+
upworthy
Science

Engineering students created a life-size 'Operation' game—with a fun twist on the fail buzzer

The game trades in tweezers for tongs and the anxiety-producing buzzer for an audio meme.

engineering, operation, medicine, anatomy

Students at Washington State University created a life-size Operation game.

Anyone who has ever played the game Operation likely feels a teensy bit of anxiety just thinking about it. The experience of painstakingly trying to extract the Charlie Horse with those tiny, wired tweezers with a steady hand, only to accidentally touch the metal side and get the lightning-like jolt of the buzzer is hard to shake. That's the stuff of core memories right there.

But what if you had a humongous game board the size of a real human, with life-size bones and organs to extract? What if instead of tweezers, you had large tongs as tools to perform your operation? What if instead of Pavlovian-style fail buzzers, the game produced a much less traumatic womp womp womp sound when you mess up?


That's exactly what students in Washington State University’s chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) spent the past two years designing and producing—a life-size Operation game that's not only fun to play, but can help kids learn about the human body.

Students took on the project after Pullman Regional Hospital’s Center for Learning and Innovation approached WSU engineering professor Roland Chen about the idea. Chen took the concept to his senior-level design class and they created an initial plan, which was then passed on to the engineering club.

operation game; bones

3D cut outs of bones

Courtesy of Washington State University

WSU senior Joel Villanueva, who served as a team leader on the project, tells Upworthy that approximately 15 students were involved in the game's creation over the two years it took to complete it. The project was quite complex as it involved translating the computer-aided design to a real table, creating multiple prototypes, figuring out the right level of challenge and making sure it was safe for kids to use.

In terms of gameplay, Villanueva says it's very similar to the original board game, but obviously much larger and with a few key differences. "We have tongs that aren't connected to wires, which was a safety concern, so we found a way to increase that safety factor," he says. "And it also has sound. So when it's triggered, a red light is emitted and an error sound is also emitted."

operation game, human body

The life-size version of Operation uses tongs instead of tweezers.

Courtesy of Washington State University

Villanueva says they didn't want the fail signal to be too alarming, which makes sense since the game was made for kids at the local science center. So instead of the buzzing of the original game, touching the sides of the organ or bone opening results in a sad trombone sound—womp womp womp wommmp.

The game is officially referred to as the Surgery Skill Lab and is now a part of the EveryBODY exhibit at the Palouse Discovery Science Center (PDSC) in Pullman, Washington. It's ultimately a learning tool, and Villanueva says they put the bones and organs in their appropriate locations in the body to help kids learn about human anatomy.

"We worked with the BMES [Biomedical Engineering Society] student section who created some fact sheets about the project," adds Villanueva. "For example, 'The heart pumps this much blood at a given time'—small fun facts like that."

The bones were 3D printed, then coated with silicone (so the tongs can grip them), and the soft organs were molded out of silicone using 3D-printed molds.

operation game, engineering, washington state university

Pictured left to right at the Palouse Discovery Science Center: Kevin Dalbosco Dal Forno, Silas Peters, Roland Chen, Connor Chase, Ryan Cole, Becky Highfill, and Joel Villanueva

Courtesy of Joel Villanueva

The game was unveiled at a Family Night event at the PDSC on January 19, so Villanueva and his team got to see how it was received.

"It was an eye-catcher," says Villanueva. "There were many kids playing with it and it seemed like they were having lots of fun with it."

Jess Jones, who is part of the education team at PDSC, tells Upworthy that there was also a real doctor at the exhibit during the opening to talk with kids about medicine. She says the game has been a hit with kids so far.

"They're loving it," she says. "The organs are 3D printed so they feel kind of realistic. The kids are loving the texture."

brain, operation game

The life-size 3D-printed brain kids can remove in the Surgery Skill Lab.

Courtesy of Washington State University

The project is a win-win for both the university students and the local community. The students got to put their engineering skills into practice using various software and technologies and also gained valuable life skills such as time management, documentation, leadership and more. And the community gained a fun and educational exhibit both kids and nostalgic adults can enjoy.

Three cheers for innovation and collaboration that helps us all learn. (And good riddance, stress-inducing buzzer.)

Identity

Celebrate International Women's Day with these stunning photos of female leaders changing the world

The portraits, taken by acclaimed photographer Nigel Barker, are part of CARE's "She Leads the World" campaign.

