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What Do You Know About the Heart? (assessments)

What Do You Know About the Heart? (assessments)

© Lucian Milasan.

  • Grades:
  • Length: Variable


To gauge their understanding of the heart and circulatory system, students take a pre-assessment, which will be revisited during post-assessment. They also create group concept maps.

This activity is from The Science of the Heart and Circulation Teacher's Guide, and was designed for students in grades 6–8. Lessons from the guide may be used with other grade levels as deemed appropriate.

Teacher Background

This pre-assessment activity provides an opportunity for you, the teacher, to gauge students’ learning about the heart and circulation before they complete all activities from The Science of the Heart and Circulation. It will be revisited with the post-assessment once all activities from the guide have been completed.

Objectives and Standards


  • Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.

  • Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.

  • Recognize and analyze alternative explanationsand predictions.

  • Communicate scientific procedures and explanations.

Life Science

  • Living systems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary nature of structure and function.

  • The human organism has systems for digestion, respiration, reproduction, circulation, excretion, movement, control and coordination, and for protection from disease. These systems interact with one another.

Science, Health and Math Skills

  • Graphing

Materials and Setup


Materials per Group of Students

  • Markers and writing materials

  • Pad of sticky notes

  • Poster board or large sheet of paper

Materials per Student

  • Copy of assessment sheet (see Lesson pdf)


  1. The pre-assessment should be administered as an individual student activity prior to beginning the group activities (see Procedure, Items 1 and 2).

  2. Gather materials and place in a central location, or provide computer access for students to create digital concept maps.

  3. Unless noted, each activity in the guide is designed for students working in groups of four.


Materials per Group of Students

  • Group concept maps (ongoing)

Materials per Student

  • Clean copy of Assessment sheet (see Lesson pdf)

  • Copy of previously completed pre-assessment (hold for distribution, see Session Two, Item 2)


To enrich students’ experiences throughout the unit, and to provide more opportunities for students to write about what they are learning, create a “blog wall” in the classroom, where students can post their comments and ideas. "Astroblogs" are provided with specific activities and may be used as a starting point to reference how microgravity affects the human body.

Procedure and Extensions


Time: 60 minutes

  1. Explain to students that they will be learning about the heart and circulatory system. Tell them that first, they will take a pre-assessment to help them identify what they already know and what they might want to learn about this topic.

  2. Distribute the pre-assessment to students. Have them complete the form individually, and then collect the assessments. (Save for use during the post-assessment.)

  3. Instruct students to write any questions they have about topics covered on the assessment on a “sticky note.” Then have students place their notes in a “parking lot” (a part of a bulletin board reserved just for student questions).

  4. Use student questions to begin a discussion about the unit. This is a good time to identify any misconceptions the students may have. Explain to students that their questions will be answered as they learn more as they work through the guide's activities.

  5. Next, have students organize into groups of four to begin building their concept maps. Have student groups discuss what they know about their hearts and circulatory systems. Ask each group to begin a concept map or other form of graphic organizer that represents its collective knowledge and questions. Tell students that while they may not have much information now, they will be adding to their concept maps throughout the unit.

  6. You may want to describe concept maps as a way for students to “picture” what they are learning, including relationships among concepts and other pertinent information. Then suggest some ways for groups to begin. Concept maps may be computer generated or built on large poster paper or poster board. Students may prefer to use sticky notes on their concept maps, so that ideas and concepts can be rearranged as students’ knowledge increases. Display the concept maps around the room.


Time: Two 45-minute sessions

Session One

  1. After completing this unit, have students work in their original groups to review their concept maps. Each group should discuss the additions made to its concept map and decide which findings were most important.

  2. Review each group’s concept map for accuracy and help students to correct any misconceptions. Discuss any remaining questions placed on the board (“parking lot”) over the course of the unit. Ask for volunteers or assign student teams to research unanswered questions. Provide time for student groups to change, add to or correct their concept maps.

  3. Have each group, or a spokesperson from each group, present the group’s concept map. The presentation should explain the group’s approach to organizing material and concepts that it found particularly interesting or challenging. The presentations may be used as formative or summative assessments.

Session Two

  1. Distribute copies of the post-assessment for each student to complete.

  2. After students have finished, have them compare their answers on both pre- and post-assessments to see how much they have learned during the unit. Discuss any remaining student questions and collect the assessments, which can become part of students’ port­folios or science notebooks.

Related Content

  • Heart and Circulation

    Heart and Circulation Teacher Guide

    Students investigate the heart's structure and function, blood pathways, how volumes of blood are moved through the body, and the effects of microgravity on the heart. (9 activities)


National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.