Body Systems

Body Systems 14: Evaluating Clinical Trials

Students work together to analyze the clinical trial results of three new headache medicines that a company is testing. Students look at effectiveness of the medicines and reported side effects. Students consider how body system interactions play a role in the side effects of the medications and what that might mean for future possible use of the medicines. Students use this information to decide which medicine should be put forward for further testing and development.

Body Systems 13: Testing Medicines: A Clinical Trial

In this investigation, students analyze and interpret data about a simulated clinical trial of a headache medicine. They use the evidence from their analysis to engage in an argument about the potential use of this medicine. They begin to think about how body system interactions may need to be considered when developing new medicines for human use. The class pools results and draws conclusions based on their data. In the simulation, the taste of a yellow lemon drink represents a headache. The students then taste a pink lemon drink , which simulates the medicine. If the pink lemon drink tastes better than the yellow drink, that simulates the medicine working to get rid of the headache. If the pink and yellow drinks taste the same, then the medicine does not work on the headache. If the pink drink tastes worse than the yellow drink, the headache goes away, but with side effects from the medication. Unbeknownst to the students the pink lemon drinks were different at different table groups. Half the students received a sweeter pink drink simulating medicine and half the students received a pink lemon drink that was identical to the yellow except for color simulating a placebo.

Body Systems 12: The Circulatory Game

As a class, students model the path of blood as it travels through the human circulatory system to the lungs and other organs. The activity emphasizes the transport function of blood, particularly the transport of gases, nutrients, and wastes, and how the circulatory system interacts with other body systems. After completing Part A of Activity 12, the students learn more about the circulatory system by watching an episode of the BBC/Discovery Channel production Body Story, titled "The Beast Within". In the episode, students learn about what happens in John's cardiovascular system as he experiences a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

After developing an understanding of the structures and function of the circulatory system, students explored the structure of a sheep heart in a dissection. The students were able to see heart valves, atria and ventricles, arteries and veins as well as the differences between the left and right sides of the heart. Sheep hearts are similar in size to human hearts.


Body Systems 11: Interacting Systems

In this activity, students obtain more information about the circulatory and respiratory systems, which they investigated in the previous two activities. They read about the structure and function of each of these systems and how they interact at the system, organ, tissue, and cellular levels of organization. They construct an explanation for how each level of organization contributes to circulatory function. This helps them to prepare for the argument they will develop in Body Systems 12.

Body Systems 10: Gas Exchange

Students conduct an investigation to identify the presence of carbon dioxide in exhaled breath in order to build toward an understanding of the function of the respiratory system in excreting carbon dioxide produced as a result of cellular respiration. This activity is building towards an understanding of human body systems and subsystems from the level of the cell to the complete system, and to the interacting roles of these systems in providing nutrients and oxygen and removing carbon dioxide wastes from the cells throughout the body. This activity explores the role of the respiratory system in the regulation of gases in the blood. Students investigate how to quantitatively measure the amount of carbon dioxide in their exhaled breath by using an indicator to perform a titration.

Lucia exhales into the BTB solution and the color change indicates the presence of carbon dioxide in her exhaled breath.

A Block students prepare bags of BTB solution and then inflate the bags with their exhaled breath. They they shake the bags to distribute carbon dioxide into the BTB solution.

A Block students perform a titration with sodium dioxide to measure the relative amounts of carbon dioxide in their exhaled breath.

Body Systems 9: Heartily Fit

Students use mathematics and computational thinking as they conduct an investigation and analyze and interpret data on their own heart and respiratory rates before and after exercise. The investigation stimulates a discussion of the interactions between human body systems—specifically the circulatory and respiratory systems— in order to meet the body’s need for more oxygen during exercise.

Body Systems 8: Finding the Nerve

In this reading, students deepen their understanding of the structure and function of the human nervous system. They learn about how information is transmitted and processed to result in behaviors or memories. They also learn more about how the nervous system works with other body systems to perform particular body functions.

Body Systems 7: Can You Feel the Difference?

In this laboratory, students investigate how the human nervous system and sensory receptors respond to stimuli that induce immediate behaviors. They investigate these concepts by using two point sensors and test their partners response in three different locations (palm, fingertip and forearm). By looking at a larger sample of data from all middle school students, they begin to see trends about which areas of the body are more sensitive and less sensitive to touch. They also begin to understand the idea that there are similar systems in different organisms.

