Heart of the Matter

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In this activity, learners explore the concept of valve operation and how engineers have adapted valves for use in mechanical heart valve design. Learners read about several different valves used at home and in industry, and three different mechanical heart valve designs. Learners then examine and operate both a ball valve and a gate valve. Finally, learners work as a team of "engineers" to develop and sketch enhancements to the mechanical heart valve.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • One ball valve (1/4 turn valves show the turning ball)
  • Two 12-18 inch lengths of 3/4 inch galvanized pipe
  • 3/4 inch gate valve
  • Two 3/4 inch hose caps
  • One 3/4 head plug
  • Water source and place to allow water to flow (sink, or outdoors)
  • Funnel for pouring water into pipe


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Medical Technology
      • Agriculture and Biotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Circulation
      • Medicine
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, IEEE,