Energy in the Human Body

A Middle School Life Science Curriculum
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Mary Anne Rea-Ramirez, Maria Nunez-Oviedo, John Clement

Energy in the Human Body is an exciting curriculum for grades 6-8 based on learning theory. It actively engages students and teachers in the construction of new knowledge through multiple strategies. With it, teachers take on the role of facilitator and co-constructor with your students.

Because we believe youth need and want to take responsibility for their own bodies and their health, we feel it is important to find better ways to help them construct mental models of their bodies that they can use to reason about their world. That is the purpose of this curriculum. In addition, new teaching strategies for helping students in the difficult process of constructing mental models of complex topics have been developed. We hope you will find it useful both in teaching this curriculum and in other areas as well.

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The Energy in the Human Body curriculum is the result of eight years of research on student learning and teaching strategies that assist students in constructing complex mental models of how their bodies work. It has been developed by a team of researchers and expert teachers in an attempt to find strategies that help students learn important concepts in life science. Students learn about how their own bodies use the energy they get from food. They learn why we breathe in oxygen, and breathe out carbon dioxide. Most importantly, they learn why their bodies are designed the way they are and apply this knowledge to common everyday occurrences. Instead of simply memorizing vocabulary, students learn concepts that will be important in their study of Biology later in their academic career. Students will have a chance to relate structure to function, to understand how the way a part of the body is structured relates to the way it works.

Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation [ESI-9911401 and REC-0231808] John Clement, PI. Copyright 2004 Mary Anne Rea-Ramirez. All rights reserved.
Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.