Norma Duarte, 4th Grade,
Boone School
Second Semester, 2011
Understanding Human Body Systems and How They are
Like/Unlike Nonhuman and Mechanical Systems and Architecture?
INQUIRY QUESTIONS:
1. How can comparing and connecting different body systems help us understand
how the human body functions as one independent organism?
2. How can comparing and connecting works of art with human body structures and
functions help us understand other (nonhuman) structures and their functions?
3. How can modeling fundamental basic human body structures, such as the skeletal
system or the muscular system help us express our understandings of structures found
in works of art?
OBJECTIVES:

Observe and investigate the human skeletal and muscular systems and joints.

Become aware of the versatility of movement provided by an articulated skeleton.

Gain experience with the use of photographs, diagrams, and model bones to
gather information.

Compare the bones, joint and muscles in their own bodies to photographs, models
and rodent skeletons.

Develop an awareness of human bone and muscle structure and joints function and
an appreciation for the versatility of the human body.

Build mechanical models to demonstrate how muscles, joints, ligaments and
tendons are responsible for human movement.

Acquire the vocabulary associated with the human skeletal and muscle systems
and joints.

Develop the concept of system and connect it with the skeleton and muscles in
their own bodies as well as with nonhuman and mechanical systems.

Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations
through comparing and connecting, reflecting and responding.
SUMMARY:
This unit will address systems of the human body in general—how they work
independently and yet interdependently to facilitate life in the entire organism
that is the human body. Specifically, students will focus on the skeletal and
muscular systems and joints as they provide the basic structure to the human
body, providing shape, support, organ protection, and movement.
1
Students will investigate the human skeletal and muscular systems and joints to
understand their roles in the structure of the human body. They will compare
human systems to works of art to seek out and reflect on relationships between
them. Working in groups of 3-5, students they will respond to works of art by
writing and acting out their own interpretations of connections they see
between them.
Students will compare the human body to a machine, a house, and other
objects of their own choice. They will question the different ways these
relationship can be established and make concrete comparisons between
them and particular human body functions.
Students will compare the human body to architectural forms through graphic
organizers, collages and descriptive paragraphs.
Students will apply connecting-comparing; reflecting-responding to bone
shapes and explain what they could become.
Students will view a DVD about the barn owl and how they produce pellets.
They will read about the barn owl in addition to other informational material
about the human body.
They will respond to their reading through journal entries, writing summaries,
group and whole class discussions.
Works of art—Angry Young Machine
Time Transfixed
Whirligig
Cronopios: Florencia Pita
TIMELINE:
Approximately 5-6 weeks
2
UNDERSTANDINGS
 A system is several parts working together to do one job.

Students demonstrate an understanding of human body systems by …
o Showing connections between external body structures (our
physicality) and internal (skeletal, joint, muscular) systems and how
they help us function and survive.
o Comparing and analyzing external features and characteristics of
humans and other animals.
o Recognizing relationships/similarities between anatomical features and
their functions and nonhuman objects such architectural structures
and works of art and their functions.
o Creating Venn diagrams to compare/contrast/connect human body
systems with nonhuman systems
PART ONE: Bones
Comparing and Connecting.
Students observe specific movements of the body while jumping rope. They list
“what moves” in their partner’s body while jumping. They respond to their
observations by explaining why they are able to jump. How they believe the
system works.
They connect their findings with their own body by feeling their own bones. They
work in groups to estimate the number of bones in their own bodies.
Students observe/study skeleton photos and diagrams to obtain a more
accurate estimate of the number in the human body and the skeletal layout.
They assemble a card stock articulated skeleton without a guiding model, rather
based on their own understanding of the function of each skeletal part.
They dissect and examine an owl pellet to compare human bones to rodent
bones. Using bone sorting charts, they compare benchmark bones such as the
skull, mandible, teeth, femur, tibia fibula, and pelvis they find in their pellet to
identify animal skeletons. They select and assemble one of the skeletons. They
must explain what bones in particular helped them decide they type of animal
skeleton they found.
Part of the pellet investigation process requires that students describe (size,
shape, texture) compare (it looks/reminds me of) connect (I have
seen/read/done) reflect (how the pellet was produced, how much the owl ate,
its diet, these bones are sort of like mine) respond (yuck, it’s sterilized, cool, I
want/don’t want to do this because..) to the pellet itself and the experience).
3
In what ways are the skeletons of a rodent and a human similar? They reflect
and respond to:
 In what ways are the skeletal systems of these two species alike/different?
Why?
 What makes is necessary for each to be as it is? Why?
 What parts (if any) make the striking differences—such as hands vs. paws,
ability to walk upright vs. on all fours, teeth to bite and chew, vs. teeth and
claws to rip/tear?
Comparing Bones
How do leg bones from different animals differ? How are they alike?
PART TWO: Joints
UNDERSTANDINGS
 The place where two bones come together is called a joint.
 Articulated means jointed or joined in sections.
 An opposable thumb is positioned opposite the other fingers.
 Articulated hands with opposable thumbs are essential for performing
intricate tasks.
 The human skeleton has three basic types of joints: hinge, ball-and-socket,
and gliding. These joints allow the body to move in different ways.
o Ball and socket—can move in all directions—up, down, front and back
 Locations—shoulder and , hip
o Hinge—open and close or move back and forth
 Elbow, knee, toes, finger, and thumb
o Gliding—side-to-side, move in two directions but do not rotate
 Wrist, ankle, neck, and all others
 Joints are classified by the amount of movement they allow.
 Some joints move freely, some move a little and some never move.
Students investigate the meaning of “articulated skeleton.”—When a hard
skeleton is able to bend it is called articulated.



