Individuals have been studying human anatomy for centuries. From the ancient Egyptians, to intellectuals living during the renaissance, to the doctors and scientists at work today, we have always been fascinated by how and why our body works the way it does. Presently, thanks to the work of all the brilliant anatomists that came before us, we now have a pretty good idea of how each system works to keep us running efficiently.
The cardiovascular system is made up the heart and the circulatory system. The heart acts as a pump that distributes blood throughout the body. When the blood enters the heart, specifically through the right atrium and the right ventricle components, it is pumped into the lungs where it becomes oxygenated. This is known as pulmonary circulation and it is important because oxygen is essential for cellular respiration. Once the blood picks up the oxygen it returns via the left atrium and left ventricle. Next, it is pumped out via the aorta and then dispersed throughout the body via the arteries and arterioles of the circulatory system, and this is called systematic circulation. Once it makes its way to its destination the oxygen poor blood is then pumped back to the heart through veins and venules, and the cycle repeats again.
At the end of the day the cardiovascular system possesses many functions. One of the most important functions is transportation, for the system is responsible for the movement of oxygen rich blood throughout the body. Another important function is the regulation of the body – or homeostasis – via both thermo and osmoregulation.
Image from mstwrkbooks.co.za/ Image from kidshealth.org
This activity addresses the From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (LS1A), and the Growth and Development of Organisms (LS1B) sections of the Next Generation Science Standards for each grade level.
PK- 3rd Grade
At this level students can be asked to talk about and discuss their current knowledge of the cardiovascular system. They can be asked to point to where their own heart, as well are other major organs, is located. They can also be questions such as, what does the heart do, and why is it such a vital organ?
4th -6th Grade
At this level more complex questions regarding the bodily systems can be asked. The students can be asked to use the supplementary models and diagrams to pick out the various structures involved in the cardiovascular system, and they can be asked to infer what they think each part (heart, veins, blood vessels, etc) does.
At this level the students will have had more life science courses, and the supplemental material can be used to ask more complex questions. The students can be asked what the main function of the cardiovascular system is, and how that system interrelates with other systems within in the body. Additionally, the students can be asked to differentiate between structures such as veins and arteries. At this level the models can also become more complex, incorporating more intricate structures.
College Level/Scientific Description
By now students will have had multiple life science courses, and some of them will have experience with biology, anatomy, and chemistry. These students’ models will be the most complex, and they can be asked questions regarding the chemistry of aerobic respiration and why the cardiovascular system is important. Additionally, these students can be asked to demonstrate how the cardiovascular system is a “loop”. Lastly, they can also be asked about their knowledge of other physiological systems, and why they are important, and how they all work together as a whole.