Endocrine System

Creative activities to help your students learn about the Endocrine System.  Activities marked with an * are quick and could easily be incorporated into class.

1) Conversation Starter for Fight or Flight*
2) Hierarchical Endocrinism
3) Follow the Bouncing Hormones
4) Song about endocrine system from “Groovin’ in the Hippocampus”*

Ask the students to get into a comfortable position in their chairs. Turn off the lights (close shades if possible). Tell the students that when you begin they will be told to close their eyes. They are to keep them closed until told otherwise. They should also not make any sounds (don’t answer out loud any questions that may be asked). They are to only listen and use their imaginations.

Say (pausing …. after each suggestion): Close your eyes….Relax your feet….Relax your knees….Relax your thighs… Relax your stomach….Relax your hands….Relax your shoulders….Relax your chest….Relax your forehead. Imagine yourself in the middle of a beautiful field of flowers….The smell is sweet….the colors are all of your favorites….there is no pollen to irritate you….you are perfectly relaxed….the sky is blue, with only small puffs of white clouds…. You look around and see a small dirt road leading into the most beautiful grove of trees….you decide to follow the road into the trees….As you walk on the road, the temperature gets cooler….there are still flowers among the trees…. You see the road makes a sharp turn ahead, and as you walk around the turn you notice a house at the end of the road….It is not large, but it is not small either….The house is not well kept, but it is not falling down either….You can tell that someone lives there…. You decide to go up to the house to see if anyone there could give you a drink of water….You walk up to the house and up the 3 broken steps to the front door….The door is standing open a little as you knock….No one answers your knock, so you knock again, a little louder….Now you hear a muffled sound coming from far inside the house….You look into the front room of the house and see clothes laying around….a half full glass of milk….and a kitchen in the back…. You hear the sound again….so you call out….again you hear a muffled sound from the back of the house….You walk into the house….looking around as you go towards the kitchen…. In the kitchen you notice a door, half open leading into blackness….you open the door and see steps leading down….you hear the muffled sound a little louder now coming from beneath the stairs…. You begin walking down the stairs, into the darkness….your hand brushes up against the cool wall….At the bottom of the stairs you hear the muffled sound coming from your right, and as you turn towards it your hand feels a wetness on the walls….You walk very slowly towards the sound….in the darkness….then A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A (teacher screams as loudly as possible) Open your eyes. What is your body doing right now????

Janet Weaver, Rosary School Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
retrieved from: The Educator’s Reference Desk

· Place the organs and hormones of the endocrine system into a political hierarchy at whatever level or type of organization (county / state / federal / university / community college / church) you like.  Assign positions or jobs and give explanations for the assigned titles and list job duties.

3) Follow the bouncing hormones:
This exercise requires a simple diagram of the entire human body.  You want something you can print to 8.5X11 size that shows major organs but not much else as it can get confusing otherwise.  A kinesthetic approach to learning the origin, path and outcomes of hormones is to trace them on the body. Here are a couple of diagrams if you don’t have something readily available.
without organs
with organs

Several ways:
1) laminate the sheet and use write on / wipe off markers to trace the paths, making sure to write onto the sheet what the starting point of the hormone is, show it’s target and write down the outcomes.  You can also make lines from the target of the hormone to effects or responses in a different part of the body.
2) Alternately you can use one sheet of paper for each hormone.
3) Ideally you do both.  The student can have a permanent record on the paper sheet and then practice on the write on  / wipe off sheet.  Encourage students to talk out loud as they draw the pathway so they hear, see and move through what they are studying.

Find ways to additionally use color – such as one color for hormones that originate in the anterior lobe of the pituitary, one color for those that come from the posterior lobe of the pituitary and another color for those that are released by the adrenal medullae after stimulation from the hypothalamus.  Students should place a key at the bottom of the papers if they are going to do this so they will remember what that color means.