First, they try to locate and count the joints in their own bodies.
Second, they explore a model skeleton and with the goal of identifying the
joints more accurately.
Third, they identify joints on a diagram of a skeleton and tell what type each
is.
Students categorize the types of joints in the body and compare the movement
of mechanical devices to the function of human joints.
Students explore objects that represent joint types,
Door hinge: hinge joint—knee, elbow
Measuring spoon and mallet: ball and socket joint—hip, arm
4
Students identify joints in classroom objects and in the building, for example,
windows are examples of gliding joints; doors are examples of hinge joints; door
knobs are examples of ball and socket joints; corners are examples of
immovable (fused) joints like the joints in the skull
Looking at Thumb Joints: Students investigate the important of the opposable
thumb. They immobilize their thumbs by taping them to their index finger with
masking tape. They attempt to perform a specific set of tasks in attempt to
answer the following questions:
 How important are thumbs for doing everyday activities?
 What tasks are difficult to do without thumbs?
 Students try to hold a pencil and follow a maze; button and unbutton, zip
and unzip clothing, tie a shoe; write their name, address, and phone
number; pick up dimes.
Doing Joint Tasks: Students investigate the importance of hinge joints for doing
everyday tasks. They immobilize the hinge joints in their index and middle
fingers and their wrists by taping them to am 8 inch dowel and then attempt to
perform specific tasks such rolling a newspaper and placing a rubber band
around it; folding a letter and placing it in an envelope; cut paper with scissors;
Naming Joints: Students name joint types by applying Post-it notes to classroom
skeleton and explain how each joint type allows movement.
 What are the three main types of joints that allow movement?
Students connect the flow and “movement” of Florencia Pita’s Cronopios to the
concept of a system of joints. They discuss in groups; write descriptive
paragraphs, and present to class.
ASSESSMENT: Students demonstrate their understanding of bones and joints by
using plastic bones to construct two different animal legs—a chicken leg (two
bones) and a rodent leg (three bones),
Students observe the model bones before completing the Bone Lab Sheet
Students should notice that in the chicken leg, the tibia-fibula is larger than the
Students must apply what they have learned about bones and joints—shape of
bone is related to the joint—and figure out how the bones fit together correctly
Students must explain, illustrate and label their solutions and answer questions
on lab sheet.
5
PART THREE: Muscles
UNDERSTANDINGS
 Over 630 muscles move the human body
 Muscles can only pull (contract and relax). They do not push to push.
 Muscles usually work in pairs-one to pull in one direction and the other to pull
in the opposite direction.
 Muscles attach to bones with tissue called tendon.
 Ligaments attach bone to bone. Some ligaments serve as guides through
which tendons run.
 Muscles control so many movements in the body, that without them, we
would not be able to live.
 Muscles are voluntary—work at persons command and involuntary—work
without being “told to.”
Students observe the action of muscles that cause the body to move.
Students review lesson one when they observed each other’s body movements
while jumping rope. They discuss what made their bodies move—how their
muscles work in their bodies. They review their science notebook entries to
discuss:
 Where muscles can be found in their bodies. They feel the various
muscles in their bodies, including their jaw, lower arm, upper leg and calf
 Muscles work in pairs, not alone
 When muscles work, they contract and become harder or shorter
 Bones are pulled toward each other when a muscle contracts
 Teacher shows illustration of a leg muscle on overhead projector
 Identify tendons at ends of muscle—they attach muscles to bone.
 Students identify this muscle and tendon on their own legs and feel how it
stretches all the way out.
 Students stand on tip toes and feel how the muscle and tendons become
hard as they are stretched.
 Students try to find other working muscles in their bodies, such as their
arms, abdomen, backs, faces, etc.
ASSESSMENT: Students build operational models of leg and thumb to
demonstrate how muscles move these and other body parts
First, students build a mechanical model of a leg in order to demonstrate how
muscles move feet and legs. They use wood dowels, rubber tubes, rubber
bands, and paper clips. They are given these materials but must decide which
items represent the various parts of the leg. For example, one rubber tubing
represents the knee, while another represents the ankle; a popsicle stick
represents the foot, while the two wood dowels represent the tibia fibula and
femur. The rubber bands represent the muscles and the paper clips represent
the tendons.
6
Students simulate muscle contractions by pulling the rubber bands to make the
knee bend and move the leg.
Students build goal nets and play desk-top soccer with their leg models.
Students receive an illustration of the human body with labeled muscular
system. They now begin to identify names of muscles with muscles they have
identified in their bodies and in the leg models they built, e.g., tibialis, biceps
Students build a model of a thumb and complete a muscle response lab sheet,
Again, they identify the corresponding parts of the thumb represented by the
dowels, tubing, and string. They are introduced to the term ligaments.
They compare the movement of their own thumbs with the movement of their
models.
Key concept: Ligaments connect bone to bone
Sometimes ligaments act as guides for tendons
Students consider and free write:
 Where in nature (not animals) they might find objects (or systems) performing
the jobs/tasks of “bones, joints, muscles, tendons”?

