Science Logic Curriculum Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Eva Varga

July 3, 2015

One of our favorite outdoor activities involves just a few materials and is both challenging and fun. With a just a compass and a map, a variety of activities and obstacles courses can be designed to accommodate everyone. It is the perfect summer activity and can be easily integrated into your science or history curriculum.

Orienteering is what is called a lifetime sport; there’s something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of age or experience. Most events provide courses for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

This post contains affiliate links.

Getting Started with the Sport of Orienteering

The history of Orienteering begins in the late 19th century in Sweden where it grew from military training in land navigation into a competitive sport for military officers. Eventually civilians caught on to the sport and the first public orienteering competition was held in Norway in 1897.

Orienteering courses can be set in any environment where an appropriate map has been made and a number of variations have been developed over the years. Some of the more intriguing variations include Night Courses, Trivia, and Relay Orienteering.

Orienteering with Kids can be a lot of fun. It is also a great confidence booster as they develop their navigational skills and can find their way through unknown territory.

To introduce kids to this wonderful sport, I have developed a simple introductory compass course activity to introduce the basics of using a compass for upper elementary and middle school students. It has been very popular with our local homeschool community and I am delighted to share it with you.

Introduction to Orienteering @EvaVarga.netIn my eBook, Introduction to Orienteering, I have included detailed instructions on the use of a compass and outlined a simple Compass Course activity to introduce kids to the sport of Orienteering. In addition, I have compiled numerous enrichment activities that incorporate the use of a compass and topographical maps.

With the Introduction to Orienteering unit study, students will develop the navigational skills and experience to feel confidant in participating in larger, community-wide Orienteering events. You can find more information about these opportunities by visiting the Orienteering USA website.

The Compass Course activity is also a part of my Earth Logic: Our Dynamic Earth curriculum, a 10 week hands-on earth science curriculum unit study on the geology of our Earth.

While the compass has not changed dramatically since it was first invented by the Chinese during the Han dynasty, many other navigational tools have been invented. We loved reading about the tools early explorers used to navigate in North Star Geography and have enjoyed using some of these tools ourselves. I have shared a few of our activities in my post, Sailing Ships & Navigation.

May 2, 2015

Soil is the part of the ground where plants grow. Soil is a mixture of tiny particles of rock and rotting plant and animal material, with water and air between them. Soils help plants grow in two ways. First, soil holds the plants into place. Second, soil contains nutrients that plants need in order to survive. These nutrients include water, phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium.

Over the course of the next few weeks, STEM Club will be investigating soil ecology as a part of the Year of Soils. I’ve shared a few of our past endeavors relating to soils here:

Soil Ecology Activities for Middle School

Cycles and Ecosystems {Free Printable}

Soils Support Urban Life: Rain Gardens & Composting

Soils Support Agriculture: Ideas to Integrate Writing

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology)

Today, I share a lesson on soil horizons and particle size.

Soil Horizons

Soil particles vary greatly in size. The largest particles settle to the bottom first. The fine particles settle slowly; some are suspended indefinitely. The amount of open space between the particles has much to do with how easily water moves through the soil. This also determines how much water the soil will hold, which has a major effect on the type of plants that can grow in the soil.

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology)

Things to look for in soil are color, texture, structure, depth, and pH. A general soil profile is made up of a litter layer, A horizon, B horizon and C horizon. A soil sampling device (pictured in the collage above) allows you to gather data on the soil makeup on any site.

Soil Particle Size

Soil scientists classify soil particles into sand, silt, and clay. Scientists use these three components and the calculated percentages on the texture triangle to determine the textural class of the soil at a given site.

A soil’s texture depends on the size of its particles and living things depend on the right texture to thrive in the soil. Every soil type is a mixture of sand (2mm – 0.05mm; feels gritty), silt (0.05 – 0.002mm; feels like flour), clay (Smaller than 0.002; feels sticky when wet), and organic matter. Squeeze some soil between your fingers. Is it crumbly? Sticky?