After completing Activity 7, the students learn more about the nervous and immune systems by watching an episode of the BBC/Discovery Channel production Body Stories, titled Out of Control. This two-part story first explains how an infant's brain grows and develops, and how various sectors of the brain control different aspects of function. Part two takes students inside a woman who has been stung by a wasp. A subsequent sting triggers a massive and deadly allergic reaction.

Body Systems 6: Observing Organisms

In this laboratory, students begin to explore how sense receptors respond to stimuli in the blackworm (Lumbriculus variegatus). Students are introduced to the concept of immediate behavior being a response to stimuli. Students use what they have learned to predict blackworm behavior in response to specific application of stimuli. By observing the reactions of the blackworms, students gather evidence that blackworms have a nervous systems. In an extension, the students look at the blackworms under a microscope and gather evidence that blackworms also have circulatory and digestive systems.

Body Systems 5: Food Breakdown

Students use information provided in the text to develop physical models of proteins and carbohydrates. They use these models to explore the breakdown of food during digestion and the use of the resulting subunits as building blocks for human proteins (in the case of amino acids) or for generating usable energy (in the case of sugars). Based on their investigation of the physical models, they create drawn models to represent the use of food as a source for matter and energy.

On Tuesday, November 20, the students learned about the microbiome's affect on human health by watching an episode of Nova Wonders titled What's Living in You?

Body Systems 4: Digestion: An Absorbing Tale

In this activity, students read about functions and structures of the human digestive system, and the idea of system interactions between the skeletal, muscular and circulatory systems. The reading provides a context for understanding the role of the digestive system in mechanical breakdown, chemical breakdown, and food absorption. Below are some links for student to learn more about the digestive system:

The Digestive System

Find more information about the organs of the digestive system on this interactive site.

Tissues of the Digestive System

This site is from the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. It links to a lab manual which includes photographs of microscope slides of the various tissues of digestive organs.

After students complete and discuss the reading, they watch an episode of the BBC/Discovery Channel production Body Stories, titled Spreading Menace. In the first story we see what happens to Mike, when he eats undercooked chicken and develops salmonella poisoning, and in the second story we see the havoc George's crash diet wrecks on his body, and how he learns how increasing activity levels, in addition to eating a healthy diet can lead improved health.

Body Systems 3: What's Happening Inside?

Students learn about systems in the human body and their functions. Students group Organ or Structure cards into systems and explore the function of organs and their associated body systems. On the second day, students will take apart the class torso model Henry to learn more about how body systems interact. To learn more about organs and body systems, check out the following sites:

Human Anatomy On-line

This site allows an interactive exploration of the human body systems.

Body Systems

Find out some interesting facts about your body systems.

Interactive Body Systems

On this site you will find Arnold and must put his organs back into their proper place.

Body Systems 2: Parts of a Whole

Students begin to learn about major organs and systems in the human body. First, they complete an a 2-D poster that exposes their current knowledge and ideas about the sizes and locations of specific organs. They then create a three-dimensional model of selected organs and structures and revisit their ideas about the human body.

Body Systems 1: The Pellagra Story

Students obtain and evaluate information from a short video segment and a text passage on the investigation of pellagra, a nutritional deficiency common in the early 1900s. They reflect on how scientists gather evidence about cause and effect relationships in the human body and are introduced to the concept of clinical trials. The issues associated with investigating and experimenting on humans provides a context for the exploration of the human body system as a system of interacting subsystems. The Story of Pellagra begins at about minute 15 of the video. Additionally, students can learn about how Pellagra persists today by reading this piece in from the March edition of Discover Magazine.

Body Systems

Science as a Human Endeavor

To learn more about the interests and accomplishments of diverse scientists and engineers, and how people with varied backgrounds contribute to and depend on the advancement of science and technology, visit the links below.

Edith A. Perez

Perez is a pioneering breast cancer researcher who has led numerous clinical trials for new breast cancer therapies which spurs the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Her work bridges the Body Systems and From Cells to Organisms units.

Ben Barres

Ben Barres was a researcher of the role of glia, the most common type of brain cell, in development and disease. He was also a strong supporter for equal opportunity in science. His research bridges the Body Systems and From Cells to Organisms units.

Juleen R. Zierath

Zierath's research focuses on cellular mechanisms of Type II diabetes. Her research bridges the Body Systems and From Cells to Organisms units.

Paula A. Johnson

Dr. Johnson is trained as a cardiologist and has conducted research on women’s health issues.