Overview:This unit investigates some of the systems of the human
body. The lessons are designed to use the various human body models
from ARC. These lessons focus on four systems: skeletal, circulatory,
respiratory and digestive. As part of my science curriculum I also
teach what is more properly "health" so the lessons also include that aspect
of the human body. I have tried to include as many activities as
possible, but there is much of this unit which is either look at or make
models. I include Internet resources. I would advise checking
these before you use them as I have found these do not stay active.
Maine Learning Results - performance indicators addressed
Content Area: Science and Technology
Standard C. Cells, performance indicator 4. Describe the functions of the major human body systems.
Standard K. Scientific Reasoning, performance indicator 5. Demonstrate an understanding that ideas are more believable when supported by good reasons (health)
Standard L Communication, performance indicators 1 record results of
experiments and activities; 4 - make and/or use sketches, tables,
graphs, physical representations and manipulatives to explain procedures
and ideas. 5 - gather and effectively present information, using a variety
of media including computers.
6. Cite examples of bias in information sources and question the validity of information from varied sources. (health
Content Area - Health and Physical Education, Health Education
Standard A. Health Concepts. Performance indicator 1. Describe the relationship between healthy practices and personal health.
3. Describe the basic structures and functions of the human body systems.
Standard C. Health Education, performance indicator 3.Demonstrate basic care of human body systems.
1. Which of the following is an organ in your body?
a. digestion c. circulation
b. stomach d. skeletal
2. What does your heart do?
a. gets rid of oxygen c. collects wastes
b. mixes blood d. pumps blood to your body
3. Your lungs are part of which system?
a. respiratory c. digestive
b. muscular d. circulatory
4. The esophagus is part of which system?
a. respiratory c. skeletal
b. circulatory d. digestive
5. The food group you should eat most is:
a. meats c. grains
b. dairy d. fruits
6. Some thing you can do to help your heart is:
a. get exercise c. get plenty of sleep
b. drink water d. sleep on your back
7. Blood goes to the lungs to:
a. be pumped around the body c. be stored
b. get oxygen d. be made
a. carry blood back to the heart c. take blood away from the heart
b. carry food to the cells d. are the blood vessels in the lungs
9. The skeletal system has:
a. nerves c. blood
b. bones d. your brain
10. Your stomach:
a. is connected to your large intestine c. let water go back to your
b. grinds up food d. removes wastes from your body
These are short answer questions where you can get up to 2 points for a complete answer.
1. What are two things your backbone does?
2. Name one organ in the digestive system and tell what it does.
3. What are two things that your lungs do?
4. What are two jobs or functions of the circulatory system?
5. What are two parts of the respiratory system?
1. 2pts. Protects spinal cord and helps you stand up
1pt either or the above
0pt nothing relevant
2. 2pts. Names one organ in digestive system and gives correct function
1 pt. either names OR give a function
0 pt nothing relevant to digestive system
3. 2pts. Any 2 of the following: cleans air, removes carbon dioxide,
gives oxygen to blood
1 pt one of above
0 pt nothing relevant to lungs
4. 2pts any 2 of the following: pumps blood, take oxygen to or carbon
dioxide from, the cells, takes nutrients to cells, removes wastes from
cells, fights disease.
1 pt one of the above
0 pt nothing relevant to circulatory system
5. 2 pts names two parts (lungs, trachea, nose, bronchus, alveoli, bronchiole)
1 pt names one correct part
0 pt not a correct name, though may describe part
Small groups: Use skeleton from ARC allow students time to just explore skeleton in small groups. Others could be cutting out and putting paper skeleton together (The Body Book). This skeleton could take a long time to assemble; I might shorten it, by encouraging students not to cut around everything in detail. Another idea would be for students to trace a friend's body on large paper and fill in some of the more important bones, using charts or resource books.
Whole class: discuss purposes of bones demonstrating with the skeleton.
Health: 1. This might be the time to talk about wearing helmets for
biking, skiing, and skateboarding (and padding). Have an expert come
in - school nurse, EMT, doctor, etc.
