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5.1: Planning

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Key Ideas

  • The pancreas and liver secrete important enzymes and substances necessary for the process of digestion.
  • The rhythmic contractions of peristalsis mix and move chyme through the intestines.
  • Nutrient absorption occurs primarily in the small intestine.
  • Osmosis and diffusion are the processes involved in absorption of digested food molecules (nutrients) from the small intestine into the bloodstream.


Students complete their imaginary voyage through the intestines. They observe the emulsifying action of bile produced by the liver on fats. Students explore the role of the pancreatic enzymes on food in the small intestine. They simulate peristalsis and observe how food in the form of chyme moves through the intestines. They investigate the structure and vast surface area of the intestines. Students learn about osmosis and absorption. They complete the voyage through the digestive tract by learning what happens in the colon or large intestine.



\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} identify the major regions of the digestive tract.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} describe the digestive action in the intestines.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} explain the roles of the pancreas and liver in the digestive process.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} describe the structure and function of the small intestine.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} demonstrate and explain peristalsis in the small intestine.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} describe the structure and function of the villi in the small intestine.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} explain the role of the colon in the digestive process.


cirrhosis, diffusion, emulsifies, feces, liver

Student Materials

Activity 4-1: A Journey through the Intestine (Peristalsis)

  • Activity Report
  • Tubing (2-inch diameter); Simulated chyme (cooked oatmeal/rice); Coloring material; Selected food items (grapes/lettuce); Bucket of water and paper towels; Water bottle; Spoons; Gloves; Funnel with large opening

Activity 4-2: A Journey through the Intestine (Villi)

  • Activity Report
  • Slides of intestine showing villi, and epithelial cells. (Electron micrographs of microvilli from textbooks); Microscope; Model or diagram of human digestive tract; Corrugated box cardboard; Sheep, pig, or cattle intestine; Butcher paper and/or adding machine paper; Scissors, markers, tape, ruler; Calculator; Scalpel or razor blade; Gloves (latex or plastic)

Teacher Materials

Activity 4-1: A Journey through the Intestine (Peristalsis)

  • Materials for simulated chyme-Rice mixture: 2 cups water, 1 cup rice, 3 teaspoons salt; Oatmeal mixture: 6 cups water, 2.5 cups oatmeal, 5 teaspoons salt
  • Diagram or model of the digestive system
  • Activity Report Answer Key

Activity 4-2: A Journey through the Intestine (Villi)

  • Diagram or model of the digestive system
  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

See Activities 4-1 and 4-2 in the Student Edition

Activity 4-1: A Journey through the Intestine (Peristalsis)

  • Prepare the simulated chyme and store in refrigerator for at least 2 days.
  • Order tubing.

Activity 4-2: A Journey through the Intestine (Villi)

  • Order the intestines (sheep, pig, cattle) from a packinghouse or a local grocery store or butcher.
  • Order the microscope slides of the intestine.
  • Buy adding machine paper or cut strips of butcher paper.
  • Collect corrugated cardboard and string.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts Students use creative writing to describe the digestive process.

Physical Education Create a dance simulating the digestion process.

Enrichment Activities

Enrichment 4-1: Transport of Materials-Exploring Diffusion

Order or borrow potassium permanganate, large graduated cylinders and glass tubing from the science department of your local high school.

Enrichment 4-2: Chemical Digestion Simulation

Enrichment 4-3: What Happens to the Digested Nutrients in the Small Intestine?

Order iodine, Benedict's solution, and soluble starch.

Obtain dialysis tubing (from local medical supply store, science supply, or hospital).

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Apr 29, 2014
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