Revolutionizing STEM Education: The Power of Biomedical Devices

06 Jun 2024

Brian Bell, a DoD STEM Ambassador, Shares How Biomedical STEM Kits Engage Students in Active Learning

Build your own biomedical device! Educators use STEM kits to engage students in active learning.

Revolutionizing STEM Education: The Power of Biomedical Devices

The following was written by Brian Bell, a college professor specializing in biomedical engineering, and a DoD STEM Ambassador. DoD STEM Ambassadors work with the Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) to advance STEM outreach for students who are underrepresented in STEM or military connected. Bell was selected by St. Petersburg College, a DSEC partner, as its DoD STEM ambassador for the 2022-2023 school year.

Explore the world of biomedical devices! Learn how engineers and researchers monitor, diagnose, and treat various medical conditions. Educators in high school STEM camps and college-level courses are using biomedical STEM kits to promote active learning in their laboratories.

For example, electrocardiography (ECG) devices are used to measure the heart’s electrical activity and can detect irregularities such as arrhythmias, heart attacks, and other cardiac conditions. Electromyography (EMG) devices are used to measure muscular electrical activity and can help diagnose a range of neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

Both ECG and EMG devices are used extensively in clinical and research settings to gather valuable physiological data that can aid in diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. Educators are now able to bring these devices into the classroom.

How to start building and using your own biomedical devices

Students at St. Petersburg College are building their own ECG and EMG devices using kits from I have started using biomedical devices to teach an introduction to biomedical engineering course. Student engagement has drastically increased since I have started using these kits in the classroom. Students learn how to assemble and build their kits with online resources, including video. These same kits are tested in the classroom or at home by students. Younger generations of students also use them to learn about medical technology and STEM career fields. The kits are an effective tool to demonstrate medical technology to a wide variety of audiences with different levels of STEM learning experiences.

One of the most popular activities for STEM engagement includes controlling a video game using your EMG signal. (A video demonstration is at this link: By using the EMG controller kit, students learn about coding, Arduino microcontrollers, electrical signals, medical op amps, and human computer interfaces. Educators are also using these devices to build student confidence in STEM fields and teach students about engineering, electronics, and medical technology.

Students have lots to say about these projects:

  • “This project was great! I learned so much about how the body measures electrical signals, I never thought I would be able to build my own medical device!”
  • “I was able to learn about electromyography by playing a video game.”
  • “After using these STEM kits I realized that I want to learn more about engineering and medical equipment.”
  • “It was very cool and fulfilling to see the wave show up on the screen and knowing that I built that!”
  • “I loved this project because I learned how to program Arduino and how to troubleshoot.”

In recent years, biomedical devices have also been used to develop artificial intelligence, virtual reality, assistive technology, and games. Overall, biomedical technology is a fascinating and important tool in the medical field and beyond. As technology continues to develop, we may see even more innovative uses for EMGs in the future.

About DoD STEM and Defense STEM Education Consortium

Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) is a collaborative partnership of STEM-focused organizations dedicated to addressing and prioritizing our nation's STEM talent. DSEC aims to broaden STEM literacy and develop a diverse and agile workforce with the technical excellence to defend our nation. Through strategic investment in STEM education and outreach activities, the effort will provide students with more exposure to educational and career opportunities as well as DoD research. DSEC is led on behalf of DoD STEM by RTI International.