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Teaching Basic Cardio Vascular Mechanics With Lego Models: A High School Case Study

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Assessing Perceptions of Engineers and Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1199.1 - 11.1199.15



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Paper Authors


Reginald Hobbs Tufts University

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Reginald is currently a graduate student at Tufts University in a M.S./Ph.D. program in Science Education. He previously earned his M. Ed. in Secondary Education from Harvard University and his B.A. in Biology from Carleton College. Reginald is also currently a research assistant at TERC where he is involved in looking at improving the performance of historically under-achieving groups in the field of science.

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Nataliia Perova Tufts University

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Nataliia is currently a graduate students at Tufts University majoring in Mathematics, Science, Technology and Engineering education. She previously earned her M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University in 2005 and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Suffolk University. Nataliia is currently a research assistant at the Center for Engineering Outreach where she is involved in using engineering approaches to teach high school students science and mathematics.

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Igor Verner Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

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Igor M. Verner received the M.S. degree in Mathematics from the Urals State
University and the Ph.D. in computer aided design systems in manufacturing from
the Urals Technical University, Ekaterinburg, Russia. He is a Senior Lecturer
and a coordinator of teacher-training programs at the Department of Education
in Technology and Science, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His
research interests include learning through designing building and operating
robots, and education design experiments.

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Chris Rogers Tufts University

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Chris got his PhD, M.S. and B.S. at Stanford University. He is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University and Director of the Center for Engineering Outreach. His research interests include: particle-laden flows, telerobotics and controls, slurry flows in chemical-mechanical planarization, the engineering of musical instruments, measuring flame shapes of couch fires, and in elementary school engineering education. He has a strong commitment to teaching and was awarded the Carnegie Professor of the Year in Massachusetts in 1998. He has worked with LEGO to develop ROBOLAB, a robotic approach to learning science and math.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Basic Cardio-Vascular Mechanics With LEGO Models: A High School Case Study


This interdisciplinary instructional unit will teach participants the basics of the cardio-vascular system through fluid mechanics. It will explore the human circulatory system, while involving the concept of pressure. Students will explore the cardio-vascular system through both computer simulation and hands on modeling activities using a LEGO pneumatics construction kit and modifying it for desired outcomes. The LEGO pneumatics model serves as an instructional tool for high school students in their study of the cardio-vascular system. This model is used to explain different components of the system and the effect of blood flow through the heart. One of the ways to analyze the workings of the system is through the readings offered by the pressure sensors. Students can interpret the data in real time using Vernier probes and software. Graphic interpretations will demonstrate relationships between the various components of the system and help students to develop scientific thinking through analysis of physical phenomena. The success of the unit will be measured by looking at the experiences of students with the material and their interest in the field of engineering. Pre and post written questionnaires and observations were used to determine how this module impacted students’ engagement, motivation, and interest in the cardio-vascular system, engineering, and physics. The following paper accounts and demonstrates the positive impact teaching science through an interdisciplinary approach involving the engineering design process has on students, motivation, engagement, and interest.


Currently in most high schools physics, anatomy, and engineering are taught as three separate classes. Three years of science is required for graduation from most public high schools, while most college bound students take four full years of science.1 Engineering courses are offered, but in most high schools are not required for graduation.

The state of Massachusetts in their educational frameworks currently requires the teaching of the concept of pressure in any introductory engineering course, specifically in a unit involving energy and power technology. The cardio-vascular system according to state frameworks is taught in grades 6-8: Identify the general functions of the major systems of the human body (digestion, respiration, reproduction, circulation, excretion, protection from disease, and movement, control, and coordination) and describe ways that these systems interact with each other2 and in grades 9-10 with vertebrate anatomy and physiology: explain generally how the circulatory system (heart, arteries, veins, capillaries, blood) transports nutrients and oxygen to cells and removes cell waste.3

Hobbs, R., & Perova, N., & Verner, I., & Rogers, C. (2006, June), Teaching Basic Cardio Vascular Mechanics With Lego Models: A High School Case Study Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1135

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