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology)

Let’s Get Dirty ~ Terrestrial Soils

One of the best activities to engage kids in the study of soil ecology is the sample the soils around your home or school yard. Begin by asking the following questions:

1.  Are there different types of soil near your home?

2.  What texture class is this soil?

3.  What is the particle size make-up of this soil?

The answers generated prior to the investigation are part of your hypothesis. Record your ideas in your science notebook before you begin and give reasons. Why do you suppose the soil in your yard is predominately sand? What experience or prior knowledge do you have to help you make this statement?


  • 1 Soil probe
  • 1 Metric ruler
  • 1 Quart jar with lid
  • 1 Set index cards for diagrams


  1. Use the soil probe to collect soil cores as deep as possible from a predetermined site.
  2. Diagram and measure the depth of each layer or horizon in your sample.
  3. Fill the quart jar at least half and no more than two thirds full.
  4. Fill the rest of the jar with water, seal tightly and shake vigorously for 10 minutes. Let the jar stand for 24 hrs.
  5. The next day, mark the soil layers of each sample on an index card placed behind the bottle. Mark the top of the soil and the points where the layers change. Calculate the percent of sand, silt and clay in your sample. To do this, measure the following marks you made on the card: entire height, sand (bottom) layer, silt (middle) layer, and clay (top) layer. Then take the height of each layer by the total height and multiple by 100. Record the figures on the data sheet.

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology)
Analysis of Results

  1. At which site was the soil the most sandy? silty? mostly clay?
  2. Do you think that this is a trend and would be found at other sites? Explain.
  3. What are some factors that may change the results of this experiment? Explain.


  1. Did you achieve your hypothesis? Explain.
  2. What did you learn by doing this exercise?
  3. Do you think the soil will be the same at other sites (park, forest, meadow, near the shore of a lake or river, etc.)? Design an inquiry project to learn more.

April 25, 2015

Every spring, when the weather is still yet cool, I like to take our STEM Club outdoors for more in-depth, hands-on ecology lessons. This year, to align with the International Year of Soils, we are focusing on soil ecology.

STEM Club: Cycles & Ecosystems w/free printable @EvaVarga.netAs I begin each ecology study, we review the cycles of energy and nutrients. Ecosystems are characterized by different cycles that enable organisms to survive. Plants and animals interact with each other and with their environment through these important ecosystem cycles.

  • Energy Cycle
  • Carbon and Oxygen Cycle
  • Nitrogen Cycle
  • Water Cycle
  • Disturbance Cycle

The Energy Cycle

An ecosystem is a type of community in which all of the plants and animals that live in it either feed off each other or depend upon one another in some way. Just as people interact and depend on each other in our communities. In each ecosystem, there are different feeding levels called trophic levels: primary producers (or plants) that convert energy from the sun through photosynthesis, primary consumers (herbivores), secondary consumers (animals that eat the primary consumers), tertiary consumers (animals that each both primary and secondary consumers), and decomposers that break down dead or dying matter into nutrients that can be used again by producers.

The Carbon and Oxygen Cycle

Another important cycle in an ecosystem is the carbon and oxygen cycle. Each of these elements is needed in order for plants and animals to live. Plants take in carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. They use the carbon from carbon dioxide to make food which provides matter and energy to make new plant cells. During respiration plants take in carbon dioxide, a gas they need to live, and release oxygen. Animals breathe in oxygen, a gas they need to live, and release carbon dioxide. Dead plants and animals release carbon dioxide during the decaying process. The carbon is stored as fossil fuels that include coal, gas, and oil.

The Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is a gas that makes up about 78% of the air we breathe. It is an important part of proteins and other plant and animal matter. Plants and animals cannot use nitrogen directly from the air. The nitrogen must be changed into a form that plant roots can take up and use. Certain bacteria, like lichen, are able to take nitrogen from the air and change it into a form that plants can use. The process of changing nitrogen into a form that plants can use is called nitrogen fixation. The bacteria break down the nitrogen containing tissues of dead plants and animals and change them into nitrates. Plants absorb the nitrates through their roots and release nitrogen gas back into the air.

