Monthly Archives: September 2015

Systems Unit – The Digestive System

Human digestive system cross section

We have two guiding, essential questions that we will be referring to throughout the exploration of our systems unit:

  • How do the components of a system interconnect?
  • What are the implications of changing a component in a system?

We have been exploring the digestive system over the past few weeks and have been modeling and testing some of the components and their functions.  Below is a video of a model the students used to demonstrate the processes of mastication and peristalsis in the mouth and esophagus:

Mastication and Peristalsis Model

It was a messy and, I hope, memorable activity that attempted to model the beginning of our digestive system.  We analyzed the model in terms of strengths and weaknesses, as well as suggesting improvements to make the model more accurate.

The students also participated in a dissection of the digestive system of a pig – very similar to our own system.  This was also an engaging, albeit smelly, activity that gave the students hands-on exposure to the components we have been investigating.  Here is a video of some of the students in action:

Digestive System Dissection

We are now working on a summative assessment activity for the digestive system – a system analogy presentation.  This assessment asks students to identify and explain an analogy for the digestive system, and create a presentation to show their analogous system.  The project will be assessed in the following ways:

  • Knowledge and Understanding (identification of the structure, function, and behavior of the system and its components as well as the connection between components)
  • Transfer of Learning (creative, accurate, and detailed representations of the system and its components)
  • Communication of Learning (rationale for the analogous system and components)
  • Organization (time management and task prioritization)

Students are encouraged to use their own format for the presentation, including paper, physical, and/or digital models.  A guiding document and the scoring rubric are located on the student website.  The project should be completed entirely in class, with the students given three class blocks to complete their presentations.  The due date is Monday, Sept. 21 for all students.