Images provided by CARE

Kadiatu (left), Zainab (right)

True

Women are breaking down barriers every day. They are transforming the world into a more equitable place with every scientific discovery, athletic feat, social justice reform, artistic endeavor, leadership role, and community outreach project.

And while these breakthroughs are happening all the time, International Women’s Day (Mar 8) is when we can all take time to acknowledge the collective progress, and celebrate how “She Leads the World.

This year, CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization dedicated to empowering women and girls, is celebrating International Women’s Day through the power of portraiture. CARE partnered with high-profile photographer Nigel Barker, best known for his work on “America’s Next Top Model,” to capture breathtaking images of seven remarkable women who have prevailed over countless obstacles to become leaders within their communities.

“Mabinty, Isatu, Adama, and Kadiatu represent so many women around the world overcoming incredible obstacles to lead their communities,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA.

Barker’s bold portraits, as part of CARE’s “She Leads The World” campaign, not only elevate each woman’s story, but also shine a spotlight on how CARE programs helped them get to where they are today.

About the women:

Mabinty

international womens day, care.org

Mabinty is a businesswoman and a member of a CARE savings circle along with a group of other women. She buys and sells groundnuts, rice, and fuel. She and her husband have created such a successful enterprise that Mabinty volunteers her time as a teacher in the local school. She was the first woman to teach there, prompting a second woman to do so. Her fellow teachers and students look up to Mabinty as the leader and educator she is.

Kadiatu

international womens day, care.org

Kadiatu supports herself through a small business selling food. She also volunteers at a health clinic in the neighboring village where she is a nursing student. She tests for malaria, works with infants, and joins her fellow staff in dancing and singing with the women who visit the clinic. She aspires to become a full-time nurse so she can treat and cure people. Today, she leads by example and with ambition.

Isatu

international womens day, care.org

When Isatu was three months pregnant, her husband left her, seeking his fortune in the gold mines. Now Isatu makes her own way, buying and selling food to support her four children. It is a struggle, but Isatu is determined to be a part of her community and a provider for her kids. A single mother of four is nothing if not a leader.

Zainab

international womens day, care.org

Zainab is the Nurse in Charge at the Maternal Child Health Outpost in her community. She is the only nurse in the surrounding area, and so she is responsible for the pre-natal health of the community’s mothers-to-be and for the safe delivery of their babies. In a country with one of the world’s worst maternal death rates, Zainab has not lost a single mother. The community rallies around Zainab and the work she does. She describes the women who visit the clinic as sisters. That feeling is clearly mutual.

Adama

international womens day, care.org

Adama is something few women are - a kehkeh driver. A kehkeh is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi, known elsewhere as a tuktuk. Working in the Kissy neighborhood of Freetown, Adama is the primary breadwinner for her family, including her son. She keeps her riders safe in other ways, too, by selling condoms. With HIV threatening to increase its spread, this is a vital service to the community.

Ya Yaebo

international womens day, care.org

“Ya” is a term of respect for older, accomplished women. Ya Yaebo has earned that title as head of her local farmers group. But there is much more than that. She started as a Village Savings and Loan Association member and began putting money into her business. There is the groundnut farm, her team buys and sells rice, and own their own oil processing machine. They even supply seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture. She has used her success to the benefit of people in need in her community and is a vocal advocate for educating girls, not having gone beyond grade seven herself.

On Monday, March 4, CARE will host an exhibition of photography in New York City featuring these portraits, kicking off the multi-day “She Leads the World Campaign.

Learn more, view the portraits, and join CARE’s International Women's Day "She Leads the World" celebration at CARE.org/sheleads.


Health

Over or under? Surprisingly, there actually is a 'correct' way to hang a toilet paper roll.

Let's settle this silly-but-surprisingly-heated debate once and for all.

Elya/Wikimedia Commons

Should you hang the toilet paper roll over or under?


Humans have debated things large and small over the millennia, from the democracy to breastfeeding in public to how often people ought to wash their sheets.

But perhaps the most silly-yet-surprisingly-heated household debate is the one in which we argue over which way to hang the toilet paper roll.