The Water Cycle

Organisms need water to survive. The water cycle is very important in an ecosystem. The water cycle is the movement of water from the ocean to the atmosphere to land and back to the ocean. An ecosystem, especially a wetland or forest, is essential to the water cycle because it stores, releases, and filters the water as it passes through the system.

There are three steps to the water cycle:
  1. Evaporation occurs when the sun heats the water in soil, rivers, lakes, and oceans, causing it to evaporate and become water vapor, which is a gas.
  2. Condensation occurs when water vapor rises, cools, and condenses to form tiny water droplets or ice crystals in clouds.
  3. Precipitation occurs when the water falls back to earth as rain, snow, or other precipitation. Most water returns to the sea or sinks into underground water sources.

The Disturbance Cycle

A regular cycle of events including fires, floods, landslides, and storms keep every ecosystem in a constant state of change and adaptation. Although the disturbance cycle can cause  disruption, some species depend on this cycle for survival and reproduction. For example, some forests depend on fire for reproduction. The cones of the trees are sealed shut around the seed with a resin that will only dissolve under very high temperatures such as those caused by fires. Another example is flooding. Flooding, in some areas like the Nile Delta in Egypt, brings rich nutrients to the soil.


It is a delicate balance within each ecosystem. Competing for food, water, light, and other resources is how plants and animals stay in balance. This balance is called homeostasis.

If a new plant or animal is brought into an ecosystem, where it did not exist before, it competes with the existing organisms for available resources. The new plant or animal can out compete other organisms and cause them to become extinct by breaking the chain and thereby affecting other organisms that depended on the extinct organisms for food.

When an ecosystem functions smoothly, there are many benefits to people including healthy forests, streams, and wetlands which contribute to clean air and water. The survival of healthy ecosystems, however, is sometimes threatened by human activities that include deforestation, filling of wetlands, damming rivers, and polluting the air, soil, and water. Today, there are government agencies and other organizations that work to manage and protect Earth’s natural resources and ecosystems.

Bring it Home

Review the cycles of energy and nutrients with your students and ask that they illustrate each cycle. I’ve put together an interactive Ecosystem Cycles Flip Book specifically for this purpose – print this freebie and get started today!

If you are interested in more in-depth ecology activities, I encourage you to check out my curriculum materials:


Ecology Explorations is one of my favorite hands-on life science curriculum because it provides several opportunities to explore your local ecosystems. What better way to learn about ecology than to get out there, collect data, and experience the physical factors that influence the animal and plant communities first hand.

Estuary Ecology is a fourteen lesson unit study that focuses upon estuaries and salt water marshes. It incorporates a month-long moon observation project as well as a field trip to an estuary or salt marsh.

February 2, 20153

I know how much homeschoolers enjoy free printables! But as the kids get older, it is more difficult to find printables that are both educational and suitable for their age.

My mission is to provide teachers and homeschool families with the tools and inspiration to engage their students in meaningful, hands-on science. You will thereby find all sorts of printables for middle school students here, with more added all the time.

I have organized them on my Science Freebies page by category. The list also includes detailed lesson plans and powerpoint presentations in addition to printables.

Please take the time to explore the enormous collection of resources. They are just waiting to be discovered and printed.

scienceprintablesFree Science Printables for Middle School ~ Created by Me

On my Science Freebies page, the printables and lesson plans are broken down by science discipline and include service learning, citizen science, science field trips, and multidisciplinary unit studies.

The most popular printables that I have shared include:

Subscribe to My Newsletter

My recent STEM Club unit study on human anatomy has been so popular that I am now providing it as an exclusive to all new subscribers to my newsletter.

The collection includes over 15 printable pages and handouts for a middle school unit on human anatomy or human body systems.


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Free Science Printables ~ Created by Others

Free Science Printables for Younger Students


Find more free printables in all subject areas from the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

December 8, 20141

The new school year is well under way. In many science classrooms around the world, students are engaging in hands-on science experiences. Many are beginning to give thought to the annual science fair project that often takes place in the spring.

Inquiry based science fair projects are the keystone of student science fairs. They follow the scientific method rather closely and have several parts including a control and a variable.

