A few days ago, my students kicked off a new unit by making an initial model to address the driving question of “How does my body use food as fuel.”. Given an outline of the human body, students began drawing and writing ideas. In general, several classes worth of drawings showed me that students have the basis of the digestive system. (To the chuckles of himself and classmates, one student did ask what was the snake inside our body that eats things up.)
Mouth-esophagus-stomach-small intestine-large intestine-rectum (lots of interesting sketches on the output)
Returning to the key question, I again asked if this shows how the body takes food and uses it as fuel. Yes! was the response. The class was followed up by Brain Pop’s Guts and Bolts simulation.
Through eleven stages, students slowly build the components of key body systems. For each step, I had them make meaning out of the hint provided and tie their understanding to their body. I enjoyed listening to students problem solve with each other and discuss ideas such as where the oxygen was disappearing to and where the carbon dioxide was coming from. Have we fully built out our model? Nope, but students are now seeing that several systems are involved and I hope wondering where the actual transformation of nutrients and oxygen to carbon dioxide is happening. Give Guts and Bolts a look and let me know if you have great activities on this topic.