STEM Activity: Heart Racer

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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Heart Racer

Race against the clock while increasing your heart rate and discover how an important heart-saving medical device functions.

Materials Needed

  • Balloon
  • Clay
  • Coin battery
  • LED
  • Tape
  • Stopwatch, timer or smartphone

At-Home Instructions

  • Locate a miniature two-legged LED and remove the bulb from the base to expose the wires.
  • Set a timer for 3 minutes. Before time runs out, perform the following procedure:
  1. Power the LED by placing one wire on one side of a coin battery and the other wire on the other side of the battery.
  2. Tape the LED to the battery securely.
  3. Sculpt a “patient” figure out of clay.
  4. Insert the lit LED into the patient and place him/her in the recovery room (such as a cup or toy bed).
  5. Run in place for 20 seconds to get the heart pumping.
  6. After running in place, inflate a balloon to represent a healthy heart.

For an extra challenge, try performing the procedure even faster. Challenge a friend to see how many patients you can each help in 2 minutes.

Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!

Split your students into teams and in 5-minute increments, see how many patients each group is able to help by working together. Once a balloon is completely inflated, consider this one patient helped. After each 5-minute round, give teams a chance to discuss ways they can be more effective in how they treat the clay figures in their care.   

What are we learning?

The heart is an organ responsible for pumping blood to all parts of the body. Hearts rely on electrical messages to keep their beat and sometimes need a little help to keep going. National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Al Langer co-invented the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is a device that can be placed in the body of a person who has heart trouble so that it will electrically trigger the heart to start beating if it stops. In this activity, the LED represents Langer’s ICD powered by a battery, and the deflated balloon represents the patient’s heart, which is not working at full capacity. Once the ICD is inserted into the patient, the heart can function normally and start pumping again!

Looking for more STEM activities?

Discover more fun and educational science activities by visiting our blog or by visiting our Camp Invention® Facebook page!

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