Grigoryan received second-place honors for their project, “Hydrogels for Drug Delivery.” As part of their award, the Texas A&M SFB student chapter will receive $1,500 and the group’s project will be featured in the 2013 issue of the “Biomaterials Forum” as well on the SFB website.

The group’s award-winning project was part of the Biomaterials Education Challenge, an SFB-sponsored educational initiative that encourages the organization’s student chapters and other student groups to develop innovative and practical approaches to biomaterials education.

The challenge tasks student teams with developing educational modules for middle school (sixth–eighth grades) science classes. Each educational module is intended to demonstrate fundamental biomaterials concepts with scientific principles that tailored to a middle-school audience and designed for a 45-minute class period.

The education modules feature hands-on components and are designed in a way that they are easily incorporated into typical middle-school science courses. They emphasize clear educational objectives and make use of materials that are easily obtained by middle-school teachers.

The Texas A&M group’s outreach project was recognized based on its potential for educational impact, innovation, practicality and likelihood of widespread adoption and dissemination. 

Their project is aimed at helping middle-school students gain an understanding of how pills can be designed to deliver medicine inside the human body at the proper time, Browning says. As part of the module, students are asked to help design a pill to deliver a new medication that can be taken orally to treat cancer, Cancer-No-More. It’s a creative prompt through which students use crosslinked gelatin containing a colored dye to track diffusion rates.

Their goal, Moglia says, is to determine the effects on release time of taking two small pills compared with one large pill. The unit builds upon the students’ existing biology and chemistry lessons with discussion and observation of polymeric network formation, hydrophilicity, and diffusion, and it incorporates grade-appropriate pre-algebra, arithmetic and statistics.

The goals of the Biomaterials Education Challenge are to improve widespread understanding of biomaterials-related science and careers in the middle-school population; to encourage SFB student chapters to participate in K-8 outreach efforts; and to reward the communication skills and creativity of the next generation of biomaterials researchers and educators. 

SFB is a professional society that promotes advances in biomedical materials research and development by encouragement of cooperative educational programs, clinical applications and professional standards in the biomaterials field.