What our Human Liver STEM lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Human Liver STEM explores the role that the largest solid organ in the body plays in ensuring the body functions properly. Students will discover the three main functions of the liver and how bile breaks down fat for the bloodstream. They will also learn how various organs and systems depend on each other to function correctly. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
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 milk (at least 2% fat), food coloring, dish soap, and cotton balls. You will also need to ensure students have internet access.
Options for Lesson
You will find several additional ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page. One idea is to incorporate the ancient Greek myth about Prometheus. Through the story, students can see how the liver has played a role in other cultures. You could also talk about the importance of the liver in ancient Greece as they believed it was the center of passion and regarded it as the seat of life, soul, and intelligence.
The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson and remind you what to focus on. If you want, you could teach this lesson in conjunction with others that relate to organs or body systems. The blank lines on this page are available for you to write out thoughts and ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.
HUMAN LIVER STEM LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
Introduction to the Liver
The Human Liver STEM lesson plan contains two content pages. It begins by explaining that all vertebrates (animals with a backbone) have a liver. In humans, this organ is located on the right side of the body, mostly under the bottom five ribs. It is the heaviest and largest solid organ. (The largest organ overall is technically the skin.) By the time a person reaches adulthood, their liver will be about the size of a football.
Livers are spongy organs that consist of two parts called lobes. The left lobe is much smaller than the right one. One amazing fact about this important organ is that it can regrow itself, or regenerate. If some of its tissue gets damaged somehow, it can heal itself and grow back. However, this can only happen as long as at least one-fourth of the liver is still left.
Jobs of the Liver
The liver has three main jobs: it clean blood, stores energy, and produces bile. Toxins are harmful substances in the body that usually form as the body breaks down proteins. Our liver cleans our blood by removing these toxins. It also cleans blood full of vitamins minerals from digestion. After we eat, the blood becomes saturated with vitamins and minerals when the food reaches the small intestine.
Before it disperses to the rest of the body, blood makes a stop at the liver. The liver takes that rich blood and helps process the vitamins and minerals into forms that our cells can use. Bile then takes waste back to the large intestine, where it can then be released from the body.
Another job the liver has is storing energy. The liver helps the body store carbohydrates, which are macronutrients like sugars, starches, and fiber. Such nutrients exist in food like bread, fruit, and milk. The body beaks the carbs down into glucose, a type of sugar, which is the primary fuel for our cells. The liver keeps some of these sugars in reserves in case we need an energy boost. Glucose stored in the liver is called glycogen.
Students will then learn about bile. During digestion, the body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs from food. Bile is a yellow-green digestive juice that helps the body absorb and digest fat. The liver produces the bile and stores it in the gall bladder. Eating the right types of foods and drinking plenty of water will help keep the livery healthy and strong. Exercising is likewise a great way to protect the liver from damage.
The human liver is an amazing organ that does a whole lot of good things for the body. It even makes cholesterol and helps clot blood. The lesson lists several liver-cleansing foods. These include garlic, grapefruit, spinach, chicory, arugula, avocados, walnuts, and dandelion greens.
HUMAN LIVER STEM LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Human Liver STEM lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. These worksheets will help students demonstrate what they learned throughout the lesson and reinforce the lesson concepts. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to your students.
BILE AND FAT ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
Students will work in groups and conduct an experiment to see how bile in the liver breaks down fat. They will first pour milk into a dish. Each person in the group will put a drop of food coloring in their corner of the dish. Next, students will place a cotton ball in the middle of the dish, soap side down. Then they will respond to the prompt asking them what they observed.
A table on the worksheet asks what the experiment looked like at the beginning and at the end. There are empty boxes in which students will draw pictures to represent the before and after pictures. At the end, they will explain in their own words what happened and why.
DISEASE RESEARCH PRACTICE WORKSHEET
The practice worksheet requires students to pick a disease from the list on the page and create a short presentation. The presentations should be around five minutes long. There are questions at the bottom of the page to help guide students’ research. Each students can present to the class the information they found on their chosen disease.
HUMAN LIVER STEM HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
For the homework assignment, students will read an article from The Fact Site about the liver. (If they cannot access the site for whatever reason, they can research their own eight facts to complete the assignment.) Students will write down each fact in the spaces provided. Then they will choose which one they find most interesting and explain why.
Worksheet Answer Keys
There is an answer key for the homework assignment at the end of the document. The correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare them to students’ responses. For the last prompt, however, student answers will vary. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits this page. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep this as reference for yourself when grading assignments.