Vital Signs

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This activity (on pages 16-23) lets learners measure each other's vital signs—the signs that help doctors understand what's going on in a patient body. Learners measure human body temperature, respiration rate, and pulse, and compare them to vital signs of other mammals large and small, such as a cow and a rabbit. A "think it over" writing exercise finishes the activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • thermometer strips
  • clock or watch for timing seconds
  • pencil
  • Optional: 2 pinches of modeling clay (marble-size)
  • Optional: 2 toothpicks


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Human Body
      • Muscles and Skin
      • Circulation
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Medicine
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Touch
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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

Designed specifically for

  • Rural dweller

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • University of Nebraska State Museum; Nebraska Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development

Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, University of Nebraska State Museum, 2002

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation Informal Science Education Program, 9909496
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute