Biomedical IDEAS Lab was easily one of the most impactful and valuable classes of my undergrad BME degree (I mean how could it not be with a name like that?). While I cannot recall the exact meaning of the acronym, the year long lab course incorporated hands-on projects covering the diverse curriculum of biomedical engineering, from culturing cells to building a circuit for electrocardiography (ECG). The course was organized as a series of modules taught by different instructors depending on the topic.
I found the project-based learning of IDEAS Lab extremely effective. Working in small teams (typically 4 students) allowed me to take an active role in the labs and provided the benefit of group discussion. I found the lab preparation scheme to be particularly effective. To introduce each module outside of the physical lab space, the instructor of the week would give a brief lecture. From the lecture and any other notes that were available, we would take a timed quiz on the material at the very beginning of the lab. I remember the quizzes being very well written, short but thought-provoking, applying the concepts we had learned in the lecture hall. I can still recall multiple quizzes in which, mid-quiz, everything clicked and I could see how the hands-on lab would apply all of my new knowledge. We would also review the answers to the quizzes right after everyone was done. I appreciated the direct, immediate feedback.
As I reflect on IDEAS Lab, I recognize the importance of motivating a new topic and allowing for connections in the classroom. With IDEAS Lab there were multiple chances to digest the application of the lab work, from the original lecture to the hands-on lab time to the report writing. I would like to incorporate these key concepts of motivating the topic, craftily testing individual knowledge, allowing for team-based hands-on activity, and providing valuable feedback into a project-based classroom experience.