4) Song from “Groovin’ in the Hippocampus”:
Hormones Rule (hormones and endocrine organs)

Urinary System

Choose from the following activities / resources to enhance instruction of the urinary system.   If there is no class time they can be offered as suggestions of extra-credit possibilities, and after review for accuracy, many projects could be shared on Blackboard to instruct and inspire other students.  An * indicates that the activity is 10 minutes or less and could be done in class with little preparation.
1) Nephron model
2) Colorful excretory pathway
3) Learning from your own urine
4) Being a nephron*
5) Musical resources for the urinary system*

1) Nephron model
Have students build either a 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional nephron. They can use legos or straws or anything else you or they have lying around. Have students pretend they are making a model for a younger person to demonstrate the literal ups and downs of urine production.  We used lincoln logs and cut outs of molecules for a nephron model in our video of “Groovin’ on the Nephron Line”     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4eOKdb2FSQ

2) Colorful excretory pathway
Have students use color either in flashcards or in a model to make sure they understand which parts of the filtration process take place in each location from glomerulus to collecting duct.  They should use one color for a process like re-absorption of water and then have a card that lists all the locations where that takes place in that same location.

3) Learning from your own urine
Have students pay attention to their own urine.  Have them pay attention to how the color and possibly odor of their urine changes depending on:
What they are drinking – Gatorade vs. water vs. soda;
How much they are drinking; and
How much salt they are eating.

Have them figure out why the color/ odor of their urine varies depending on these variables.  Are there any other variables that affect the color, smell or specific gravity of their urine?

4) Being a nephron
Hand out cards to students, each card listing a step or stage of a pathway or participants in a process.  Have the students arrange themselves in the proper order, and in the appropriate shape if applicable  (you can also have each student make him or herself look or sound like the part).  This is fun with the process of urine production as there are many steps / anatomical destinations and a definite arrangement of parts that could be simulated by a line of people with cards.  Then have the participants shout out the steps in order.

5) Musical resources for the urinary system
Songs from “Groovin’ in the Hippocampus”: (clips and downloads available at the home page of this site)
Renin is Runnin (renin-angiotensin system)
Groovin’ on the Nephron Line (excretory pathway) video of this song at

Respiratory System

The following activity can be used to enhance instruction of the respiratory system.  This activity is also found under acid/base balance.

· Many students do not understand the chemistry involved in acid/base balance – buffering systems.  Here’s a fun way to help them understand.  I call it Buffer Ball:

Get yourself 3 nerf balls (or other soft balls) of different colors.  Designate the projectiles as H+, ‘combine,’ and ‘dissolve.’  Write on them if possible.
Then have the students make themselves signs that include name and formula for other players in the buffer system : carbonic acid, bicarbonate, carbon dioxide and water.
Designate an area of play.
Have some of the participants sit on the sidelines with a stack of signs so they can adopt molecular status as needed.
Toss the balls to the players in the area of play.
Whoever catches a ball should react appropriately depending on the label of the ball.  If they catch and react with an H+, then they should step to the sidelines and exchange places with a student wearing the appropriate sign for what they have become.  The player who has just left the field of play then tosses the ball to someone else.
If a player catches the ‘combine’ or ‘dissolve’ ball and can do so, they should either find another player with whom they can combine and together go to the sidelines so that the new molecule can take their place – OR, in the case of dissolve, go to the sidelines and have 2 people take their place with appropriate signs.
If the caught ball has no effect on the catcher, he or she should toss it to someone else in the field of play.
There is room for a lot of variation and manipulation with this idea.  You can flood the system with CO2 as if the person has COPD and hoards CO2, or you could reduce the amount of CO2 present as if the person is hyperventilating.
You could establish the number of signs in a plausible ratio for a body with normal pH, or just play to give the students the idea of the chemistry involved and the constant shuffling that makes a buffer system work.

Reproductive System

Below you will find the following activities to enhance your instruction of the reproductive system.  Items with an asterisk are shorter and could easily be incorporated into class.
1) Merging Flash Cards
2) Seinfeld ‘Mulva’ Party
3) The Sex Connection
4) Fetal Development
5) Reproducing with the Stars*
6) Filming Meiosis
7) Songs for the reproductive system*



Make flash cards for the process of egg development / release to fertilization in one color and flash cards for the process of sperm development / travel to fertilization in another color. Arrange the cards on the floor with each branch of activity (male and female) coming from a different direction to meet in the middle.

2) SEINFELD ‘MULVA’ PARTY.  (Jerry once dated a woman named Mulva.)

Everyone must come to the party as a part or process of the reproductive system. They should choose a name that rhymes with their assigned part or process and they must display information about their part or process on their clothes / body. It’s sort of like being a bunch of walking posters. Optionally people could also bring a snack that in some way rhymes with, represents, or is like their part or process. A file card should accompany the snack explaining the connection. Video the whole thing for review – maybe post on Blackboard and try not to eat too many Vienna sausages!


