Unit Biomedical Engineering and the Human Body

Five images: man blowing into a spirometer, assorted pills and tablets, man taking a step with his artificial leg, black and white sonogram shows shape of fetus, drawing of DNA double helix.
Engineers are increasingly involved in design for the human body.
Copyright © (left to right) Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/1142.htm; Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention; http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/images/VariousPills.jpg; Walther Thill, US Department of Veteran's Administration; https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhvPortal/anonymous.portal?_nfpb=true&_nfto=false&_pageLabel=spotlightArchive&contentPage=spotlight/spotlight_prosthetics.html; Jim Gathany, US Department of Health and Human Services; http://phil.cdc.gov/PHIL_Images/04182000/00005/Ultrasound_lores.jpg; President's DNA Initiative, US Department of Justice http://www.dna.gov/training/evidence/


Human beings are fascinating and complex living organisms—a symphony of different functional systems working in concert. Through a 10-lesson series with hands-on activities students are introduced to seven systems of the human body—skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, sensory, and reproductive—as well as genetics. At every stage, they are also introduced to engineers' creative, real-world involvement in caring for the human body.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers are increasingly involved in design for the human body. Biomedical engineers create artificial limbs using materials and sensors to replicate natural function and movement. Understanding the muscular system enables engineers to design everyday tools, appliances and products. Other engineers design medical solutions to improve health and address disorders. This may take the form of devices, implants, machines, medicines and technologies (diagnostic equipment, pacemakers, surgical techniques, hearing aids, laser eye surgery, ultrasound, amniocentesis, in-vitro fertilization, pain medicine). Engineers also apply their understanding of DNA to numerous real-world applications. As part of their design work, engineers create flow charts, prototypes and models, and make technical presentations, to learn, test and communicate their work.

Unit Overview

Overview of topics by lesson: 1) skeletal system, 2) muscular system, 3) circulatory system, 4) respiratory system, 5) digestive system, 6) auditory-hearing sensory system, 7) vision sensory system, 8) reproductive system, 9) genetics, and 10) skeletal system.

Educational Standards

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 Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

See individual lessons and activities for standards alignment.


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Unit Schedule

The following schedule provides a suggested order of the lessons and activities. However, you may choose to only teach some of the activities – as your time and priorities permit.

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Students discuss several human reproductive technologies available today — pregnancy ultrasound, amniocentesis, in-vitro fertilization and labor anesthetics. They learn how each technology works, and that these are ways engineers have worked to improve the health of expecting mothers and babies.

Other Related Information

Optional: Show students the What Is Engineering? video)


© 2007 by Regents of the University of Colorado


See individual lessons and activities.

Supporting Program

Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder


This digital library content was developed by the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: April 12, 2020

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