The "over or under" question has plagued marriages and casual acquaintances alike for over 100 years, with both sides convinced they have the soundest reasoning for putting their toilet paper loose end out or loose end under. Some people feel so strongly about right vs. wrong TP hanging that they will even flip the roll over when they go to the bathroom in the homes of strangers.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not merely an inconsequential preference. There is actually a "correct" way to hang toilet paper, according to health experts as well as the man who invented the toilet paper roll in the first place.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Video of husband realizing his wife's stocking went unfilled for 10 years has moms talking

What was meant as a joke felt all too real to moms responsible for creating holiday magic.

@whataboutaub/TikTok

It took ten years for a husband to realize his wife received and empty stocking every year

Back in 2021, wife and mom Aubree Jones posted a video to her TikTok that she thought would provide a relatable chuckle among other moms.

Instead, other moms found it heartbreaking.

In the clip, titled “PSA for husbands everywhere,” Aubree’s husband, Josh, is filming their family unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. He goes around to each of the family members’ stockings, until he comes upon an empty one.

“Whose is this?” Josh asks. “Is this an extra one?”

Aubree answers, “No, that’s mine,” with a smile.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Psychologist explains why everyone feels exhausted right now and it makes so much sense

Psychologist Naomi Holdt beautifully explained what's behind the overarching exhaustion people are feeling and it makes perfect sense.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

It seems like most people are feeling wiped out these days. There's a reason for that.

We're about to wrap up year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's been a weird ride, to say the least. These years have been hard, frustrating, confusing and tragic, and yet we keep on keeping on.

Except the keeping on part isn't quite as simple as it sounds. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc, we've sort of collectively decided to move on, come what may. This year has been an experiment in normalcy, but one without a testable hypothesis or clear design. And it's taken a toll. So many people are feeling tired, exhausted, worn thin ("like butter scraped over too much bread," as Bilbo Baggins put it) these days.

But why?

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

The Gen X 'stay at home mom' crisis is real, but what's the solution?

Some moms in their 40s feel like they were lied to about what their "resume gap" would mean.

40-something moms who stayed home to be with their kids are finding themselves in uncharted waters.

A few generations ago, parents had pretty clearly defined roles, with the dad generally being the breadwinner and the mom being the homemaker/stay-at-home mother. Then women's rights movement came along, empowering women in the workplace, ushering in the era of two working parents and producing an entire generation of "latchkey kids."

Now those Gen X latchkey kids are parenting Gen Z, with the pendulum of working motherhood having swung somewhat to the middle. We were raised to believe we could be anything we dreamed of being and that we didn't have to choose between being a mom and having a career. Gen X also became mothers during the heyday of parenting self-help books that impressed upon us the importance of attachment and hands-on childrearing, as well as the era of super-scheduled kids, whose activities alone require a full-time manager.

As a result, those of us in our 40s have raised our kids straddling two worlds—the one where women can have all of the career success we desire and the one where we can choose to be stay-at-home moms who do all the things. At first, we were told we could have it all, but when the impossibility of that became clear, we were told, "Well, you can have it all, just not at the same time."

But as many moms are finding as their kids start leaving the nest, even that isn't the full truth.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo of Aristotle by Michael Paraskevas|Wikimedia Commons/Little girl and dog by Amine|Canva

Little girl has perfect philosophical answer on people living longer than dogs

People always say that humans don't deserve dogs. When we welcome these four-legged fur balls in our lives we're usually met with infinite tail wags and doggy kisses. It seems like they never experience a bad day, even when they may have been sent to time out for eating a hole in the linoleum floor. As soon as you greet them, they're still happy to see you, no matter what.

Mihira Guha, also known as Mia, is a little girl that looks to be around five years old and has got dogs figured out. Recently, her mom uploaded a video to social media of Mia explaining why she thinks humans live longer than dogs. It was deeply profound for a little one that young and it came down to dogs and their innate happiness.

The little girl is sitting on her bed playing with plastic pieces that connect in multiple ways when she shocks her mom and the rest of the internet with her reasoning about the lifespan of dogs.

Keep ReadingShow less

A rotisserie chiekcn becomes shredded chicken.

In a world where grocery prices are still sky-high, one deal that you can get at just about any grocery store is a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. In some places, you can get one for as low as $4.99 and they have enough meat on ‘em to feed a small family (with some sides, of course).

The trick to getting the most out of your reasonably priced chicken is ensuring no meat is left on the bone. That’s where a TikTokker named Katie R. comes in. She recently shared an easy technique that’ll help you remove all the meat from the bone, and the video was clearly a big help; it's received over 6.8 million views.

Keep ReadingShow less