Encourage students to understand the connection between every element of what they are studying and sex. Sex is after all very interesting, so if they can relate all of it to sex in some way they may retain more.  In other words how does every system, pathway, process and body part relate to sex or affect sexual activity?

4) Fetal Development
Here is a group exercise that encourages students to investigate fetal development and the effects of alcohol on a developing fetus.  The group exercise includes an abbreviated version of fetal development and four case studies wherein a pregnant woman drank alcohol of different amounts and at different times during their pregnancy.  Challenge your students to make the risks associated with consuming alcohol more specific.  Which systems or stages of development would be most heavily affected by the different mothers drinking habits?
NOVA (PBS) classroom activity

5) Reproducing with The Stars
Challenge students to think of positive and negative traits of celebrities.  Then, assuming a simple dominant/recessive relationship of alleles for those traits (also ignoring the entire nature/nurture controversy entirely), mate celebrities and see what their offspring might be like.  The class or group must first agree on whether traits are dominant or recessive, and then Punnett Squares can help predict phenotypes of celebrity breeding.  Encourage the use of funny traits such as “ability to make a career out of a disaster/single hit/or jail sentence,” or “augmentable breasts,” or “beauty greater than talent.”

6) Filming Meiosis
In an article in Encyclopedia Britannica on-line taken from Science Teacher, December 2008 by Austin M. Hitt & Christopher Bogiages, the authors suggest having students make their own stop animation films of mitosis and meiosis.  Using the models you have in class, or by making their own models or drawings, the students can take a picture of each step (or sub-step if they make transitional models) which can then be strung together into a film.  The motion, and the process of setting it up in the proper sequence may help students better remember the process as a process, rather than as a series of models with labels on the bottom. http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/35725678/MOVIE-MITOSIS

7) Songs from “Groovin in the Hippocampus”
Menses, Menses (menstruation)
The Ballad of Cap & Corona (gamete movement and fertilization)
You can hear clips and download theses songs from the home page of this website

Nervous System

Below you will find the following activities / resources to enhance instruction of the nervous system:  Items with an asterisk are short and can easily be incorporated into class.
1) Neuron model showing action potential* (short once it’s made)
2) Neuro muscular junction flip chart
3) Relevant experiments from The Naked Scientist
4) Songs about the nervous system*

Once you make this you can use it semester after semester for a quick demo of action potential…
Rope Neuron
This giant model of a neuron illustrates the properties of chemical transmission and the action potential. You must construct the neuron before you use it with a group of people. Cut two to three foot lengths of rope to use as dendrites. Another 10-15 foot piece of rope will be turned into the axon. The cell body and synaptic terminal of the neuron can be plastic containers. Drill holes in the plastic containers for the dendrites and axon. To secure the dendrites and axon in place, tie a knot in the ropes so they will not slip through the holes of the containers. The action potential is modeled with a pool float. Thread the pool float onto the axon before you secure the axon in place. Place small plastic balls or ping-pong balls in the synaptic terminal and your model is ready to go!

Set up the model:
1. Get volunteers to hold each of the dendrites.
2. Get one volunteer to hold the cell body and one to hold the synaptic terminal. Make sure the person holding the synaptic terminal keeps his or her hands AWAY from the place the axon attaches (more about this later).
3. Get one volunteer who will hold more molecules of neurotransmitter (more plastic balls) near the people who are dendrites.
4. Get one volunteer to hold the action potential.

Use the model:
1. Have the person holding molecules of neurotransmitter TOSS the plastic balls to the people who are dendrites. The “dendrite people” try to catch the plastic balls. This models the release of neurotransmitters and the attachment (binding) of neurotransmitters to receptors on dendrites.
2. When three plastic balls are caught by dendrites, the person holding the action potential can throw/slide the pool float down the axon. This simulates the depolarization of the neuron above its threshold value and the generation of an action potential.
3. The action potential (pool float) should speed down the axon toward the synaptic terminal where it will slam into the container. This should cause the release of the neurotransmitters (plastic balls) that were being held there.
CAUTION: The pool float will travel very fast! Make sure that the person holding the synaptic terminal keeps his or her fingers and hands AWAY from the pool float.
Rope neuron in action_2
If the entire model is stretched tightly, the pool float should travel down to the terminal smoothly. This model can be used to reinforce the “ALL-OR-NONE” concept of the action potential:
* Once the action potential starts, it continues without interruption.
* The size of the action potential stays the same as it travels down the axon.

