Exocrine System STEM


Exocrine System STEM introduces students to the parts and functions of this body system. Students will learn about sweat glands and better understand how they work and why humans generate tears. They will also discover these glands function within the body as a whole.

The “Options for Lesson” section provides several additional suggestions of ideas or activities you could incorporate. One idea, for instance, is to expand the lesson by exploring the concept of how the function of these glands work with other organs to maintain homeostasis.

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What our Exocrine System STEM lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Exocrine System STEM explores the glands of the human body that produce sweat, tears, saliva, and more. Students will discover the role exocrine glands play in maintaining the body’s function. They will also learn about the different parts of a gland and how they work. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 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. This lesson requires pipe cleaners, five for each student.

Options for Lesson

There are suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page for additional activities or ideas. One option is to use this lesson in conjunction with the Learn Bright lesson on the endocrine system. (You could consider lessons on other body systems as well.) If there is time, you could also expand the lesson by going into more detail about the concept of how the function of these glands work with other organs to maintain homeostasis.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and describes what you may want to focus your teaching on. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.


What Are Glands?

The Exocrine System STEM lesson plan contains two content pages. Students will discover that this body system involves certain glands. A gland is a group of cells that work together to create and then release something into a duct (opening in the body) or the bloodstream. For example, glands are responsible for making sweat, tears, milk, saliva, and digestive juices.

There are two types of glands: endocrine and exocrine. Endocrine glands secrete substances into the bloodstream. Exocrine glands secrete substances into a duct or the skin. They include sweat glands, salivary glands, mammary glands, and digestive glands in certain organs. Some of these glands exist inside the gastrointestinal tract and in the walls of the stomach and intestines. Exocrine glands secrete water, ions, and mucins in the digestive tract. Scientists classify exocrine glands according to how they secrete substances, which substance they secrete, and the shape of the gland.

Parts and Types of Exocrine Glands

There are parts of an exocrine gland. The first part is the ductal portion, which is tubular in shape and can either be branched (compound), unbranched (simple), or coiled. The glandular portion can be tubular, acinar, or both (tubuloacinar). This portion produces the secreted substance. It is a circular cluster of cells. The type of cells in the glandular portion depends on the substance the gland secretes.

Exocrine glands fall into one of three types: holocrine, merocrine or eccrine, and apocrine. Holocrine glands are in the skin and nose, and even on the eyelids. Merocrine or eccrine glands are the sweat glands in our armpits. Finally, apocrine glands are tear glands and intestinal glands.

Our exocrine glands perform a lot of different functions, such as regulating body temperature, lactation, lubrication, and digestion of food. Examples include lacrimal glands, salivary glands, eccrine sweat glands, mammary glands, the liver, and the pancreas. Lacrimal glands are the tear ducts near each eye. Eccrine sweat glands secrete salty water (sweat) through perspiration. The liver secretes bile, and the pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the stomach.


The Exocrine System STEM lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will use pipe cleaners to make models of five gland shapes. The worksheet provides images simple images of what the glands would look like. When students finish all five, you will check off each one on the worksheet.


For the practice worksheet, students will read and respond to six questions. You can choose whether or not to allow students to use the content pages for reference to complete this assignment.


As a class, students will watch a video that explores the exocrine system. They will then write down four things they learned from the video. Next, they will circle one thing they would like to share with the family. Finally, they will put a box around one things they would want to share with the class.

Worksheet Answer Keys

There are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. The correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare them to your students’ work. Given the nature of the homework assignment, answers will vary. However, students’ responses for the practice worksheet should closely match the answer key. 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


4th Grade, 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.