Thursday, September 3, 2009

Easy Digestive System Project with Ms. Wise & Ms. Otherwise

Princess and I were supposed to do a couple lessons today on the digestive tract that involved a project that seemed like more trouble and expense than I wanted to go through. Here's my easier modification...

First, gather some supplies. We grabbed markers, a paper plate, yarn, scissors, tape, glue, toilet paper rolls, straws, etc. We talked about the digestive system as we built our girl. Let's call her "Hilda".

Assemble: Princess added yarn hair to a paper plate after I had cut a hole out for the mouth. She then added eyes and nose and glued on some lips.

Teach: Digestion starts in the mouth where our teeth grind up the food into smaller bits and saliva is added to the food.

Assemble: At the back of the mouth, with tape we attached two toilet paper rolls. I inserted part of one into the other to make it a longer pipe. (Probably would be easier to just use a paper towel roll!) I cut a small hole in the top of the upper tp roll and made sure that lined up with the hole for the mouth.

Teach: When we swallow, food goes down the esophagus. The extra liquid from the saliva helps it to slide down easily. Teach: When the food slides down the esophagus, then it winds up in the stomach. In the stomach, more liquid is added to the food and the stomach squishes and sloshes it up into small bits.

Assemble: Use a zippy bag and add to it things like peanut butter, crackers, honey and other things that will break up easily. Princess had fun squishing and smashing the "stomach" bag. We then attached it to the esophagus.

Teach: When the food leaves the stomach, it enters the small intestine. The average small intestine is 3 times longer than a person is tall. More liquids enter at this stage from the pancreas and liver to help break down the food further. When the food has been broken down into microscopic pieces, it leaves the intestine through the blood vessels as energy that goes to all the body.

Assemble: We grabbed what bendy straws we had and twisted them this way and that way in an attempt to make it seem like the small intestine. Since we didn't have enough straws, we also used a few scraps of paper. We put a graham cracker in place for the liver and a lollipop for the pancreas. Little black licorice with many tiny holes are what we used for the blood vessels.

Teach: Not all of the food gets turned in to energy we can use. What is leftover is waste. The waste then travels on to the large intestine where it stays until ready to exit the body. The large intestine is bigger around than the small intestine, but it is only 4 to5 feet long.

Assemble: For the large intestine, we used a large, fat, green straw.
So here is the final product. I only wish we could have curled the small intestine around better. We had fun and we learned all about the digestive system in a way that made it easy to remember.
And, of course the beauty of this type of science experiment is that you get to eat the parts you want afterward! Chubby had to get in on the action too, you see. :) {Notice how cultured and refined Princess looks as she gracefully points her pinky finger while eating the graham cracker. lol}
One other fun science thing we recently did was to put some cytoplasm (jello) into a cell membrane (zippy bag) and then pressed a nucleus (cherry) into the center of the cytoplasm. This was a cool way to learn about the structure of a cell.


Mamma Christine said...

How fun!! My kids would love that.

Twisted Cinderella said...

That is a really cool project!