* Rope (for dendrites and axon)
* Plastic containers (for cell body and synaptic terminal)
* Pool Float (or another object will slide along the rope; for the action potential)
* Plastic balls (for neurotransmitters)
* Volunteers!

retrieved from:
retrieved 10/12/10


This ideas comes from Professor Michele Paradies
professor of A&P at SUNY Orange : Orange County Community College in Middletown, NY
Instructions come first and the lists mentioned in the instructions follow. Thanks Professor Paradies!!

Instructions for NMJ flip chart activity:

This activity is designed to help students review the steps of the generation and propagation of an action potential along a axon as well the activation of the neuromuscular junction.  Students should be familiar with the terminology on the sheets and have gone over the process in class or with the aid of a tutorial CD before doing this activity.

1.  Hand out the cause and effect lists to students.  Have students break up into groups of 3-4.

2.  Have students write the statements on the cause list on white index cards, and the statements on the effect list on colored index cards (or on two sets of colored cards).

3.  Have students spread the white cards out on a table or other surface.  Then, have the students put the cards in order by deciding what happens first, etc.

4.  Check with each group periodically to see how they are progressing.  Suggest moving cards to new locations where appropriate.

5.  Once a group has correctly ordered the first set of cards, have them start to integrate the second set in with the first.  I recommend to students that they keep the first set of cards lined up (they may even want to number them at this point so they can return them to the proper order if the line gets mussed!) then try to match each new card (the effect) to its direct cause, e.g. sodium channels open would be partnered with sodium rushes into the cell.

6.  Again, circulate among the groups offering support and suggestions.

7.  Once both sets of cards are in proper order and all the causes are matched to their effects, the students can make the set of cards into a flip chart.  I bring in some large sheets of card stock that I have sliced into strips.  Students should tape or staple each cause to its effect so that the writing on one side is upside down compared to the writing on the other side.  Then, the cards are stapled or taped to the strip of card stock (taping facilitates better flipping, but is not as sturdy – do what works best for you and your students).  Start by taping/stapling the last set of cards to the strip and work your way to the first, which will end up at the top of the strip.  Make sure the causes are facing you as you connect the cards to the strip.

8.  When you are finished, students can run through the whole procedure as a review by flipping through the completed project!  Make sure you bring enough extra cards and strips of cardstock that everyone can take the material home to make their own flip strip!

Hope you and your students have fun with this!  It was my most popular activity last year by far – students loved the challenge of organizing the cards and seeing how the whole process unfolded.  And they did retain the information very well for the exam and the final.

The ‘Cause’ List:
-Acetylcholine binds to ACh receptors
-Action potential travels progressively through axon
-High levels of sodium inside the axon cause membrane polarity reversal
-Acetylcholine diffuses across the synaptic cleft
-Voltage-regulated sodium channels open in the adjacent sarcolemma
-The sodium potassium pump works
-Voltage-regulated calcium channels in the axon terminal open
-Acetylcholinesterase bind to and breaks down acetylcholine
-Action potential is initiated at the axon hillock
-Voltage regulated potassium ions open
-High calcium levels in the axon terminal initiate synaptic vesicle exocytosis
-Voltage-regulated sodium channels open

The ‘Effect’ List:
– ACh reaches the motor end plate
– sodium ions enter the axon
– the depolarized section of the axon repolarizes
– the action potential eventually arrives at axon terminal
– ACh released into the synaptic cleft
– returns sodium and potassium to the appropriate side of the membrane
– chemically-regulated sodium channels open
– voltage regulated sodium channels activated in the proximal axon
– chemically-regulated sodium channels close
– calcium rushes into the axon terminal
– initiating a wave of depolarization through the sarcolemma
– a section of the axon’s membrane becomes depolarized

3) RELEVANT EXPERIMENTS found on The Naked Scientist

A) 2 experiments having to do with the senses that could be done as a quick demo in lab or class:
1) Confusing colors:

2) Strange textures

B) About the cochlea:

How We Hear, Echolocation and Giant Whoopee Cushions


4)  Songs from “Groovin’ in the Hippocampus“: You are welcome to play these songs in class and to share or project a lyrics sheet, but please do not give the actual song to your students.  The songs are available for download as individual songs on the right side of the home page of this site.
Jerking Me Around (reflexes)
The Brain Song (location and function of parts of brain)
Cranial Nerve Boogie (function and tests of cranial nerves)

Skeletal System

Below you will find the following creative activities to enhance instruction of the Skeletal System.  Items with an asterisk are short and could easily be incorporated into class.

