CDC en Español


Science Ambassador Lesson Plans

Middle School Lesson Plans - Birth Defects

Investigating Birth Defects
In this lesson, students take on the role of epidemiologists and investigate mystery birth defects occurring around their city or town. Students form groups, then research and present information about various birth defects and developmental disabilities to their peers. In the process, they learn about possible causes, treatments, and prevention methods for these birth-related conditions.


High school lesson plan topics - Birth Defects

You Gotta Have Heart: Congenital Heart Defects and Heart Surgery (PDF)
Congenital heart defects are one of the most prevalent types of birth defect and the largest contributor to infant mortality in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998). In this lesson students will A) learn heart anatomy by doing an on-line investigation, B) dissect a sheep heart and learn about congenital heart defects, and C) perform “cardiac surgery” to correct a septal defect on a sheep heart. The target age group for this lesson plan is students in the 11th or 12th grade.

Causes of Birth Defects: An Epidemiological Mystery (PDF)
In this lesson students will be presented with a problem – a cluster of unexplained neural tube birth defects are occurring in a town. Students will take on different roles (physician, parent, epidemiologist, lab technician, etc.) to investigate possible causes of the increased occurrence of birth defects, and then use the evidence gathered to propose the most probable cause. The focus of the lesson is to better understand the process of investigating a scientific problem and the many risk factors associated with birth defects.

Return to Top

Page Last Modified: May 4, 2011


Get clues, analyze data, solve the case, and save lives! In this fun app, you get to be the Disease Detective.

Become a CDC Science Ambassador and bring public health science into your classroom!
Send a CDC Science Ambassador Workshop e-Card


Contact Information

Science Ambassador Workshop
Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mailstop E-94
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
Email Us

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention    1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348, 8am-8pm ET/Monday-Friday
Closed Holidays -