Adrenaline's Physiological Plight: To Take Flight or Fight!

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Objective

Students will analyze and interpret data from a flight or fight response model to predict a chemical and physiological response in teenagers.

Big Idea

Adrenaline is a nervous system agonist that can prepare the human body for both predictable and unpredictable physical responses.

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

    Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals across a synapse from one neuron to another or target neuron. Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress, increasing rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and preparing muscles for exertion. Once released from the adrenal gland, it stimulates the signaling systems of neurons in the sympathetic nervous system that subsequently triggers the neurons therein to execute a conservative set of cyclic activities which include: a) the induction of a response in the receiving cell, b) re-absorption into the dispensing cell and/or c) processing by specialized proteins to ascertain adequate levels of the neurotransmitter for subsequent potentials. The overall goal is to evoke an excitatory response of its receiving cells in the SNS. In this lesson, students engage in various mini labs and extract meaning from readings to develop an appreciation for this agent that is technically defined as a neurotransmitter. They learn to reconcile the criteria for being a neurotransmitter with the actions of this hormone to better understand why it too is generally classified as a neurotransmitter. 

Prerequisite Knowledge: It is recommended that students be familiar with the structure and function of a neuron, the concept of neurotransmission, acetylcholine's function in the body (reference Acetylcholine lesson) and the action potential mechanism. 

Lesson Preparations:

 In the effort to prepare for this lesson, I make certain that I have the following items in place: 

a) A class set of Life Science Learning Center Fear Body Alert Lab (1 lab per student pair) Teacher Version   Student Version

b) Student lab books.

c) Timers for each student and student excess to BYOT (Bring your own technology)

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

XC-CE-MS-2. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Standards Rationale:

      Modeling is the process by which scientists represent ideas about the natural world to each other, and then collaboratively make changes to these representations over time in response to new evidence and understandings. It is intimately connected to other scientific processes (asking questions, communicating information, etc.) and improves students ability to recall scientific jargon through association. In the classroom, it is important that teachers engage students in modeling practices, to set the foundation of success in a lesson or instructional unit. In this lesson modeling is used in concert with other science practices in the classroom to promote students’ reasoning and understanding of core science idea presented (mechanisms of maintaining homeostasis of the nervous via adrenaline's interaction with the nervous system and its consequential transmission and activity).

Engage

10 minutes

Section Primer: 

        The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. It is a reaction catapulted by the release of adrenaline or epinephrine from the adrenal glands (atop the kidneys) and effects several bodily systems including the sympathetic nervous system. As such, it is generally considered a nervous system response and its hormonal agent of action, a neurotransmitter. 

Section Sequence:

           In this section of the lesson, my goals are to solicit baseline data on students' heart rates or pulses to use in subsequent mini labs/demonstrations and to introduce students to the flight or fight response. This activity proceeds as follows:

a) Slide 1: Share with students that today that they will engage in few learning experiences that will require for them to serve as subjects and in order to make these investigations more scientifically viable, we will need to collect some intial baseline data. Then direct students attention to the screen and guide them through the pulse data collection procedures. 

b) Share with students that you are going to play a video to see how they respond biologically to it. Instruct students to take their pulse 1 time immediately after the video is over and record their data in their lab books. Proceed to play the first 10 seconds of the following video:

       

c) Solicit student volunteers to share the differences in their data if any, and to offer an explanation of their data. Prompt students to make predictions for why the change occurred. 

d) Post discussion, play the remainder of the video and instruct students to record a modified version of their predictions or explanations of their data based on the science presented in the video. Then verbally share out as a class. 

Standards Covered:

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

XC-CE-MS-2. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Explore

30 minutes

Section Sequence: 

     In this section of the lesson, the idea is to give students a set of experiences that will help them to develop an appreciation for the chemical basis of the flight or fight response. As students will learn, the chemical agent unlike everything else studied in this unit, is not by criteria (lesson 1 of the unit), a neurotransmitter. This information will set the stage for students to think critically about adrenaline's role in the nervous system. 

a) Slide 2: Share with students that they are going to explore the chemical basis of the reactions that they just experienced and proceed to guide them through the directions on the screen. (Fear Body Alert Lab)

b) Post lab, proceed with the discussion question listed after step 3 with the class. Encourage students to use their data from the lab to contribute to the discussion. 

Standards Covered:

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

XC-CE-MS-2. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Explain

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

     In this section of the lesson, the overall goal is for students to discover through text interactions, how the hormone adrenaline and the flight or fight response are generally associated with the nervous system. This activity proceeds as follows: 

a) Slide 3: Read and guide students through the tasks outlined on the slide. In step three, direct students to the Acetylcholine lesson if they have trouble accessing the information mentally to address the discussion question. In step four, direct students to refer back to their notes on neurotransmitter criteria to explain why adrenaline is not defined as a Nt but is suggested to be one based on the activity witnessed and outlined in this lab.

b) Slide 4: Use the context within the diagram to explain the molecular events involving reception of adrenaline with the nerve cells of the SNS. Connect the downstream effects to some of the data and responses that students witnessed earlier in the engagement activity. During the explanation, students should be instructed to illustrate the molecular events and or produce a written summary of these events in their lab books. 

Standards Covered: 

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

XC-CE-MS-2. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Extend

30 minutes

Section Sequence:

     In this section of the lesson, my goal is to demonstrate to students the short term and long term effects of their everyday activities like interacting with social networks. Although seemingly leisure these interactions can trigger the stress response in students on a regular basis. This biological activity in repeated episodes can have long lasting effects such as what is referred to as "Amygdala Highjacking". Students, post investigation learn about the negative effects of this response, and thus to repeated interaction with social media. This activity proceeds as follows:

a) Slide 5: Guide students through the tasks outlined on the slide. (See student work examples below)

b) Post investigation, share with students that while the data today may seem isolated and harmless, triggering the flight or fight response can have long term consequences as well. Play the following video and discuss students reactions and thoughts about their daily actions as it relates to the information in the video. Guide students to articulate some of their thoughts within the flight or fight/adrenaline context. 

                

Standards Covered:

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

XC-CE-MS-2. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Evaluate

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Distribute a Fear Body Alert Quiz to each student and instruct them to complete it independent of their notes and lab partners. Collect as students exit tickets. 

Note: As an alternative, students can be presented with the option to reflect on the overarching concepts that the lab experiences encountered throughout were trying to convey. More specifically, prompt them to provide some insight on how acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter and adrenaline, a hormone impacts the nervous system similarly although it contradicts the idea that neurotransmitters are generally the agonist of the nervous system. 

Standards Covered:

XC-CE-MS-2