Curricular Unit: Biomedical Engineering and the Human Body

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

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;; Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention;; Walther Thill, US Department of Veteran's Administration;; Jim Gathany, US Department of Health and Human Services;; President's DNA Initiative, US Department of Justice


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 meets 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.

More Curriculum Like This

The Heart of the Matter

This lesson describes how the circulatory system works, including the heart, blood vessels and blood. Students learn about the chambers and valves of the heart, the difference between veins and arteries, and the different components of blood.

Elementary Lesson
Digestive System

This lesson introduces students to the main parts of the digestive system and how they interact. In addition, students learn about some of the challenges astronauts face when eating in outer space. Engineers figure out how to deal with such challenges.

Elementary Lesson
Engineering and the Human Body

This unit covers the broad spectrum of topics that make-up our very amazing human body. Students are introduced to the space environment and learn the major differences between the environment on Earth and that of outer space. Students dive into the different components that make up the human body: ...

Nerve Racking

Students learn about the function and components of the human nervous system, which helps them understand the purpose of our brains, spinal cords, nerves and five senses. In addition, how the nervous system is affected during spaceflight is also discussed.

Elementary Lesson

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 (

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.

  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
Suggest an alignment not listed above

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.

Unit Schedule


See individual lessons and activities.


© 2007 by Regents of the University of Colorado

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: December 12, 2017