Students teams use a laparoscopic surgical trainer to perform simple laparoscopic surgery tasks (dissections, sutures) using laparoscopic tools. Just like in the operating room, where the purpose is to perform surgery carefully and quickly to minimize patient trauma, students' surgery time and mistakes are observed and recorded to quantify their performances. They learn about the engineering component of surgery.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standard Network (ASN), a project of JES & Co. (www.jesandco.org).
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- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- A. The use of tools and machines can be helpful or harmful. (Grades 0 - 2)  ...show
- D. The use of technology affects humans in various ways, including their safety, comfort, choices, and attitudes about technology's development and use. (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- F. Social and cultural priorities and values are reflected in technological devices. (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- New York: Math
- Measurement Strand (Grades -1 - 8)  ...show
- New York: Science
- S1.4 Seek to clarify, to assess critically, and to reconcile with their own thinking the ideas presented by others, including peers, teachers, authors, and scientists (Grades 5 - 8)  ...show
- 1. Engineering design is an iterative process involving modeling and optimization finding the best solution within given constraints which is used to develop technological solutions to problems within given constraints. (Grades 0 - 8)  ...show
- Identify common laparoscopic tools.
- Perform simple simulated laparoscopic surgical procedures such as stretching and dissection, tissue identification and manipulation, and suturing.
- Brainstorm and generate concepts for new laparoscopic surgical tools that improve upon the state-of-the-art.
- 1-in x 2-in x 22-ft wood board; such as three 1-in x 2-in x 8-ft premium furring strips at $0.85 each, $2.55
- PVC shower pan liner; such as Oatey 60-in x 72-in PVC shower pan liner from Home Depot, $30
- 2½-in wood screws, quantity 16; $2
- 1½-in wood screws, quantity 20; $2
- wood glue; $3
- 4-in corner braces, quantity 2; such as Everbilt 2-pack from Home Depot, $2.87
- 2 x 2 x 7-in wood block; $1.50
- 4 alligator clips; such as Gardner Bender 22-14 AWG Barrel-Ins alligator clip 2-pack at $1.98 per pack, $4
- 4 x 5-in acrylic sheet; $2
- clear PVC tubing with 3/8-in inner diameter; $4.15
- Liquid Nails small projects and repairs adhesive, 4 oz; $2.78
- mini colorful cotton balls, four different colors; $1.49
- black pen or marker
- Building Instructions for Laparoscopic Surgical Trainer, one copy for teacher
- 34 cm long laparoscopic grasper (forceps) tool, quantity 2; purchase used online, $50 each
- 34 cm long laparoscopic scissors tool, quantity 1; such as Endopath endoscopic linear cutter, purchase used online, $49
- 2 cannulas; such as Disposable Inner Cannula size 8 from allegromedical.com, $5.55 each (see Figure 2)
- scalpel with disposable blades, $8
- pen-shaped USB digital microscope; such as example for $16.79
- laptop, or other portable PC capable of displaying video from the USB microscope camera
- 2 rubber bands, $4
- string, 2 ft, $2
|A surgical tube that is inserted into the body to provide a sealed conduit for surgical tools|
|Signifying outside the living body.|
|Signifying in a laboratory or controlled environment.|
|Signifying inside the living body.|
|Pressurizing or filling with air. The abdominal cavity is insufflated prior to surgery to create a space for the surgeon to work in.|
|A camera attached to a long, slender light pipe that allows a laparoscopic surgeon to view inside the abdominal cavity without invasive surgery.|
|Open surgery on the abdominal cavity (surgery through a large incision).|
|A joining of the edges of a wound by stitching.|
|A specialized surgical knife used for creating small incisions for the introduction of a surgical tool through the abdominal wall.|
- Follow the attached Building Instructions to build the laparoscopic surgical trainer, stretch and dissect block, and puffball holder.
- Into the finished laparoscopic surgical trainer (see Figure 3), cut a small hole in the shower pan liner to permit entry of the digital microscope camera. Place the camera towards the left or right side of the surgical trainer to leave the center of the shower pan liner available for access of the laparoscopic tools. Place the camera in the hole and ensure that it is stable.