Inquiry based science projects allow students the opportunity to become the scientist themselves, using their own observations and experiences to ask questions and form hypotheses. Ultimately students design an experiment to test their hypothesis against variables.

Independent Variable: What the scientist will be changing during the experiment
Dependent Variable: What the scientist will be measuring or observing.
Controlled Variable: What the scientist keeps the same during the experiment.

100sciencefairMany educators believe all hands-on science is inquiry science, but that is not accurate. Inquiry implies that students are in control of an important part of their own learning where they can manipulate ideas to increase understanding. As students learn to think through the designs and developments of their own inquiry, they also develop a sense of self-responsibility that transcends all subject areas.

At the elementary level, science depends on the ability to identify and accumulate facts (grammar stage), organize and analyze those facts (logic stage), interpret and theorize about the facts, and communicate those interpretations and theories to others as they move investigations into their communities and participate in solutions to science and technology issues (rhetoric stage).

The 5 features of science inquiry

  • Student Engages in Scientifically Oriented Questions
  • Student Gives Priority to Evidence in Responding to Questions
  • Student Formulates Explanations from Evidence
  • Student Connects Explanations to Scientific Knowledge
  • Student Communicates and Justifies Explanations

Although each component is important, helping students use evidence to create explanations for natural phenomena is central to science inquiry. You can reinforce the creation and critiquing of arguments in your classroom by asking, “How do you know?” Student answers (both verbal and written) should include evidence. Additionally, you should look for opportunities for students to critique the use of evidence in science news, reports and other media.

Students should practice science in the classroom the way that scientists and engineers do. Provide opportunities to work in collaborative groups to solve problems and explore challenges. Science and engineering practices should not be isolated inquiry activities, but 
permeate the entire curriculum.

Below are 100 ideas for incorporating inquiry science into you curriculum and to kick-start the planning for your science fair project.

100 Science Fair Projects

Life Science

  1. Study the conditions under which mold grows best.
  2. Figure out what is the best preservative to prevent mold growth.
  3. Do plants really respond to music? Affection? Sound?
  4. What type of fertilizer or “plant food” works best?
  5. Sugar level in plant sap at different times and dates
  6. Effect of salinity on brine shrimp or other organism
  7. Can paper chromatography be used to identify different species of plants?
  8. Study the effects of phosphates on aquatic plants.
  9. Compare organic fertilizer versus chemical fertilizer.
  10. Test the effects of heat, light, carbon dioxide, pH level, etc. on the germination rate of monocots compared to dicots.
  11. What factors affect the rate of photosynthesis (temperature, light intensity, water, carbon dioxide, part of the light spectrum, etc.)?
  12. Do the numbers and sizes of leaf stomate vary with different plants?
  13. Study the effect of light or temperature on Vitamin C content of orange juice.
  14. What are the effects of water temperature on the color of fish?
  15. Do the non-smoking sections in a restaurant protect you from second-hand smoke?
  16. Does caffeine have an effect on blood pressure?
  17. Are herbs (or essential oils) a viable alternative to modern medicines?
  18. Which is better – commercial antacids or herbal remedies?
  19. Does playing video games affect heart rate?
  20. What time of bread grows mold the fastest? Compare the buns of various fast-food restaurants.
  21. Are some types of makeup more prone to bacterial growth?
  22. Compare the rate of mold growth on different milk samples (Vitamin D fortified, 2%, 1%, RAW, etc).
  23. Study of insect of animal behaviour versus population density.
  24. Study insects’ adaptations to pesticides or availability of food. Does their body structure change over time?
  25. What is the effect of caffeine or tobacco on the growth of mealworms?

getting started cover

I have written a guidebook to inquiry science with middle school students. It is available in my store.

