Chemistry of the Body


Chemistry of the Body introduces students to several of the elements that make up the human body. Students will discover the uses of these chemicals and why they are necessary. They will also learn how much of each chemical their body has. 

The Options for Lesson section lists several suggestions for additional activities or tasks to add to the lesson. One such option is to have students research the foods that contain the chemicals their bodies need. Another idea is to invite a doctor or other professional to speak with the class about the subject.

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What our Chemistry of the Body lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Chemistry of the Body teaches students about the main elements within the human body. Students will learn how much of each chemical, such as oxygen or nitrogen, their bodies contain. They will also discover how the body uses these different elements and what would happen if they didn’t have them. This lesson is for students in 5th grade and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The only other supplies you will need for this lesson in addition to copies of the worksheets are colored paper and possibly butcher paper.

Options for Lesson

There are many suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section that you can incorporate into the lesson plan. A few of them relate specifically to the activity portion of the lesson. You may want students to work in pairs for the activity, especially if you are going to use the larger butcher paper. In addition, if you use butcher paper, you might have students add more information about each element since there is more space. Another option is the obtain a mannequin and paint the outside different colors to represent the percentage of elements in the body. You could assign students a specific chemical to research and later present to the class. Students could also research foods that contain the chemicals and elements the body needs. Another idea is to invite a doctor or other professional to speak to the class and answer questions they have. One more idea is to have students research the current cost of the 11 elements that the content pages list.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information or guidance for the lesson plan. It suggests teaching this lesson in conjunction with others that have to do with the human body or with chemistry. You can use the blank lines to write any ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.


Your Body

The Chemistry of the Body lesson plan has four pages of content. The lesson starts off explaining how students can likely describe the basic parts of their body. These components are both on the outside, such as legs and arms, and on the inside, such as the heart and the brain. All these parts work together with the food and water they consume so that they can keep moving, thinking, playing, and living.

Students will learn that everything on Earth comprises one or more chemicals or elements from the Periodic Table of Elements. This is true whether or not something is living or non-living. Table salt, for example, is a combination of sodium and chlorine. The chemical in a ballon that makes it float into the air is the gas helium. And, of course, the air we breathe contains oxygen, which we need to survive.

Everything is made up of chemicals, including the human body. If it were possible to buy the chemical that make up the body, it would cost about $160 or less. Some estimates even place that number as low as $5. Even if it were possible to obtain these chemicals, it would be really hard to combine them to create a human.

In total, there are 92 elements on the Periodic Table that exist naturally. The human body contains about 60 of those! Roughly 96% of the body, however, includes just four elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Trace elements of other chemicals make up the remaining 4% of the body. Nearly all of these chemical serve a purpose, either as single elements or when combined with other chemicals to form compounds.

Chemistry of the Body

Students will likely be familiar with most of the chemicals in their bodies, especially the top four. Around 60% of the body is hydrogen and oxygen. This is part of the reason it’s so important to stay hydrated. After all, hydrogen and oxygen are the two elements that create water. Without water, we would not be able to survive for very long.

The lesson displays a chart to outlines the percentage of the body that contains the top 11 elements. The percent figures are based off of body weight. A body that weights 100 pounds would contain around 65% oxygen. The chart also lists what that element or chemical does for the body. Carbon, for instance, is the basis of organic chemistry. Every molecule in the body contains carbon. This element assists with metabolism, and the body releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide when we breathe.

Another element is nitrogen. Nitrogen resides in the lungs, and we breathe it in when we breathe in air. The body also absorbs nitrogen through the food we eat. It is a component of amino acids, parts of DNA and RNA, and other molecules. Calcium is in the bones and teeth, and it helps with the structure of the body. The body uses calcium primarily for muscle contraction and protein regulation.

Many students will likely know about potassium, which makes up about 0.25% of the body. Potassium helps regulate the heartbeat and electrical impulses. And all cells require potassium to function. Chlorine helps transport enzymes and supplies energy for biochemical reactions. It helps with digestion and is found in the stomach.


Many elements in our bodies join to create compounds. Water is the most abundant compound, and it lives in and between cells. The blood and fluid in the brain and spinal cord is actually mostly water. Fat is another compound, and many elements combine to create fats. The percentage varies from person to person. Some fats are good for the body, and others are bad.

The body also needs proteins. Elements join together to make proteins that help parts of the body like the heart, which is mostly muscle. Hair, fingernails, and skin also contain protein. Minerals are likewise important. The body contains roughly 6% of minerals that include salts and metals. Five common minerals are sodium, chlorine, calcium, potassium, and iron.

One of the other main compounds is carbohydrates, or carbs. Carbs provide energy and help with weight control. They only account for about 1% of the body’s mass, but they are made up of several elements. The chemistry of the body can seem pretty complex. But these “ingredients” include mostly common chemicals.

Putting all these chemicals together, however, is complex. The human body is a complex machine full of chemicals. Adding excess chemicals, such as drugs and alcohol, or even too much of the wrong foods, can cause problems for our machines. Exercise and a good diet will most often help keep the body strong and healthy.

The lesson also explains a cool fact about a recent discovery. For many centuries, scientists used to believe that stardust was the key to understanding how the universe began. Recently, they discovered that not only does stardust contain information about the universe’s origins, but it also contains evidence of how humans connect with it. In other words, you could say that humans are made of stardust!


The Chemistry of the Body lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help reinforce students’ grasp of the lesson material. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page, which describes when to hand out each task to the students.


This worksheet displays a picture of the outline of a body. Students will review the list of chemicals and their percentages in the box on the left. They must then shade in the outline proportionately, using a different color for each element. It can be difficult to be exact, but they should try to be as accurate as possible. They will also need to label which color corresponds to each element.


The practice worksheet has two sections. The first section requires students to read 10 descriptions. They must match the description to the correct chemical from the list in the word bank. For the second section, students will name which compound corresponds to 20 facts. The compound choices are water (W), fat (F), protein (P), mineral (M), or carbohydrate (C).


Similar to the practice worksheet, the homework assignment splits into two parts. For the first part, students will decide whether 10 statements are true (T) or false (F). The section sections requires them to imagine that scientists could build a body in the same way a baker can create a cake using a detailed recipe. Students will write out a recipe for the human body, and they will need to be creative.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last three pages of the document are answer keys for the worksheets. The answers for the practice and homework worksheets are in red to make it easy to compare students’ responses to the correct answers. The prompt at the end of the homework assignment will be unique to every student. Students’ pictures for the activity worksheet will also vary. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


5th Grade, 6th Grade



State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Louise F.

Great resource

Clear and easy to understand and use. Just the right level for my class. A fun activity with depth. I used it in an intro to chem class with a dia de los muertos theme

Susan B.

Chemistry of the body

I am a huge fan of Clarendon! Their material is straightforward, clear and concise. They have prepared the lesson, have an in-class worksheet and even homework for the evening (with an answers key) I'm thrilled that this is a great "free" on-line resource for teachers. I absolutely recommend them to all of my collegues. Thank you Clarendon for helping us teachers!!!

Jeannie K.

Chemistry of the Body

This particular item was perfect for providing the information I needed to elaborate on while I was presenting this unit to my students. I will definitely add this piece to my toolbox