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Grades 6 - 8


Pulsing through our veins, blood is a river of life. The study of the circulatory system and the components of blood is an exciting section of biology. For complete comprehension, students have to explore the composition and function of blood through a variety of media and hands-on experiences. This lesson continuously changes the stimulus presented from discussion to video to hands-on to text and analysis. The lesson is intended as an introduction to blood and the circulatory system.

Plan three to four 45-minutes periods to complete this lesson. The lesson could easily be expanded to a full week's unit.
ITV Series
Our Human Body From Science Source: "What is Blood?"
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Per class:

Per student group:

Per student:
Pre-Viewing Activities
The day before you begin this lesson, ask students to find out their blood type. Parents usually have this information on medical records at home. You want the complete blood type, one or two letters followed by a + or - sign.

Just before you begin the lesson, make a red mark on the inside of your hands, on the palm. Make sure no one sees you do it. Keep your hand closed. Get the attention of the class, then walk over to your desk and place the marked handout it, as if you wanted to lean on it. Yell OUCH!" and very quickly show the red mark. Ask the class to say what just happened. What is the red stuff called?

Once they have answered blood...reassure them by showing them that you only have a red mark, not real blood.

Ask the students what they know about blood. Accept all answers and post them on the board.

Distribute the My Heart' worksheet. Ask students to write their blood type in the box provided with a PENCIL.

Begin a discussion about the heart by asking the students what organ pumps blood around the body. Ask them to put their hand over their heart. Be sure they place their hands over the center of their chest just towards the left side. How big is your heart? Ask each student to make a fist. This is the approximate size of your heart. How many times does your heart beat in a minute? Let the students guess and then direct them to check their pulse.

A pulse can be found by putting the hand flat on the chest over the heart; by placing two fingers on the side of the neck, just beneath the jaw, directly below the ear; or by placing the index and middle finger against the inside of the writs on the depression found on the thumb side. (Bit of pressure must be used to feel the pulse here). Let each student find a pulse and then begin counting for 20 seconds on your command. Use the worksheet to compute the math and determine the heartbeats per minutes, etc. To show variation in heartbeat, ask the students to 3-4 pushups or other exercises and take their pulse again.
Focus Viewing
Distribute the Focus for Viewing handout, worksheet #2 and allow students time to review the sheet. To give students a specific task to focus their attention while viewing, tell them to complete the worksheet as they view the video. (Some of the information requested is not in the video, but this will keep them alert.)
MUTE the volume on the monitor. CUE the tape to the end of the opening sequence as the title of this segment comes up: "What is Blood?" PLAY and PAUSE when you see a drop of blood from a pricked finger. Ask the students what they see. Ask them to name the blood vessels. List arteries, veins and capillaries. To continue the focus, tell the students to watch for these vessels explained in the next segment; they should also find some of the answers for the worksheet. PLAY and adjust the volume so that the video is audible. PAUSE when the video shows a graphic chart of the "Jobs of Blood." Take time to review the information covered so far and to answer any questions.

PLAY and PAUSE after the man-ion-barrel segment when "98.7 degrees" appears on the screen. Ask the students at what temperature water boils. (100 C or 212 F) Point out that although blood is warm...it is not hot. Ask the students what they see int he test tube. Point out that there is a liquid and solid part distinguishable in the tube. Direct their attention to the worksheets; this is the part that provides most of the information hey need to complete the assignment.

PLAY and PAUSE just after the narrator says the lifetime for red cells and repeats: "red cells live 50-100 days." This will reinforce the information required on the worksheet. PLAY and PAUSE on the next Sci-Fax question. Ask students for predictions. PLAY and PAUSE on the video depicting white cells. Ask the students to notice and draw the shape of the white cells in the appropriate box on their worksheet. PLAY and PAUSE on the platelets when the narrator says, "Platelets live 1-2 days." Allow students time to fill in their worksheets. PLAY and PAUSE on "Jobs of Blood" Chart. Review this aloud. Distribute the MATCH GAME worksheet #3. To continue the students' focus, direct their attention to the worksheet and explain that the next video segment will serve as an introduction to blood types. PLAY through segment on blood types and Rh factor. STOP before the BLOOD TYPE chart appears. The chart is outdated and incorrect; DO NOT USE IT.