Earth Science

  1. Does the height of a volcano affect the viscosity of the lava?
  2. Grow a crystal garden. What factors affect the rate and size of crystal growth?
  3. Is there a relationship between sunspot cycles and earthquakes?
  4. Study the small scale wind currents around buildings.
  5. What effects the rate of evaporation the most – temperature, humidity, wind speed, or other factors?
  6. Make observations of geomorphic factors in your local area.
  7. Do the phases of the moon affect the barometric pressure?
  8. Make an instrument to test the soil and find out how compacted it is.
  9. Study the effects of solar activity on radio reception.
  10. What factors affect the slope stability of sand/gravel hillsides?
  11. What substance is best to use in blocking floodwaters?
  12. Study the impact of feed lots on the environment.
  13. How does particle size affect the porosity of soil?
  14. Explore methods of controlling erosion.
  15. Compare the erosion rates of different soil types.
  16. How does the weather affect the salinity of natural aquifers (lakes, rivers, bays, etc.)?
  17. Some intertidal animals in the low tide zone and others in high tide zones. How much time does each zone spend out of water during a tidal cycle?
  18. When are tidal height differences the greatest?
  19. Study the effect of water depth on wave velocity.
  20. Does the moisture content of soil affect the color?
  21. Can mapping earthquakes help identify fault lines?
  22. Build a simple model system to simulate underground water flow, simulate various underground conditions, and test your predictions on water flow.
  23. Which materials make the best compost?
  24. How does soil affect the pH of water?
  25. Investigate how the volume of wet sand changes under pressure.

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Physical Science

  1. Explain how trajectory affects flight distance and vice versa in paper airplanes.
  2. Explain how putting a spin on a ball affects the flight pattern. (How does a curve ball work?)
  3. Which anti-bacterial hand lotion is most effective? (Grow your own bacteria in a petri dish.)
  4. Which brand of popcorn is best? (As judged by which brand leaves the least amount of kernels unpopped.)
  5. Which stain remover works best?
  6. Analyze soil samples for their components, ability to hold moisture, fertility, and pH.
  7. Test the mineral concentrations in hard and soft water.
  8. Compare the results of a common gak or silly putty recipe using different types of glue.
  9. What types of paper decompose the most rapidly when buried?
  10. Compare the surface tension of various liquids.
  11. Study the radiation patterns from different antenna types.
  12. Do bends in fiber optic cable cause loss of audio data transmission?
  13. How does the curvature or materials of different lenses affect a light beam?
  14. Does water droplet size affect rainbow brilliance?
  15. How will the height from which an object falls affect the distance another object moves when struck?
  16. How is the density of a substance/object changed as its temperature changes?
  17. Measure your reaction time and compare it to your friends and family with this fun experiment.
  18. How does the position of a violin or guitar affect the volume?
  19. Do different businesses play different tempos in background music?
  20. Do different businesses use different air fresheners or scents to influence their customers?
  21. Determine how high a basketball bounces on different surfaces relative to the height from which it was dropped.
  22. Find out how the simple aperture design of a pinhole camera works to control the way light enters the lens of your camera.
  23. What setting of a digital camera takes the better picture of a small object?
  24. How does the shape of a bottle affect the sound when you blow across the top?
  25. Test the absorptivity of different materials (sorbents) to discover which ones are best at removing oil from water.

science fairs

I wrote a five day series earlier this year, The Ins & Outs of Science Fairs, to provide a step-by-step approach to creating a successful science fair project.

