STEM: Doodled Animal Prosthetics

Time Required: One-two 50-minute sessions
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Grades: 6th to 8th

Doodle Doctor, STAT!

In this bioengineering and design activity, students will work in pairs to design and doodle a prototype for an animal prosthesis that meets the constraints of a simulated design problem.

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Lesson Plan



1) Print out copies of the Doodle Doctors Worksheet.

2) Read and discuss this PBS article on animal prosthetics.

3) Discuss the terms "bioengineer" and "prosthetic."

Step 2

Share the goal: Students will take part in a design simulation playing the parts of bioengineers, designing a prototype of a prosthetic part for a selected patient from the Doodle Doctors Worksheet.

Step 3

Review the Doodle Doctors Worksheet and the 4 different patients. Discuss the importance of researching the animal and the purpose/function of its limb. What are the design constraints for this patient? (Possible responses: size/weight of animal, harsh living conditions, utility of part, etc.)

Step 4

Assign students a partner or have them work in trios. Allow students to select a patient with their partner(s). Give them time to research and fill in the design problem and design constraints on the worksheet.

Step 5

Instruct each student to sketch a design that meets the design needs and constraints. Following this, have students select one design that the group determines best fulfills the needs and constraints of the design problem.

Step 6

Hand out 3Doodlers and circle to assist and guide as students work together.

Step 7

Instruct students to create a scripted presentation to explain their prototype and how it could be used to build a working model of a prosthetic for their patient. Refer to the prompts on the second page of the Doodle Doctors Worksheet.

Wrap Up

Students will share their 3Doodler prosthetics as a presentation with the class, as well as on Twitter. @3Doodler #3DoodlerEDU


The teacher will assess students' work throughout the process, as well as by students' doodled prototypes and scripted presentations.

Possible Extensions

Students will return to optimize their design solutions, developing tests for identifying the characteristics of the design that perform best and which elements of the design need improvement. Students will incorporate the data from their tests into new designs that offer promising solutions by modifying the original design on the basis of their test results.


  • adaptations - any alteration in the structure or function of an organism or any of its parts that results from natural selection and by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive and multiply in its environment.

  • animals - any member of the kingdom Animalia, comprising multicellular organisms that have a well-defined shape and usually limited growth, can move voluntarily, actively acquire food and digest it internally, and have sensory and nervous systems that allow them to respond rapidly to stimuli.

  • bioengineering - also called biomedical engineering. the application of engineering principles and techniques to problems in medicine and biology, as the design and production of artificial limbs and organs.

  • collaboration - to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.

  • creative thinking - a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh and imaginative perspective.

  • design - to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans (for a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of an object, building, bridge, etc...

  • engineering - the art or science of making practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences, as physics or chemistry, as in the construction of engines, bridges, buildings, mines, ships, and chemical plants.

  • problem-solving - the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.

  • prosthetics - the branch of surgery that deals with the replacement of missing parts with artificial structures.

  • STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, considered as a group of academic or career fields.

Educational Standards

Common Core

Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.

In This Lesson

Students will research the animal they will be creating the prosthetic model for, and use various references to draft a functional prosthetic model that fits the relevant design constraints.

Common Core

Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

In This Lesson

Students will gather information from at least 3 different sources using digital and printed references. Instruct students to paraphrase so as to avoid avoid plagiarism.

Next Gen Science

Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

In This Lesson

Students will define the criteria and constraints of a design problem, as well as the natural limitations of an environment in order to design a prosthetic part for an animal.

Next Gen Science

Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

In This Lesson

Students will develop an effective design for a prosthetic part for an injured animal, using the 3Doodler to create a prototype.

Next Gen Science

Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

In This Lesson

Students will evaluate the designs of group members and select the one that best meets the criteria and constraints of the problem.

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