Skeletal System - Structure and Function

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SWBAT identify structure and function of skeletal system.

Big Idea

Skeletal system is a living system that depends on a subsystem of cells and tissues to function.


10 minutes

To engage students I conduct a chicken bone demonstration written by UT Health Science Center.  In this demonstration I have students observe two bones that have received two different treatments:

1) Soaked in vinegar  

2) Baked

It's important that you plan ahead of time since the vinegar treatment takes about a week of soaking to obtain the desired outcome.  I have included a video of the vinegar treatment that you may show if time is of the essence as well as a picture of how bones look after both treatments.

After the demonstration students investigate:

  1. Let the students handle the bones and discuss the differences between them.

  2. Tap the bones on the table. Be careful with the brittle bone that has been in the oven - it is likely to shatter when hit on the table.

  3. Discuss with students that bone is made up of two very important chemical groups:

    (a) mineral, calcium phosphate (calcium and phosphorus), and (b) the proteins (elastin and collagen). These chemicals are obtained from the foods we eat, and are responsible for the firmness and durability of bone. 

Normally, the minerals in our bones do not dissolve completely away, but they do become less able to maintain their density in bone structure as we age. If we have provided our bodies with enough calcium in our diets as we are growing up (in childhood and early adulthood), we hope to have enough stored in our bones to keep them in good shape as we age. 


20 minutes

In the explore part of the lesson I have students visit KidsHealth (SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest).  In this website students explore the following topic pertaining bones: 

1) Structure of Bones

2)  Bone Growth

3)  Major Types of Bone

4) Joints

5) Taking Care of Bones

One strategy that I use to maximize time is to jigsaw the reading and have students present their individual findings to their group.  I divide the five sections of text among four students since I have four students per cooperative group.  My students are designated by #1-4.  The assignments are as follows:

Student #1 - Structure of Bones/Bone Growth

Student #2 - Major Types of Bones

Student #3 - Joints

Student #4 - Taking Care of Bones

Each students is responsible for identifying and writing five important facts that they will share with the rest of the team.  Once all four students have reported their findings, the team creates a summary of the entire text.  The summary may be a combination of text and pictures that represent the main ideas.


10 minutes

In the next section of lesson I have students take Cornell notes using the Cornell System format on a skeletal system powerpoint.  The Cornell Note system is a school wide strategy that my school uses due to its effectiveness in having students interact with their notes and ultimately use them as a valuable learning tool.  I have included Rationale Cornell Note System which is a powerpoint that introduces Cornell notes and the reasoning behind its use.

The skeletal system powerpoint explains in greater detail the structure and function of the skeletal system including the the type of cells and tissues that make up the system. (CCC - Structure and Function -In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions.).  I want to continually emphasize that cells are the basic building blocks of structure and function in living things and that all body systems including the skeletal system is composed by a subsystem of cells that work together to form tissues, organs, and ultimately organ systems and organisms. (MS-LS1-3/CCC - Systems and System Models - Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems.)


10 minutes

In this section of lesson, students delve deeper into content by visiting Human Skeletal System on cK-12 and the Human Skeleton / Human Skeletal System on Get Body Smart.  

1)  In using the cK-12 resource, students are required to read text (RST7-1) about the human skeletal system, and in particular, bone structure and function.  This reinforces what they learned during the explore stage of lesson.

After completing the reading activity students are assigned to answer the following questions:

  1. Are bones a living organ?
  2. What are the three components of the skeletal system?
  3. List four functions of the skeletal system.
  4. Name and describe the two types of tissue that make up a bone.

2) In Get Body Smart students are introduced to both the axial and appendicular skeleton. In addition, students are able to take a quiz at the end of activity.

After completing the activity, students answer the following questions:

  1. What makes up the axial skeleton? What makes up the appendicular skeleton?
  2. What is the scapula commonly known as? What other bone helps the scapula function? What do these two bones do?
  3. How many thoracic vertebrae do humans have? Where are they located in the spinal column?
  4. To which type of vertebrae do ribs attach?
  5. What is the atlas bone? What is the role of this bone? 


5 minutes

To evaluate student mastery of our lesson objective (the skeletal system is a living system composed of specialized cell and tissues), I have students complete the following exit slip.  This exit slip requires students to make a claim using evidence along with reasoning. (W.7.1 & SP7). 

Students are able to use CER Graphic Organizer and Transition Words to support them in their writing.(Click Here for Lesson on Writing Evidence Based Arguments)