What in nonliving things have parts that could function as muscles—what
parts in a nonliving thing allow it to move?
7
Art Focused Lesson
Angry Young Machine
PART ONE
Students compare and contrast this work of art with the human skeletal and
muscular systems.
 They work in groups to list ways to connect how the “Machine” might
function like and unlike of human body systems.
 They respond to the object by giving it two names—as it compares and as
it contrasts a system.
 Students reflect on the work by writing about and illustrating their ideas in
short descriptive paragraphs.
PART TWO: Unit Wrap-up
Students will construct a graphic organizer from construction paper. First, they
will fold the paper in half (vertically). Second, they will fold it into fourths. Third,
they will cut four slits half way up horizontally to create four flaps.
On each flap they will write one of the critical thinking concepts—compare,
connect, reflect, respond
They will choose one of the three works of art —Angry Young Machine, Time
Transfixed, or Whirligig and apply the critical thinking concepts to it. They will
illustrate their ideas and write brief statements, ideas, phrases, etc corresponding
to each critical thinking concept and the work of art.
Students will share their work with the class.
ANGRY YOUNG MACHINE
Compare
Connect
Reflect
Respond
8
René Magritte
Belgian, 1898–1967
Time Transfixed, 1938
1970.426
Frank Memkus
American, 1884-1965
Whirligig, entitled "America", c. 1938/42
1980.166
H. C. Westermann
American, 1922-1981
Angry Young Machine, 1959
9
RESEARCH: Students groups will choose a body system to research
Although the joints are not considered a body system,
for the purpose of this project, they will be referred to
as the joint system.
Students will produce a Body System Brochure that will include:
 Definition of system and parts
 Main function of system and each major part
 How the system’s function is independent yet
interdependently of other body systems
 Diagram main parts and system as a whole
 Write an “Important Poem” about their system
 Identify parallels between the body and a house
See student research guide at end.
Students will select two works of art and have one write a letter to the other
explaining how it is like a system.
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POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS LESSON FOR HIGH END DIFFERENTIATION
4. COORDINATION
 Students investigate hand and foot response time by using a falling-cup
device.
 They take turns releasing the cup and trying to move their hand (or foot) from
the path of the cup.
 Results are recorded and compared. Students repeat the coordination
investigations to evaluate the effect of practice on response time.
 Coordination is when parts work together to complete a task.
 A stimulus is something that triggers a response. A stimulus is often information
received through the senses.
 A response time is the length of time it takes for a person to respond to a
stimulus.
Students will consider the relationship between the following concepts:
Since “A stimulus is something that triggers a response.” and “A stimulus is often
information received through the senses.” They will discuss/explain why and how
this works when viewing works of art. They may write descriptive paragraphs, perform
a skit, or other response.
Students work in groups to answer: If you were to pair two works of art with the
goal of working together to perform a task, which two would you pair? Why?
What task would they perform?
11
Human Body System Research Worksheet
Group Members: ______________
_____________
_____________
_____________
______________
Our Group’s Body System is the ________________________________________________
Assignment: The job of your group is to research the body system you have been assigned. Take notes that will help you answer the
questions below about that body system. Use the internet and books to find facts. Remember to note where you get your information. You
will need it for your bibliography.
You will use the information you gather to create a brochure about the system you researched. Your brochure will include informational
paragraphs, graphics, a short rap or song, and an Important Poem. You may use other creative ideas to make your brochure interesting
and fun. Your group will present the brochure you create to the class. Use the worksheet below to guide you in your research.
EVERYONE PARTICIPATES. NO OBSERVERS!
You will be given more information about how to format your brochure after you have gathered all of the research.
What is the main function of this
system?
What are the main parts of this
system?
12
What does each part do?
How does this system affect other
body systems?
How do other body systems affect
this system?
What are some diseases of this
system?
13
How can this system be affected
by outside, environmental factors
(for example, pollution, smoking,
lack of exercise)?
What are some fun facts about this
system?
How is this system like a house?
14
Explain why and how.
If your system were part of a
house, what part of the house
would your system be?
____________________________
System
Try illustrating it your idea.
Body System
House
15
Make a connection between the
body system you researched and
one of these works of art.
Name of work of art:
____________________________
Connection:
Time Transfixed
Whirligig
Angry Young Machine
(transfixed: to shock or
terrify somebody so much
that they cannot move
ALSO, to pierce something with
a weapon or other sharp
weapon or object)
Resources (websites and print
sources used):
1. ___________________________________________________________________
2. ___________________________________________________________________
3. ___________________________________________________________________
4. ___________________________________________________________________
16
STANDARDS ADDRESSED:
Science


