Fall SAVY 2022–Biology of the Body for Grades 5 & 6
Day 3: Saturday, November 5
Congratulations to your students on completing the SAVY Biology of the Body Course! Over the past couple of weeks, students have been introduced to numerous different systems including immune, cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological systems. We explored each of these system through the lens of physicians who take care of patients with problems to these individual systems. We were also able to try our hand at diagnosis and treatment like doctors do.
As the culmination of our three-week course, students had the opportunity to show parents, family, and friends four stations highlighting some of the work and concepts we discussed in the course. Whether it was brain and heart dissections or lung volume demos, students had a great time showcasing the advanced concepts that we covered in class.
As you all settle back into your typical weekend routine, I invite you to continue the conversation about how doctors and scientists support the biology of the body with cutting-edge discoveries. One of the ways students can continue this exploration is by doing guided dissections at home. There are numerous YouTube videos and online educational resources to purchase specimens like those in our class (linked below). Also, research patient and physician stories to add context to why and how doctors treat patients. I hope as you continue this journey through science your students are reminded of not only the “awesomeness” that is biology but the larger impact it has on the people around us and those that love them.
Candace and Jackson
Day 2: Saturday, October 29
The second session of our course saw us diving deep into cancer biology, and we were so glad to see your students engaging with the material, bringing in related ideas and experiences, and using what they learned to come up with even more questions to explore in the future. We started the day with an interactive lecture on the genetic basis of cancer, in which students learned how just a few mutations in DNA can disrupt the delicate balance of cell division. Students generated a concept map of environmental and genetic factors that could cause DNA damage, and then walked through the cell cycle to understand how these errors can give cancer an advantage over normal cells. From there, we explored how different cancers progress, and why ideas for treatment rely on a deep understanding of how each cancer is different.
For the rest of the morning, we switched gears to the cardiovascular system. We began with an interactive journey through the heart and lungs from the perspective of a single red blood cell, which allowed us to identify structures like the heart valves, chambers, and electrical system. All of these structures will be reinforced next week as the students observe a heart dissection in class. The students quickly mastered the basics of the cardiac cycle, which allowed us to delve in to pressure and volume changes in the heart, and how the cycle can be impacted by congenital or acquired conditions. To expand on this, the students helped in constructing a cardiac model from straws and plastic bottles, giving us the chance to see the physical impact of conditions like narrowed or stenotic arteries, leaky valves, or a weakened heart muscle.
In the afternoon, we returned to our discussion of the respiratory system from last week, and we were impressed with the students’ recall of normal physiology in the lungs. We worked on constructing a model of the lungs and diaphragm using plastic bottles and balloons, which allowed us to see how the function of the diaphragm drives our breathing. We used this to segue into an open discussion of a few respiratory diseases the students were familiar with, such as asthma and pneumonia.
Finally, we finished the day with a brief talk through the physical exam that a doctor might perform, focusing especially on the heart and lungs. The students brought many questions about exactly what their own pediatrician might be listening for. Students had the chance to see how a stethoscope works, listen to pre-recorded heart and lung sounds, and correlate these with the biology, anatomy, and physiology from the morning’s lectures.
For next week, we are planning several interactive activities and dissections that will expand on what we’ve learned so far. Students will have the opportunity to recap their biggest takeaways from the course, and we will suggest some resources for continued learning and building on their excitement for biology and understanding the human body. We look forward to seeing everyone back next week for more engaging questions and discussions!
Jackson and Candace
Day 1: Saturday, October 22
Your students have started to immerse themselves in the biology of the body. We have started our exploration with the immune system and respiratory system. The students began the day by making an immune system superhero that has superpowers to fight either the flu or cancer. Following a lively discussion of the immune system, we ventured into the world of the lungs and how we do one of the most important actions of life–breathing.
In our deep dives, we learned about the innate and adaptive immune system. With some fun animated videos interspersed with interesting student dialogue, we explored the individual cell types (such as neutrophils, macrophages, NK cells, T and B cells) and their functions in fighting the body’s invaders. After lunch, we enjoyed the beautiful weather with balloons and lung dialogues. We were able to see the variations in lung volumes using balloons.
Based on this week’s discussions, we will be spending time on the role of the immune system and cancer treatment. We will also round out our teaching on body systems by talking about the cardiovascular system. Students will be introduced to basic physiology principles through multiple models that recapitulate the heart and lungs. During our session yesterday, it was apparent how incredibly bright and excited the students are, and we look forward to seeing you all next week!
Candace and Jackson