Grade Level: 5 (3-5)
Choose From: 10 lessons and 14 activities
Subject Areas: Biology
SummaryThis 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. The engineering challenges that arise because of these discrepancies are also discussed. Then, students dive into the different components that make up the human body: muscles, bones and joints, the digestive and circulatory systems, the nervous and endocrine systems, the urinary system, the respiratory system, and finally the immune system. Students learn about the different types of muscles in the human body and the effects of microgravity on muscles. Also, they learn about the skeleton, the number of and types of bones in the body, and how outer space affects astronauts' bones. In the lessons on the digestive, circulatory, nervous and endocrine systems, students learn how these vital system work and the challenges faced by astronauts whose systems are impacted by spaceflight. And lastly, advances in engineering technology are discussed through the lessons on the urinary, respiratory and immune systems while students learn how these systems work with all the other body components to help keep the human body healthy.
Engineers, particularly biomedical engineers, need to understand how our body systems work in order to help take care of our bodies on Earth and in space. The human body has many examples of joints, which engineers can mimic when designing machines. Specifically, in thinking about our skeleton while not on Earth, biomedical engineers who work at NASA are especially interested in how outer space affects astronauts' bones. And, aerospace engineers need to understand the immune system and how it is affected in space in order to prepare for longer missions (while astronauts are further away from the medical resources on Earth).
Furthermore, engineers continue to help protect the human heart by developing technological devices to repair it, such as artificial heart valves to replace faulty valves. Artificial hearts were developed by engineers to keep hospitalized patients alive while they are waiting for a heart transplant. What about our brains? Engineers develop better ways to save the brain from trauma and disease. They develop surgical and imaging equipment, as well as brain-saving devices, such as bicycle and motorcycle helmets. And for the visually impaired, engineers create sight devices from glasses to advanced sight tools (including a light sensor imbedded into the back of the eye) for people who cannot see at all or have difficulty seeing. Biomedical engineers create devices to aid people who have lost or are lacking full hearing capabilities. Engineers are also working on a drug that can keep astronauts from getting space-motion sickness, which is caused by conflicting sensory inputs.
Other life-saving measures are undertaken by chemical engineers, who study the immune system in order to develop treatments for people with compromised immunity, and vaccinations, antibiotics, disinfectants, and sterilizers are designed by engineers in order to help keep people healthy. Additionally, environmental engineers work on keeping the air we breathe and the water we drink free of toxins via air purifiers and water filters.
Clearly, engineers play a huge part in keeping the human body safe and healthy, both on Earth and in space.
(optional: Show students the What Is Engineering? video)
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.
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.
TThe 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.
- Spaced Out lesson, Move Your Muscles! lesson
- Walk, Run, Jump! activity
- Muscles, Muscles Everywhere activity
- Our Amazing Skeleton lesson
- Fascinating Friction! activity
- Digestive System lesson
- Design Devices to Help Astronauts Eat: Lunch in Outer Space! activity
- The Heart of the Matter lesson
- Blood Cell Basics activity
- The Beat Goes On activity
- Nerve Racking lesson
- 20/20 Vision activity
- Sound Line activity
- Engineering a Mountain Rescue Litter activity
- Unlocking the Endocrine System lesson
- Endocrine Excitement! activity
- Just Passing Through lesson and Kidney Filtering activity
- Out of Breath lesson
- Creating Model Working Lungs: Just Breathe activity
- Fighting Back! lesson
- Hot or Not activity
More Curriculum Like This
This lesson covers the topic of human bones and joints. Students learn about the skeleton, the number of and types of bones in the body, and how outer space affects astronauts' bones. Students also learn how to take care of their bones here on Earth to prevent osteoporosis ─ or weakening of the bone...
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.
Students learn about the major components and functions of the immune system and the role engineers play in keeping the body healthy through the design of medical care such as vaccinations and antibiotics. They also learn how an astronaut's immune system is suppressed during spaceflight due to stres...
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.
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Supporting ProgramIntegrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
The contents of these digital library curricula were developed under grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant no. 0338326). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the U.S. Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: October 16, 2021