Engineering & Design

  1. How do different bridge designs affect the strength of the bridge?
  2. What is the most efficient design for a windmill?
  3. How does the weight and shape of an object affect the rate by which it sinks?
  4. Why do the inside of cars get so hot in the sun? What ways can you reduce this heat?
  5. Design and build an automatic recording weather device. Test it over a period of time.
  6. Create a 3-dimensional, free-standing marble run.
  7. Comparing insulative properties of various natural and commercial insulators. Which are the best?
  8. Which style of roof truss is the strongest?
  9. Demonstrate how an AM radio detector can be constructed out of scrap materials and explain the function of the various components.
  10. How does air pressure, materials, and construction of a ball affect its ability to bounce?
  11. Design a spaghetti noodle and mini-marshmellow tower.
  12. How much force is required to advance a lag bolt (large wood screw with a hex-shaped head) into a piece of wood? How do different types of wood compare?
  13. Is there a correlation between electric motor cooling and efficiency?
  14. What is the most efficient design for a windmill?
  15. Invent a device that can launch a pom pom or marshmallow (the farther the better).
  16. Design and construct a robotic insect.
  17. Create a Bristlebot (made from the head of a toothbrush, a battery, and a small motor) and compare the speed of different toothbrushes.
  18. Test a variety of skateboard wheels on their ability to make a 90 degree turn.
  19. How does ski wax affect the sliding friction of skis? You can model this with an ice cube sliding down a plank: how high do you need to lift the end of the plank before the ice cube starts to slide?
  20. Can you design a toy car that is powered by wind? What is the best design?
  21. Build a water clock.
  22. Can aquatic plants promote pesticide breakdown?
  23. Determine the best gear ratio for your bike, to get the highest speed after a curve and onto a straightaway.
  24. Can rooftop gardens also keep your house cooler and lower your energy bill?
  25. Investigate how changing the angle of an inclined plane affects how the Slinky walks down it. What angle will enable the Slinky to go for the best walk?


For more science resources, check out these wonderful 100 Things posts by my friends at iHomeschool Network:



This post is one of 100 posts compiled by the bloggers of iHomeschool Network, 100 Things. Be sure to visit and enter to win over $370 in cash and prizes.

November 13, 201420

As many of you know, I teach a science class for local area homeschool students that I have come to call STEM Club.  Our focus this cycle is human anatomy or human body systems.

Each week, I will be sharing with you the hands-on activities and inquiry based labs that I use with my students. If you follow along with me and do the suggested extension activities, the material covered will be equivalent to a full semester course.

This post contains affiliate links.

Getting Started – Printables

The biological levels of organization of living things arranged from the simplest to most complex are: organelle, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, organisms, populations, communities, ecosystem, and biosphere.

To review this with my STEM Club students, I created a levels of organization printable chart and asked that they complete it as homework in advance of our first class.

The purpose of this unit is to understand that there are different systems within the body and that they work independently and together to form a functioning human body. At the middle school level, students should begin to view the body as a system, in which parts do things for other parts and for the organism as a whole.

To assess the students’ prior knowledge, I distributed a black outline master of the human body and asked them to draw and label the parts of the body that they knew.

I also created an accordion style mini-book of the body systems that we will use throughout the unit. Students were asked to print it and secure it in their notebooks for easy reference and note taking throughout the course.

Lastly, they were asked to complete the vocabulary worksheet.

The FREE download link for each of these printables will be available to my newsletter subscribers.


The Human Body Systems

Integumentary System – the organ system that protects the body from various kinds of damage, such as loss of water or abrasion from outside.  Major organs include skin (epidermis, dermis, hypodermis), hair, nails, and exocrine glands.

Nervous System – consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body. Together, these organs are responsible for the control of the body and communication among its parts.

Endrocrine System – includes all of the glands of the body and the hormones produced by those glands. The glands are controlled directly by stimulation from the nervous system as well as by chemical receptors in the blood and hormones produced by other glands.

The endocrine system works alongside of the nervous system to form the control systems of the body. The nervous system provides a very fast and narrowly targeted system to turn on specific glands and muscles throughout the body. The endocrine system, on the other hand, is much slower acting, but has very widespread, long lasting, and powerful effects.

Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese is a collection of demonstrations that illustrate scientific principles about the human body. The projects are geared to 9-12 year olds and arranged by system (nervous, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, muscular, skeletal, reproductive, and integumentary).

Each project includes an introduction, a list of materials, procedural guidelines, and an explanation of the science involved. It is a great resources for hands-on activities and demonstrations. The instructions are easy to follow and include fun facts to keep kids interested.

It is definitely worth buying, even though the activities are not inquiry based, as it provides background information and vocabulary. Some of the activities in the book are too simple for even junior high but most are perfect for middle school age learners.

Skeletal System – includes all of the bones and joints in the body. Each bone is a complex living organ that is made up of many cells, protein fibers, and minerals. The skeleton acts as a scaffold by providing support and protection for the soft tissues that make up the rest of the body.