1) Hey Macarena!* – dancing your way through the skeletal nomenclature
2) Bone composition demo* – Don’t be a chicken
3) Pasta Man / Woman
4) Bones as tools*
5) Articulate the Gross – learning from injuries
6) Skeletal Healing
7) Musical bone learning*

1) Hey Macarena
Create a version of the Macarena where you touch parts of your body and name them, be it muscles / bones / or organs.  Reaching for both kidneys at the same time also gives one the opportunity to do the chicken dance.  You’ll need an outgoing student to get the ball rolling with this one : )

2) Bone composition Demo
Start 2 classes with a short demo of the rubber chicken bone trick where you place a clean chicken leg bone in a glass container of vinegar for 4 or more days.  Then demonstrate that the acid in the vinegar has removed the calcium leaving behind soft flexible bone tissue.

3) Pasta Man/Woman
Students should choose a different kind of pasta for the different categories of bones.
For example: penne pasta for long bones, macaroni for sesamoid bones and broken lasagna noodles for flat bones. Students can then glue them on a page or poster board in the shape of a human body and label the bones.

Students can really use any household objects for this project. Remind them that the more thought they put into their choices to represent certain bones, the more they will learn as they do the project.

4) Bones as tools
Where would we be as a species without tools made from bones?  What would an intelligent predator or human do with our bones?  (Think, “Planet of the Apes”) Okay, this is a little sci-fi, but what the heck.  It might engage some students.

Offer this list of implements and have students decide which human bone(s) would be best suited to make those implements or any others they can think of.  The student will obviously have to consider shape of the bone but make sure to require that students also identify where the bone is located.
The list :
salad tongs
Crow bar
Scraper / spatula type tool
Boat hook·

5) Articulate the Gross
Find some sports footage that demonstrates common ligament  injuries such as torn menisci, or an ACL tear.
Admittedly, care must be taken here to not make light of the pain and suffering shown in these videos:
This first one is very short and has great visual of the knee during the injury

This one has a great graphic of the knee showing ligaments and muscles and then showing a combination of footage of surgery and more graphics to show the ACL popping, the effect it has on the knee and the injury as seen by a surgeon.


Footage from sports that do not show as well but may engage more students.  The injury takes place and then about 10 seconds later a slow motion of the injury takes place.  The video continues but after the slow mo you can stop and discuss.


6) Skeletal healing: 4 activities relating to healing
A) This site offers a quick overview of the types of fractures and then gives a little quiz to take.
From WISC-Online (Univ of Wisconsin) retrieved 10/26/11
Ask students to try to identify what bone the authors could be using in the example.  Encourage students to think about more oddly shaped bones and what the various types of fractures might look like in those bones.

B) Okay, this one is not terribly academic… however, you can make it academic, and if you’re into action movies or Jackie Chan, you will also think it’s fun.  Following is a link to a quiz about injuries Jackie Chan has sustained while filming his movies – apparently he does his own stunts.  As students are taking the quiz and reading the answers, they should think about the bones, tissues, organs involved.  Think about the healing process that must take place in each instance.  If they are not sure how the healing process would work for a bone injury versus a break to skin integrity or any of the other injuries, they should look it up.  Always encourage students to re-check relevant previous material while studying / thinking.

C) Have students talk to someone who has broken a bone and ask them what the healing process was like.  Try to relate their description of how they felt to the steps involved in healing.  If it was a recent break, see if the person has an external callus and if they will let you touch it.  Look at pictures of the healing process for bone while you are talking about it.

D) Students (or you) could acquire some bones from a butcher, or a hunter and see if they can impose the different types of fractures on some long bones.  Obviously they won’t be able to reproduce an open fracture as it will be a bone without flesh, but try the others.  Understand that this process will also be different from a break inside a body because bone inside a body is living tissue with blood moving through it and wet marrow inside.
Have students discuss what is left in a dried bone?  What is missing?  What parts of the physiology of a dry bone can they identify?  If you have access to a fresh bone, can they identify more in that?

