During the past weeks, the students have been learning about body systems. To date, we have been undergoing practical activities and laboratory work on the human digestive system, nervous system, and respiratory system. Throughout last week we have been focusing on the digestive system and the functions of the major organs within. After spending such a long period studying online it has been great to have the students back in the lab engaging in practical activities. To begin the week we used crackers to highlight the importance of saliva in digesting food.
Through this small demonstration, they were able to gain an insight into the chemical and mechanical digestive processes in the mouth. We spoke about the function of the teeth in mechanically breaking, tearing, and slicing the food into smaller pieces and the importance of the saliva in aiding swallowing and turning starch into glucose. To end the week we created a model of the whole body system. The students began modeling digestion in the mouth as they squashed and mashed food, imitating the function of the teeth. They proceeded by mixing it with water to simulate how saliva helps to make the food soft and wet. Next, the food was moved into a ziplock bag (the stomach) where it was mixed with gastric digestive juices (orange juice) until it turned into a liquid state. The contents of the bag were then placed into the small intestine which was represented by a stocking. They squeezed the liquid food to the end of the stocking showing how the nutrients pass through the walls and into the bloodstream. Finally, the remaining food was placed into a cup (colon) where the remaining water was absorbed until the waste was pushed through the cup and out of the body. The resources used during the practical activities helped the students to better understand the functions of each organ within the digestive system. The hands-on, visual nature of these modeling activities not only helped to reinforce their understanding but also provided everyone with a meaningful and fun learning opportunity. By Joe Burman