Monday, October 1, 2012

The digestive tract: A science and math connection

Thursday of last week we did a math/science activity using a variety of objectives. We have been studying the different body systems in science this nine weeks. A fellow teacher told me about measuring the length of the digestive tract, so I googled it and found the lesson to use. On, I found The Digestive Tract lesson plan I used.
I asked the students how far it was from my mouth to my stomach. Using a meter stick they measured the length from my mouth to my stomach. Then we discussed all the parts of your body the food passes through. They decided it was longer than what they measured on me if it had to go through all those places...
Each pair of students got a part of the digestive tract to make the length with yarn. A student estimated using the measurements from the lesson plan page to get an estimation of the length of the digestive tract. After each group measured and cut their yarn, they actually measured it. Then the students tied each part together, stretched it out, and measured the whole length. They found their estimate was pretty close. One student said the yarn was stretchy, so the measurement couldn't be exact.  (Good Thinking!)
I shared this lesson with a few other teachers and showed them our looonnnnggg digestive tract we made with yarn. They were amazed at how long it actually is!
Estimating the length of the digestive tract.
Measuring and cutting the yarn.
How long does it need to be???
This is your esophagus!
That's a long way for your food to travel!!!


  1. Great post! I'm always looking for ideas to integrate math and science, especially with measurement. I teach 5th grade too, and last year, we made posters of ourselves by tracing on butcher paper. Then the students drew the various body systems and measured them. I wrote an article about it on my website: Glad I found you. I'll be back to get some more ideas for my 5th graders.

  2. Ash, I have done the same thing with the butcher paper in the past and the kids enjoyed it! Time didn't permit this time when we studied that unit. That may be a fun activity I can do before their state science test as a refresher. :) I will check out your article. Thank you so much for the feedback!!