7) Update the bones songs
I have 2 songs that teach skeletal nomenclature along with a little physiology as well.  Have students write new lyrics to my bones songs and share them.  Alternatively, they can insert proper nomenclature into the old “ankle bone connected to the leg bone” song.

You can hear a clip of my bones songs, at the homepage of this site
Songs from “Groovin in the Hippocampus”:
Give Me Some Bones (bone physiology & axial skeleton)
Appendicularly Speaking (appendicular skeleton)

Muscular System

Below you will find the following activities to enhance your instruction of the muscular system.  Items with an asterisk are shorter and could easily be incorporated into class.

1) Dance the Muscle Blues Away*
2) Painted on muscles
3) Muscular artwork*
4) Photogenic muscles
5) Macarena muscles*
6) ‘Z’ line for the door.
7) Song about muscular function from “Groovin’ in the Hippocampus”*

1) Dance the Muscle Blues Away
Group the muscles from your muscle list into groups of 4 or 5.  Hand the lists out to lab groups of 2 – 4 students.  Each group must come up with a dance that uses the muscles on their card.  They must then perform the dance and shout out the muscle being used while they use it.  For added benefit, video the dances (if students will allow) and post on Blackboard – at least the ones that are correct!  Alternately you could have a contest to see which group can come up with a dance that uses the most muscles on the list – again shouting out muscle names as they use them, and perhaps having one person not dance and point to the muscles in question.

2) Painted on Muscles
Paint corresponding muscles on a T-shirt (or pair of leggings).  [Idea borrowed with permission from: Prof. Amy Meredith, Washington State University who specifically uses the muscles of respiration on the t-shirt.]

3) Muscular Artwork
Bring in pictures of artwork (paintings or sculptures) that show muscles and have the students label the picture.

4) Photogenic Muscles
Take some photographs of willing participants who offer good glimpses of muscles and label / name.

5) Macarena Muscles
Create a version of the Macarena where you touch parts of your body and name them, be it muscles / bones / or organs.  Reaching for both kidneys at the same time also gives one the opportunity to do the chicken dance.  You’ll need an outgoing student to get the ball rolling with this one : )

6) ‘Z’ Line for the door
After students have learned about the physiology of muscles, challenge them to make a list of things they can find that simulate the sliding movement of muscle fibers.  Then state how that movement is similar and different from muscles.  If they come up with a good example make sure they label and compare the parts of their example with the parts of a muscle.  Anything with some slide to it may be helpful to them.  For example,  they could see the open doors on the Starship Enterprise as the H zone and the closing of the door shows the contraction of the sarcomere.  Anything with sliding parts could encourage them to compare and contrast muscle contraction with things they find in the world or in pop culture.

7) A&P Songs
Songs from “Groovin’ in the Hippocampus”:
My Oh Myosin (muscle function)

Lymphatic System & Immunity

Below are some engaging activities / resources to help you teach about the immune system.
1) Immunity Game
2) Video a Battle
3) Edible Immunity Models
4) Song about Immunity

The following is a link to a site created by the Nobel Prize organization that includes information and a game about immunity.

Have a group of students acquire action figures from siblings or yard sales and assign roles to different action figures from a list of immune players.  You can provide different lists to different groups so that they can all learn from each other.
Students should video an action sequence in which the action figure(s) carry out the activity of their particular players in the immune system.  Students can provide alliterative names to their players and can move the players with their hands while narrating the action.  All films can be posted on BlackBoard.

Using toothpicks and edible objects, students should create models of immune system players that can stick to each other at ‘receptor sites’ (raisins on carrots or marshmallows or grapes or gummi bears, etc.)  They can explain how receptor sites work – only allowing a certain player to fit / match and then eat.

4)  Song about immunity from “Groovin in the Hippocampus”
You are always welcome to play my songs in class and share or project the lyric sheets, just don’t allow students to download the song please.  A girl’s gotta eat!
“Fight the Invader” a single about the actions of B cells and T cells.

