After learning, comparing and contrasting the steps of the engineering design process (EDP) and scientific method, students review the human skeletal system, including the major bones, bone types, bone functions and bone tissues, as well as other details about bone composition. Students then pair-read an article about bones and bone growth and compile their notes to summarize the article. Finally, students complete a homework assignment to review the major bones in the human body, preparing them for the associated activities in which they create and test prototype replacement bones with appropriate densities. Two PowerPoint(TM) presentations, pre-/post-test, handout and worksheet are provided.
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After completing the associated lesson and its first associated activity, students are familiar with the 20 major bones in the human body knowing their locations and relative densities. When those bones break, lose their densities or are destroyed, we look to biomedical engineers to provide replacements. In this activity, student pairs are challenged to choose materials and create prototypes that could replace specific bones. They follow the steps of the engineering design process, researching, brainstorming, prototyping and testing to find bone replacement solutions. Specifically, they focus on identifying substances that when combined into a creative design might provide the same density (and thus strength and support) as their natural counterparts. After iterations to improve their designs, they present their bone alternative solutions to the rest of the class. They refer to the measured and calculated densities for fabricated human bones calculated in the previous activity, and conduct Internet research to learn the densities of given fabrication materials (or measure/calculate those densities if not found online).
Students review what they know about the 20 major bones in the human body (names, shapes, functions, locations, as learned in the associated lesson) and the concept of density (mass per unit of volume). Then student pairs calculate the densities for different bones from a disarticulated human skeleton model of fabricated bones, making measurements via triple-beam balance (for mass) and water displacement (for volume). All groups share their results with the class in order to collectively determine the densities for every major bone in the body. This activity prepares students for the next activity, "Can It Support You? No Bones about It," during which they act as biomedical engineers and design artificial bones, which requires them to find materials of suitable density to perform as human body implants.