Demonstrate with model the various kinds of joints:
1. Ball and socket - individuals can show movement with cupped hand and fist. Found in hips and shoulders
2. Pivot: head on neck
3. Hinge - elbows, knees
(Ligaments hold the bones together, but allow movement. Cartilage is soft material which protects the ends of the bones.)
Muscles: these make bones move. They attach to the two
bones with ligaments. They work in pairs - so you can bend and straighten
arm or leg (demonstrate). They get longer and shorter. Some muscles
you can control (move arms, fingers, etc) and some you can't (breathing,
You can mention here that other kinds of muscles will come up with other systems (heart, digestive, breathing, etc.).
What happened to that apple you ate?
Whole class: Brainstorm what happens to food we eat? "You have an apple in your hand and you bring it up to your mouth. Now what happens?"
You could do this as just a free brainstorm session, writing everything down or write them on the board and try to get things in some sort of order as they say things. You could say "What happens first?" "Now what?" etc.
Go over what happens again using adult or youth torso models and/or charts, possibly all three. I would mention terms like mouth, teeth, saliva, tongue, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. I would talk generally about glands and digestive juices (as chemicals which "dissolve" food), and absorption of nutrients from the small intestine. Muscles can be brought up again as the way food is pushed along.
Small groups: let children explore models and charts on own, possibly drawing models and labeling selected parts or filling in an unlabelled illustration. You could have students lie down on a large piece of paper and have some one trace around them to create a life-sized picture of them and their insides. (Make It Work! Body does this.) Individuals may be assembling model from The Body Book. This small group and individual part may take a couple of days.
An experiment to show how digestion begins in the mouth uses saltines and iodine solution, which may be bought at a drugstore. The idea is that iodine reacts with starch (which the saltine contains before it is chewed and acted on by salivase (an enzyme in saliva) and turns a dark blue/black color). Test the saltine before chewing with a drop of iodine. It should turn purple/black. Then test it again after it has been chewed many times (it has to be pretty well chewed up and spit out - kids will think it is pretty gross!). The starch in the saltine will be turned to sugar and will not react with the iodine. You could even begin to quantify things by counting numbers of chews and rate darkness of test. You can test other foods to see if they contain starch (bread, potato, flour, candy, cheese, fruit juice, soda, etc.
Test food for Iron (from 101 Science Projects). Mix the liquid food to be tested with strong tea (use equal, small amounts of each). After time iron particles will drop to the bottom of the container from those drinks which contain iron.
Extensions: Nutrition. - this can really be a whole unit, ending
with healthy snacks.
Study of sense of taste - Investigate taste on different parts of the tongue (sweet, sour, bitter, salty). Map results. (see Science Wizardry For Kids)
Relation of taste and smell - try to guess unseen foods by taste only (holding nose ).(see 101 Science Projects)
Teeth and dental health - Use models of tooth anatomy and lower molar. Talk about dental health - brushing, flossing, fluoride rinse.
Experiment with chicken bones (which contain calcium as do teeth) in soda to show effect of it on teeth. Let bone in soda or a variety of liquids for days or week and see what effect it has.
Experiment: "brush" half of a hard boiled egg with fluoride containing tooth paste. Then put it in vinegar (or soda) for several days. See what happens to the unprotected part of the egg. Egg shells also contain calcium.
Materials: display charts, torso models, heart model, sphygmomanometers,and stethoscopes.
Be warned: I discovered that several of my 4th graders were very apprehensive about discussing any of the human body, but particularly the circulatory system.
Whole class: brainstorm what they know about this system and write it
on board or paper.
Continue with discussion including: blood, the idea of circulation, 3 types of blood vessels (arteries take blood away from the heart, veins bring blood to the heart and capillaries are very small connecting the arteries and veins) and the heart.
Discuss what circulatory system does: carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, carries wastes (both digestive and carbon dioxide) to be disposed of, fights disease (special blood cells),
Heart model: show sections of heart, how blood comes in, goes to lungs, comes back and leaves (with fresh oxygen) to the body. Valves keep blood going right way. You could get an animal heart, even chicken or turkey, to make it look more real (maybe too real).