Integumentary System

Find the following activities below to enhance learning of the integumentary system
1) Skin is not a trifling thing – edible learning
2) Histology as art
3) Integumentary Healing

1) Skin is not a trifling thing
Make trifle where you use different substances for the different layers of skin.
(Trifle is a British dessert with layers of fruit, pieces of cake, pudding, whipped cream, crumbled cookies, etc. in a glass bowl.)
You might have lab groups / study groups split up the layers of the skin.
You can have the group discuss what substances they will use for each layer and why.  In other words, they should assign an ingredient to a layer for a reason whether compositional, physical appearance, or any other reason that links the ingredient with the characteristics of a particular layer of the integument.
Then they can bring the separate layers to put together along with a poster board to place beside the dish explaining the connections between the substances and the layers of skin.

Alternately, you can bring the substances and let each group come up with their own explanation on paper that identifies and explains the layers and substances used. Trifles are traditionally made in a clear straight-sided bowl, but tall, clear plastic cups would work as well.

As always, there is a way to do this on Blackboard that does not use class time.  Students can create their ‘In-trifle-egumentaries’ in groups on their own and then take a picture of both their finished product and their explanatory poster with labels and post it to blackboard.  Students could also video someone explaining the layers as they build their trifle.

2)  HISTOLOGY as art:
Create a collage of histological pictures, labeling tissue types throughout.
The student could arrange the pictures into a shape or simply make a beautiful collage.
Websites to mine for pix:
http://www.meddean.luc.edu/lumen/MedEd/Histo/virtualhistology.htm (an incredible site that also has a helpful section on muscles w/ origin and insertion info)
http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ms/resources/anatomy/histologyimages/homepage.html (this last one has gorgeous photos)

3) Integumentary healing
The following video covers the inflammatory process – healing of damaged tissue.  The very first part is slow but hang in there because the visual of the actual process looking at a cross section of skin is very helpful.  Have students watch it twice and the second time, stop it and have them identify what they are seeing on the screen.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is more fun if students anthropomorphize the experience.  In other words, have them make characters out of the participants… for example, the white blood cells are members of a favorite sports team and the bacteria are members of the rival team.  Imagine the on-lookers cheering with the ingestion of the bad guys.  Imagine what the person would be saying if they were aware of every step of the process and could respond.  Make it funny.  Make it fun.  Then they will remember it.  This can also be done with a study partner and each person takes different parts to provide voices as they watch the animation.  These ‘sketches’ could be posted on Blackboard or shared while watching in class.

Digestive System

The following activities can be found below.
They can be done in class or suggested for study groups or individual study.  I know class time is limited, but some students might like to try the activities on their own.  A little extra credit can be very inspiring for out-of-class endeavors.

1) Make a Digestive System
2) Alternate make a digestive system
3) Diary of a Bolus
4) Rhyme Time

1) MAKE A DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. (This is written to the student)
A) Find any tubes you can lying around the house:
old inner tubes, PVC pipe, dryer vent pipe, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, rubber hose, garden hose, anything!
If you have different types of tubes, assign them to be different parts (esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon (even sections of colon and small intestine if you like), rectum.

Then label the tubes with what they are and what happens there.

B) While labeling, use one color to identify any outside input, i.e. hormones or enzymes, etc. are added at that point in the trip.

C) Use a different color to label what is extracted at that point in the trip.

D) Find other bits of junk to represent adjunct players like the liver, gall-bladder and pancreas.

E) Then have fun running boluses (marbles/ ping-pong balls, whatever will fit) through your digestive system describing the action.


A) Get hold of a marble run kit.

B) Set it up using platforms where you will be able to stop the bolus.

C) Label the various sections of your marble run as parts of the digestive system as described above.

D) When you run your ‘bolus’ through, stop it at the platforms or drop-offs and describe what is happening to the bolus.

Both exercise 1 & 2 would be more fun and a lot easier if tackled as a group. Assign a part or parts of the system to each person. They will be responsible for making the labels and bringing the tubing if doing activity #1. Get together and build it and share what you’ve learned. If someone videos the proceedings then you all can use it to study – and who knows maybe receive some credit for it!


Describe what happens to the bolus as it traverses the system in the bolus’ own words. Adding humor to this will make it more memorable.


Whenever you can, come up with rhymes that will remind you what something is or what it does.
For example:
– The bolus is almost out when it’s rollin through the colon. –
– The gall bladder matters with meals that are fatter.