- To prepare for Task 1: Cut rubber bands into strips that are approximately one inch in length. Prepare four strips per student or per group, depending on how many times the activity is performed. Draw a line using either a black pen or black marker approximately ¾-in to 3/8-in from one end each rubber band. Then clamp a rubber band piece in each alligator clip of the stretch and dissect block, as shown in see Figure 4.
- To prepare for Task 2: Gather eight puffballs of four different colors, so that you have two puffballs per color. Put one different color puffball into each tube (see Figure 4). Scatter the remaining four puffballs on the table behind the surgical trainer for students to find with the camera.
- To prepare for Task 3: Cut four pieces of string, each about 6-in long. Clamp one piece of string in each alligator clip of the stretch and dissect block.
- Place behind the surgical trainer the supplies for the tasks that are to be performed, so they are out of view of the students.
- (optional) Show students a 3:19-min video that demonstrates how laparoscopic surgery is performed; see the link provided in the Additional Multimedia Support section.
- Direct each student to use a scalpel blade to carefully cut two small incisions (in a location of his/her choice) in the lining of the surgical trainer just big enough for the laparoscopic tools, and then puncture the two cannulas through the two holes. The cannulas are used to stabilize and provide entry conduits for the surgical tools (see Figure 3).
- Insert laparoscopic tools through the cannula.
- Direct students to perform Tasks 1-3 using the laparoscopic tools and microscope camera. One student can manipulate the camera at different angles to improve viewing and one or two other students can operate the laparoscopic tools (see Figure 3). Time and record how long it takes to complete each task, keeping track of errors (see below).
- Task 1: Stretch and Dissect: Repeat the following steps until all rubber bands have been cut.
- Locate the stretch and dissect block with rubber band pieces in the clips.
- Using a laparoscopic grasper, grab one of the rubber bands and stretch it slightly.
- Using a laparoscopic cutter, cut along the black line of the rubber band.
- Using a laparoscopic grasper, remove the piece of rubber band from behind the surgical trainer.
- Task 2: Tissue Identification and Manipulation:
- Locate the puffball holder.
- Locate the colored puffballs outside of the holder.
- Using up to two laparoscopic graspers, put the puffballs in the tubes so two of the same color puffballs are in each tube.
- Task 3: Suturing:
- Locate the stretch and dissect block with strings in the clips.
- Using two laparoscopic graspers, grab two pieces of string and tie them together three times.
- Repeat for the next set of strings.
- Task Evaluation and Errors: After each task, assess how successful students were in performing the surgical procedures. Record the number of errors. Possible errors for each task include:
- Task 1: Not cutting along the black line. To be considered accurate (and successful), cut within 1 mm of the black line.
- Task 2: Matching the wrong colors in the tubes or not placing the puffballs into the holders.
- Task 3: Not tying knots successfully three times per pair of strings.
- Task Scoring: Score students on time and accuracy. For each error, add 30 seconds to the final time for that task. Announce the student(s) with the least amount of time as the "Surgeon(s) of the Day." (optional) Reward the winner(s) with a small prize such as credit to the school store, a free homework pass, candy, a new pen, etc.
- Handle scalpels with care since they are sharp blades with a high risk of accidental cutting.
- In what area of the body is laparoscopic surgery usually performed?
- Name three conditions that laparoscopic surgery is used to treat or diagnose.
- List five advantages and five disadvantages of laparoscopic surgery.
- Describe what the following tools are used for during surgery: cannula, trocar, laparoscope
- How many incisions are usually made when performing laparoscopic surgery?
- What gas is used to insufflate the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery?
- For lower grades, have the teacher cut the holes used for the tools and insert the tools for the students. Also eliminate Task 3 (suturing) due to its higher level of difficulty.
- For upper grades, give students a time limit to complete all of the tasks and record how many they were able to complete and number of errors. For each task successfully completed, students earn 10 points, and for each error, subtract 5 points.
Additional Multimedia Support
Benjamin S. Terry, Brandi N. Briggs, Stephanie Rivale, Denise W. Carlson
© 2011 by Regents of the University of Colorado.
Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
Last modified: February 4, 2016