Muscular System – responsible for the movement of the human body. Attached to the bones of the skeletal system are about 700 named muscles that make up roughly half of a person’s body weight. Each of these muscles is a discrete organ constructed of skeletal muscle tissue, blood vessels, tendons, and nerves.

Digestive System – a group of organs working together to convert food into energy and basic nutrients to feed the entire body. Food passes through a long tube inside the body known as the alimentary canal or the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). The alimentary canal is made up of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and large intestines.

I highly recommend Human Anatomy Coloring Book by Margaret Matt (geared for ages 13-16).  I know what you are thinking. “A color book? Really?! ”

Yes, really.  Each detailed illustration in the Human Anatomy Coloring Book is accompanied by concise, informative text and suggestions for coloring.  Numerous views, cross-sections, and other diagrams are included for each of the body’s organs and major systems.

Combine inquiry based activities and demonstrations that illustrate scientific principle, the memorization of vocabulary, and daily practice tracing the organ systems with the aide of this book and will discover your students will not only understand how their body works but will be able to illustrate the organs as they share what they know.

For younger students (ages 3 to 11), I recommend the alternative, My First Human Body Book by Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne. It includes 28 fun and instructive, ready-to-color illustrations that explore the human body systems. The illustrations are detailed and yet simple enough to not be overwhelming.

Excretory / Urinary System – consists of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. The kidneys filter the blood to remove wastes and produce urine. The ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra together form the urinary tract, which acts as a plumbing system to drain urine from the kidneys, store it, and then release it during urination. Besides filtering and eliminating wastes from the body, the urinary system also maintains the homeostasis of water, ions, pH, blood pressure, calcium, and red blood cells.

Respiratory System – provides oxygen to the body’s cells while removing carbon dioxide, a waste product that can be lethal if allowed to accumulate. There are 3 major parts of the respiratory system: the airway, the lungs, and the muscles of respiration. The airway, which includes the nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles, carries air between the lungs and the body’s exterior.

Cardiovascular / Circulatory System – consists of the heart, blood vessels, and the approximately 5 liters of blood that the blood vessels transport. Responsible for transporting oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and cellular waste products throughout the body, the cardiovascular system is powered by the body’s hardest-working organ — the heart.

Blood and Guts by Linda Allison is written for the middle school aged student and is organized well. The author devotes a chapter to each of the following topics: skin, bones, teeth, muscles, heart, lungs, cells, digestion, kidneys, eyes, ears, balance, brain and nervous system, and reproduction. She provides a basic but informative narrative for each as well as illustrations.

Numerous hands-on activities and demonstrations are described for students to try. Most are relatively simple but some are difficult and require adult supervision; others require materials that may be difficult to find.

The book uses cartoon illustrations (as shown on the cover). I would suggest supplementing with models, more accurate drawings (the Dover Publication mentioned above, for example), and photos.

Lymphatic / Immune System – our body’s defense system against infectious pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi as well as parasitic animals and protists. The immune system works to keep these harmful agents out of the body and attacks those that manage to enter. The lymphatic system is a system of capillaries, vessels, nodes and other organs that transport a fluid called lymph from the tissues as it returns to the bloodstream. The lymphatic tissue of these organs filters and cleans the lymph of any debris, abnormal cells, or pathogens. The lymphatic system also transports fatty acids from the intestines to the circulatory system.

Reproductive System – The female reproductive system includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, vulva, mammary glands and breasts. These organs are involved in the production and transportation of gametes and the production of sex hormones. The female reproductive system also facilitates the fertilization of ova by sperm and supports the development of offspring during pregnancy and infancy.

The male reproductive system includes the scrotum, testes, spermatic ducts, sex glands, and penis. These organs work together to produce sperm, the male gamete, and the other components of semen. These organs also work together to deliver semen out of the body and into the vagina where it can fertilize egg cells to produce offspring.

Next week we will explore the integumentary system in depth. I will share a few demonstration activities as well as an inquiry science activity that tests our sense of touch, or somatosensation. You won’t want to miss it!