Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time
1 hour, 15 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Key Concepts
Organization of cells into tissue, organ, system, and organism
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the different levels of organization (cell, tissue, organ, system) in an organism.
  • List examples of cells being organized into tissues, organs, and systems in the human body (e.g. lung cell, lung tissue, the lung, respiratory system).
  • Understand how the human respiratory system works, and how it interacts with the human circulatory system.
Credits
Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies
Picture of a respiratory system model made where a plastic bottle represents the ribcage, a straw is used as windpipe, and balloons represent the lungs.

Overview

The human body is complex! In this lesson, it is broken down into smaller, manageable parts. Students will build a lung model and discover how different parts of the respiratory system work together to make breathing possible. Next, they will discuss how this system works together with other systems in the body so oxygen can reach every cell of the body. While students perform these explorations, they will realize that multicellular organisms consist of systems, which are a collection of organs and tissues, and all of these are made of cells.

Remote Learning: This lesson plan can be adapted to work remotely. The Engage section of the lesson can be done over a video call. Then, students can make the model individually and independently using the Make a More Advanced Lung Model video as a guide. Allow the students to make a model with only one lung instead of two as joining two straws can be tricky. A set of materials can be prepared in advance, or, if students gather the materials themselves, ask for adult supervision while cutting the hard plastic bottle. Students can use the Student Worksheet to complete their exploration independently and can then share their observations and thoughts with each other, virtually. You can also use the Simple Lung Model video to help students understand the breathing mechanism shown in the model. End the lesson with a discussion over a video call during the Reflect section.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS1-3. Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Use an oral and written argument supported by evidence to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon.

Developing and Using Models. Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.

Develop a model to describe unobservable mechanisms.
LS1.A: Structure and Function. In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions.
Systems and System Models. Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems.

A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.

Structure and Function. Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.

Materials


Materials needed to create a model of the respiratory system, as explained in this STEM lesson.

Per group of 2–4 students:

  • Disposable, empty transparent bottle (10–16 fluid oz) with lid, made of hard plastic (such as a sports drink bottle)
  • Three balloons (8-inch or 6-inch balloons work well)
  • Paper or plastic drinking straw
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Teacher or another adult:

  • Utility knife
  • A few extra balloons in case one pops
  • A few extra straws

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time
1 hour, 15 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Key Concepts
Organization of cells into tissue, organ, system, and organism
Credits
Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the different levels of organization (cell, tissue, organ, system) in an organism.
  • List examples of cells being organized into tissues, organs, and systems in the human body (e.g. lung cell, lung tissue, the lung, respiratory system).
  • Understand how the human respiratory system works, and how it interacts with the human circulatory system.
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