Unit Aging Heart Valves

A female doctor listens to the heart of a male patient.
Understanding the heart, and knowing what to listen for in diagnosing heart conditions, is critical for providing life-saving patient care.
Copyright © Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/other_conditions.htm


In this unit, students learn about the form and function of the human heart through lecture, research and dissection. Following the steps of the Legacy Cycle, students brainstorm, research, design and present viable solutions to various heart conditions as presented through a unit challenge. Additionally, students study how heart valves work and investigate how faulty valves can be replaced with new ones through advancements in engineering and technology. This unit demonstrates to students how and why the heart is such a powerful organ in our bodies.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

When engineers design solutions to problems, they first gather information—background information about the system they are working with, testing and analysis data that they collect from various materials, and information from experts more familiar with the subject. To design medical devices, technologies and procedures, biomedical engineers must understand how the human body functions, as well as how disease and disorders affect the body. In addition to knowledge gained through education and experience, engineers use problem-solving skills every step of the way in designing devices, tools, products, structures and processes that improve our society.

Unit Overview

Challenge Question

Your grandmother, who has been a non-smoker and relatively healthy throughout her life, has recently noticed that she is becoming increasingly short of breath as she does simple things, such as climbing the steps in her house. She has also noticed that her heart rate increases when she does mild exercise, such as walking to the mailbox or going upstairs. What could be causing this? Is it just due to her getting older? Is there reason to be concerned? What can be done to help her?

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.


Get the inside scoop on all things TeachEngineering such as new site features, curriculum updates, video releases, and more by signing up for our newsletter!
PS: We do not share personal information or emails with anyone.

Unit Schedule

More Curriculum Like This

High School Lesson
Heart to Heart

Students learn about the form and function of the human heart through lecture, research and dissection. They brainstorm ideas that pertain to various heart conditions and organize these ideas into categories that help them research possible solutions.

High School Lesson
Blood Pressure Basics

Students study how heart valves work and investigate how valves that become faulty over time can be replaced with advancements in engineering and technology. Learning about the flow of blood through the heart, students are able to fully understand how and why the heart is such a powerful organ in ou...

Middle School Lesson
Put Your Heart into Engineering

Students learn all about the body's essential mighty organ, the heart, as well as the powerful blood vascular system. This includes information on the many different sizes and pervasiveness of capillaries, veins and arteries, and how they affect blood flow through the system. Then students focus on ...

High School Lesson
What Do I Need to Know about Heart Valves?

Students are presented with the unit's grand challenge problem: You are the lead engineer for a biomaterials company that has a cardiovascular systems client who wants you to develop a model that can be used to test the properties of heart valves without using real specimens.


© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2011 Vanderbilt University


Michael Duplessis; Janet Yowell; Carleigh Samson; Victoria Lanaghan

Supporting Program

VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University


The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under National Science Foundation RET grant nos. 0338092 and 0742871. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the NSF, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: July 20, 2017

Free K-12 standards-aligned STEM curriculum for educators everywhere.
Find more at TeachEngineering.org