Refer back to the list on the board for review. Invite students to correct and add to the list.
Jobs of Blood Game
In student groups of 2-3, ask students to complete their worksheets. They should have all the answers complete on worksheet #2 and with enough time working together, be able to complete worksheet #3.

In large groups of 4-6, ask students to role-play the JOBS OF BLOOD. Distribute the balloons, dry cleaning bag, markers, cardboard platelets and poster board. For each group, blow up the red balloon until it is 2-3 ft. In diameter. This is a red blood cell. Blow up the small balloon until it is just 1" ... this is the nucleus of the white cell. Draw squiggles on the nucleus and enclose it in a slightly inflated dry cleaning bag. Seal both ends of the bag with only 1/3 of its possible volume so that it is able to fold onto itself easily. Create posters that say:



(And on the reverse, I'M SICK)

COLD (and on the reverse, HOT - need two of these cards)




Take three students and place them side-by-side with their arms over each other's shoulders (Greek dance-style). Make sure there is no more than a 10-inch space between each student. These students are simulating a capillary wall, with small holes to allow gasses and white blood cells through; the red cells cannot go through but can still exchange (like a prison cell). Place a serious student behind the wall. S/he is a living cell of the body. Name the cell LAM for left arm muscle. Give the waste, cold/hot, ok/sick, ouch! and hungry posters to LAM cell. Place the remaining cards on the other side of the "wall."

The remaining students in the group should assist the demonstration by reading the scripts and directing the action. Distribute the scripts. Normally, this game is played in a pool of plasma, but since forgot our wetsuits, here we go...

When each group thinks they have a handle on the script, ask them to perform for the class.

Train Crash Game
Divide the class into three large groups. Distribute two index cards and a mailing label to each student, ask them to write their blood type on each card and on the label. Peel the label off and wear it.

Inform the class that there has been a train crash and all the students in group A have been wounded. Group B are available blood donors, but they can only give two pints of blood each. Anyone who receives two pints of blood will definitely live, those who receive only one pint of blood will probably live, and those who do not receive any blood will die. Group C will be the medical personnel, they must coordinate the best distribution of blood resources.

Divide the wounded into groups that will live, probably live and will die. Record the results. Return the blood donor cards to their donor and try again with different assignments to each group. After you have finished this game, discuss the implications with the class. It is almost always impossible to ensure the adequate number and type of donors for all to survive. The game results are usually better when there are more "O's" in the donor group. To complicate things further, introduce the Rh factor into the game. Generally, about 15% of the population is Rh-
Develop percentage charts for the Donor Game. Use percentages of actual blood types in the general population and calculate the chances for survival for each blood type. In North American, among Caucasians, the blood types are distributed 41% A, 10% B, 4% AB and 45% O. Among African-Americans, the distribution is 26% A, 21% B, 4% AB and 49% O. Native Americans have only 5% A, 5% B, no AB and 90% O! Th- remains pretty stable at 15% across different races.

Study the cultural associations of blood as represented in art and literature through the ages. Create a time line of myth and discovery about human blood.

Read books that have the word "blood" in the ttitle or associated with the major theme. Create study groups to read a variety of Dracula books and discuss the comparative treatments of this classic dramatic subject.

Find examples of blood and bleeding in the masterpieces of art. Look for allegorical representation of hearts and blood in motifs and designs. Make a bulletin board display on this theme.

Play the MYSTERY WORD GRID provided at the end of this lesson. Once you have found every word on the list, there will be nine remaining letters that are not used. Solve the anagram of the remaining letters. Look up the definitions of each word and write a sentence that uses the word correctly in context.

Master Teacher: Francois Cote
Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting/ Plattsburgh, NY

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