11.A.2e Report and display the results of individual and group investigations
12.D.2b Demonstrate and explain ways that forces cause actions and reactions (e.g., magnets attracting and repelling; objects falling,
rolling and bouncing).
Drama




25.A.2b: Understand the elements of acting, scripting, speaking, improvising, physical movement, gesture, and picturization (shape, line,
and level); the principles of conflict/resolution and theme; and the expressive characteristics of mood and dynamics
25.B.2 Understand how elements and principles combine within an art form to express ideas.
26.A.2b Describe various ways the body, mind and voice are used with acting, scripting and staging processes to create or perform
drama/theatre.
26.B.2d Demonstrate knowledge and skills to create works of visual art using problem solving, observing, designing, sketching and
constructing
Language Arts








CC.4.W.4 Production and Distribution of Writing: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are
appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards
CC.4.SL.1 Comprehension and Collaboration: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and
teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
CC.4.SL.1.a Comprehension and Collaboration: Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw
on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
CC.4.SL.4 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner,
using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
CC.4.SL.6 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and
situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
(See grade 4 Language standards 1 and 3 on page 28 for specific expectations.)
CC.4.L.3 Knowledge of Language: Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CC.4.L.3.a Knowledge of Language: Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.*
CC.4.L.3.c Knowledge of Language: Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations
where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion).
Research Standards—to follow
17
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COMPARING HUMAN BODY SYSTEMS TO NONHUMAN SYSTEMS

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