weight loss from dieting vs. exercise
National Health Standards (Student Ages 14–18)1

Understand how the human body operates is not an easy task. There are many feedback processes at work, delays that seem to disconnect an action from its consequence, and numerous interactions between separate systems within the body. Yet understanding how our body works and the health decisions we make during everyday activities is critical, though not at the front of the minds of most high school students. System Dynamics (SD) modeling can help students gain valuable insight into decisions they make regarding their health. Building models is an active process, but also the accessibility of the software (visual) and the minimal mathematics required (elementary algebra) make the building process available to a WIDE range of students.

SD modeling has as its fundamental approach the study of how feedback affects the behavior of complex systems. There are SD models already built that address how some therapeutic drugs work in the body (introduction of the drug via IV drip, shots, or pills), these models are extended in include alcohol and the BAC level and a comparison to the legal driving limit. Additional models address the spread of epidemics, the increase in bacteria in foods left unrefrigerated, Insulin and Glucose regulation, exercise and metabolism, among others. All of these models are at a level that high school students could understand. Other models could be built to address other standards listed below.

Additional model segments can be added to any model to test public policy recommendations that would affect health care availability. Students could then decide, using the models whether the policy recommendation would have potential long-term benefit or merely be successful in the short-term, exhibiting unintended (undesirable) long-term benefits. Such analysis would help students be more informed in their analysis of public policy solutions.



  • Analyze how behavior can impact health maintenance and disease prevention.
  • Describe the interrelationships of mental, emotional, social, and physical health throughout adulthood.
  • Explain the impact of personal health behaviors on the functioning of body systems.
  • Analyze how the family, peers, and community influence the health of individuals.
  • Analyze how the environment influences the health of the community.
  • Describe how to delay onset and reduce risks of potential health problems during adulthood.
  • Analyze how public health policies and government regulations influence health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Analyze how the prevention and control of health problems are influenced by research and medical advances.


  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate resources from home, school, and community that provide valid health information.


  • Analyze the role of individual responsibility for enhancing health.
  • Evaluate a personal health assessment to determine strategies for health enhancement and risk reduction.
  • Analyze the short-term and long-term consequences of safe, risky and harmful behaviors.
  • Develop strategies to improve or maintain personal, family and community health.
  • Evaluate strategies to manage stress.



  • Evaluate the effect of media and other factors on personal, family, and community health.
  • Evaluate the impact of technology on personal, family, and community health.
  • Analyze how information from the community influences health.


  • Demonstrate skills for communicating effectively with family, peers, and others.
  • Analyze how interpersonal communication affects relationships.
  • Analyze the possible causes of conflict in schools, families, and communities.
  • Demonstrate strategies used to prevent conflict.


  • Predict immediate and long-term impact of health decisions on the individual, family, and community.


  • Evaluate the effectiveness of communication methods for accurately expressing health information and ideas.
  • Express information and opinions about health issues.
  • Utilize strategies to overcome barriers when communicating information, ideas, feelings, and opinions about health issues.
  • Demonstrate the ability to adapt health messages and communication techniques to the characteristics of a particular audience.
Some Simple Models for a Health Class

Infection rates model


Blood drug levels model

1 This list of standards is referenced from Education-World.com’s National Standards for Physical Education and Health.


©2010 CC Modeling Systems