Choose a Prosthetic

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Teacher's Guide

Recommended Grade Levels: 7 - 12 and up 

Tips for using the site with students      

  1. Before using this activity in class (or at home with your kids) go through the activity once to make sure it works correctly on your computer(s).

  2. WARNING: Some of the photographs and procedures in this knee surgery activity are rather graphic.

  3. If the activity does not load after clicking the 'start' button, you may be asked to download a Flash Player from Please click yes as this allows you to view the activity. If you are using school computers, you might need to contact your tech support team to download the Flash Player.

  4. If you are using an iPad or other iDevice, our games will not play without downloading an app or browser. We recommend the Photon browser available at:

  5. Your computer(s) will need to have some sort of sound output. Either speakers or headphones will work well. The majority of this activity has voice audio. We highly recommend headphones in a classroom setting. Hearing impaired students can turn on the subtitles by clicking the button in the upper right corner of the screen.

  6. Students in the target grade-range will take approximately eight to fifteen minutes to complete surgery working individually or in groups of two to three. Some students can get queasy using this activity, particularly looking at the photos of real surgery. We recommend keeping a close eye on students when they experience this activity for the first time.

  7. After students use the site, teachers may want to discuss with their class why certain steps of surgery occurred in the order they did or why these steps were performed at all. Leading questions such as "why don't patients need a painkiller during surgery?" will get students thinking about WHY various steps exist or why they are accomplished as they are. Teachers can also ask questions such as, "what do you think the FIRST knee replacement surgery was like and how do you think it differed from today's surgery?"

    An absolutely fantastic follow-up activity is to experience the COSI Surgical Suite: Total Knee Replacement video conference program. This is real surgery, in real time. Students can watch the surgery via video conference equipment and talk to the surgeon and/or personnel as the surgery progresses. If you are interested in this program, see the following URL (but we warn you, this program is popular and sells out early in the school year): (scroll about halfway down this page)

Answers to Quiz Questions 

Q1. Are we performing surgery today?
A1. Yes, we are doing surgery as all vital signs are in acceptable ranges.

Q2. Which knee needs surgery?
A2. The left knee needs surgery.

Q3. What functions should these drugs perform?
A3. Paralytic agent, amnestic agent and relaxant.

Q4. Why do you think knee surgery involves so many drapes?
A4. To protect the patient's new prosthetic.

Q5. What purpose do you think the perpendicular lines serve?
A5. To make it easier to match skin when closing incision.

Q6. Why do you think the two tibial components are inserted separately instead of as one unit?
A6. The plastic spacer can be replaced when it wears out.

Q7. Why do you think so many steps are taken to insure proper alignment?
A7. Faulty alignment can create many complications.

Q8. What is the major difference between these two methods of closing the incision?
A8. Sutures cause less scaring.

Q9. What kind of forces do you think the new knee will need to withstand?
A9. 5x the weight of the body.

Ohio Science Standards

Science & Technology
Grades 6-8:

  1. Give examples of how technological advances, influenced by scientific knowledge, affect the quality of life.
  2. Design a solution or product taking into account needs and constraints (e.g., cost, time, trade-offs, properties of materials, safety and aesthetics).

Scientific Inquiry
Grades 6-8:

  1. Explain that there are differing sets of procedures for guiding scientific investigations and procedures are determined by the nature of the investigation, safety considerations and appropriate tools.

Scientific Ways of Knowing
Grades 11-12:

  1. Explain how ethical considerations shape scientific endeavors.
  2. Explain how societal issues and considerations affect the progress of science and technology.

National Science Standards   

Content Standards
Grades 5-8:

  1. Understandings about scientific Inquiry.
  2. Understanding of structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity.
  3. Abilities of technological design and understandings about science and technology.
  4. Personal health risks and benefits, science and technology in society.

Grades 9-12:

  1. Understandings about scientific inquiry.
  2. Matter, energy and organization in living systems and behavior of organisms.
  3. Abilities of technological design, understandings about science and technology.
  4. Natural and human-induced hazards, science and technology in local, national, and global challenges.
  5. Understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and science as a human endeavor.