Learning about the human body and how each part functions can be an exciting experience for your students if you think outside the box. Use hands-on projects to get your students motivated about learning human anatomy. Choose a project aimed at the age group you are trying to impact.
Since this will be the first anatomy lesson for most of the kindergartners, start with the basics; the human heart. Have each student place his hand over his chest and try to find his own heartbeat. Discuss the size and location of the human heart. Explain how the heart pumps blood and oxygen throughout our bodies and how this enables us the be alive. Have each student draw a picture of what she thinks the human heart looks like.
Teach your students how air moves in and out of the human lung. You will need a 1-liter plastic bottle, two 15-inch balloons, scissors, two rubber bands and a watch with a second hand. Cut the bottle in half (horizontally) and place one of the balloons through the opening of the bottle. Stretch the balloon opening over the bottle opening and place a rubber band over the balloon to keep it in place. Cut the neck off the other balloon and stretch this balloon across the bottom of the bottle. Hold the balloon in place with another rubber band. Using a watch with a second hand record the breathing rate of a human. Push down on the balloon and demonstrate how a lung contracts and expands to push and pull air into itself.
Middle School Students
The first thing you will need for this project is a tooth. If you or one of your students has a baby tooth he can bring that will work. You will also need a mason jar and a can of soda. Allow the students to examine the tooth and perhaps even take a picture of the tooth and hang it up in the class. Pour the soda into the mason jar and place the tooth in. Let the tooth sit for a week or two and then remove to examine. Allow the students to observe how carbonated sugary beverages can wear away the tooth's enamel. You can repeat this step as many times as you want.
High School Students
Plan a field trip to a medical school or university that has cadavers. Most institutions welcome visiting students for a small fee or sometimes for free. This allows the students to examine close up and personal the organs of the human body and what they really look like. According to Chris Hubbard, a professor at Northern Illinois University, "Students at the high schools flock to get into these courses. They think it's cool." Have the students write a report afterward about what part of the experience they found most fascinating.
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