Brief Description:  Students will be introduced to the concept of biomedical engineering and design a solution for dogs that have non-functional back legs.

Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Time: 1 hour

Keywords: biomedical engineering, prosthetics, pharmaceuticals, user-centered design

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will learn about the different ways that biomedical engineering can help people/patients
  • Students will design a solution for dogs with non-functioning back legs.


  • Stuffed dogs from the CEEO
  • Cardboard
  • Wheels
  • Styrofoam
  • Paper
  • Boxes
  • Rubber bands
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Yarn
  • Legos
  • Mini NXT kits


  1. Introduce biomedical engineering.
    1. Biomedical engineering uses many different types of engineering techniques in the medical field. Its applications include the development of diagnostic equipment, therapeutic devices, pharmaceutical drugs and artificial limbs (prosthetics).
  2. Biomedical engineering can be useful for both humans and animals. A litter of puppies was recently born with non-functional back legs. Students are tasked to design and build something that can help these dogs get around (prosthetics or wheelchairs).
  3. Explain user-centered design, the idea that the client (in this case the dog and its owner) must be taken into account when designing a solution. What would they want?
    1. Explain that their solution must be able to get their dog from one place to another
    2. It should be comfortable for the dog to wear (this will make the dog happy)
    3. It should be easy to take on and off (this will make it easier for the owner)
    4. What else should we consider when designing something for a client?
  4. Allow students to design and build their prosthetics and/or wheelchairs.
  5. Allow students to present their designs. Did they add any special features?
  6. Wrap up: Discuss what challenges students faced in this activity. What worked? What did not work?

Extensions and Modifications

  • Coordinate with the Vet school to bring a real dog into the classroom.


Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

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