Make models from The Body Book or sketch illustration.
With no instruments students can find pulse and count before and after walking or running, noting increase. Look for differences between boys and girls, "athletes" and "non-athletes", before and after exercise. Etc. You could make bar graphs, comparing these or other things, or line plots of all the data. Extension into math: talk about range, median and mode.
Use Stethoscopes to listen to heartbeat and use sphygmomanometers to measure blood pressure. Try to get school nurse or other medical person to help and who could better discuss what blood pressure means. Information could be graphed and compared (boys/girls, time of day, amount of exercise, etc, see above.).
Parts of the blood in general terms (blood cells, clotting, disease fighting)
Health and importance of exercise.
Blood and blood-borne diseases (AIDS)
Materials: display charts, torso models, and lung inflation model
Whole group brainstorm what class already knows about respiration.
Ask what "respiration" is. List answers. Then ask what parts of the body are involved.
Whole group activity led by teacher: While students are just sitting
ask them to count number of times they breathe in a minute or 30 seconds.
Have them record this; you could have them repeat it 3 times and find average
and discuss reasons for variations. Teacher or students, using either
a line plot or bar graph, could record the information on the board.
Various comparisons could be made: Is there a difference between boys and
girls? Does age make a difference? Physical activity?
After you have counted breathing in a resting position, have students get up and walk or jog around and then count the number of breaths. Compare the resting and after exercise results. Why do you breathe harder after exercise? (to supply muscles with more oxygen and get rid of increased wastes)
Look at charts and point out parts of respiratory system - mouth, nose (cleans, warms air), windpipe (trachea), bronchi, bronchioles in lungs, diaphragm, ribs. How we breathe - lungs are not muscles, so we need other muscles - diaphragm and muscles between ribs. Demonstrate with model. Students can make models with soda bottles, balloons and a straw (see Make It Work: Body or 101 Science Projects or probably lots of other books).
Experiment with lung capacity: there are various set-ups to measre the capacity of air in lungs. (See Science Wizardry for Kids, Make It Work:body, etc.) They involve a bottle with has been marked in some increments upside down in a basin or large dish of water and a tube or straw with which to exhale into the large container of water forcing water up into the marked container. The amount forced up is lung capacity. I think using a straw is more sanitary because you can easily change straws. Caution against Inhaling.
Health: drugs that interfer with breathing are bad, like sniffing glue,
uppers and downers.
Things that clog lungs (cigarettes, asbestos, air pollution, etc.) are bad (smoking and smoking bans).
101 Science Projects by Robert Hirschfeld, Troll, 1994, ISBN 0-8167-3274-4
The Body Book by Donald M. Silver and Patricia J. Wynne, Scholastic, 1993, ISBN 0-590-49239-X
Magic School Bus books.
Make It Work! Body by Liz Wyse; Scholastic, 1994, ISBN 0-590-000470-0.
Science Wizardry for Kids by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams. Scholastic, 1992, ISBN 0-590-69326-3
Teaching Elementary Science by William K. and Mary K. Esler, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, CA, 1981. ISBN 0-534-09528-3
This is a game involving a search on the internet. Need to belong to Scholastic to get in.
http://www.trms.ga.net/~jtucker/students/human/digestive2/ (NOT found 8/5)
Http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.htm/ Nervous system (NOT found 8/5 error)
http://www.mnu.edu/~mithelem/heart.htm (NOT found)
http://www.bharatonline.com/heart/htcodz.html (NOT found)
http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/teacherhb.htm This seems good - about many systems.
http://www.pacificnet.net/~mandel/Science.html this is huge list of many different science activities, but toward the bottom are 3 which have to do with the human body. Tells how to make a stethoscope with paper tubes.
http://sln.fi.edu/tfi/activity/bio/bio-5.html. Activity modeling heart.
http://www.eduplace.com/rdg/gen_act/survival/survive.html Health - dealing with common cold.
http://sln.fi.edu/biosci/heart.html this the Franklin Science Museum site which has quite a section on the heart.
This has information from the Magic School Bus Series on the human body.
Mostly it seems to be text.