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The following Projects are an assortment of long-term activities that can be completed ind individually, in groups or as a class. We have provided starting points for research and development; you and the students can work together to create a more detailed plan of action. Consider the following two recommendations. First, because of the amount of work involved in a Project, students should choose one of great interest to them. Second, to encourage excellence and promote student-student learning, students should present their finished projects to the rest of the class, to the school and to the community, if appropriate.

Project 1: Research Questions and Action Projects

Project 1 differs from the others: it is a list of possible research topics organized according to some key ideas and addressed to students.

In assigning a Research Question or Action Project, we ask that you allow students to choose their topic either one provided or one of their own. You might also:

  1. Specify length of piece.
  2. Make clear the purpose and the audience.
  3. Suggest sources and ideas for information.
  4. Provide in-class time for compiling information and writing.
  5. Require students to exchange papers and provide written feedback.
  6. Provide a breakdown of due-dates for the following stages: choice of topic, outline, rough draft and final draft.
  7. Permit students to supplement a written report with a skit, a piece of artwork, a piece of music, a dance, a video, or a multimedia presentation.

ASSESS

Provide the students with evaluation criteria that include:

  • accuracy of the content based on guiding questions.
  • clarity of writing.
  • effective organization of main ideas.
  • use of detailed examples or citing evidence to support their conclusions.

Projects 1: Research Questions

You Are What You Eat

1. What are the basic food groups? Use textbooks and research articles to answer the following questions: When were the basic food groups introduced? For what purpose? How have they changed over time? Why? What can food groups tell you about what and how much to eat?

2. Are you learning the same nutritional information as your parents? Your grandparents? Examine life science textbooks from the last several decades. Answer the following: How has nutritional information changed over time? Why? How do these changes affect your life? How do these changes reflect larger changes in American society? What do these changes say about the scientific process?

3. What is a healthy diet? Use the latest information on health and nutrition to do the following: recommend when, what, and how much a teenager like yourself should eat; create a short menu of healthy meals and snacks; and provide evidence to support your choices.

4. What are vitamins? Choose two vitamins described in your text. Research the following: what they are, in what foods they are found, what they do in your body, what happens if you get too much or too little of them, and if your diet provides you with an adequate supply.

5. Why is too much fat unhealthy? Describe the following: what fat is, what the purpose of fat is in the body, what foods are high in fat, why too much fat is unhealthy, and how you can avoid too much fat in your own diet.

Your Food and Your Life

6. How has the human diet changed over time? Research the major changes in the human diet, the events that caused those changes, and the benefits or drawbacks of those changes. For example, people began eating frozen foods about 50 years ago-after we learned how to freeze food. Your text can help get you started.

7. Do all humans eat the same kinds of food? Research people's diet in one culture or country. Describe what they eat and why. The “why” can include available resources, traditions, and religious reasons. Compare this culture's diet with your own.

8. Is it easy to be a vegetarian in the United States? Describe what it means to be a vegetarian. Explain the costs and benefits of eating a vegetarian diet. For example, one cost is difficulty in maintaining a balanced diet with all essential amino acids and one benefit is lower food bills. Are you or would you like to become a vegetarian? Explain your answer.

9. What is a fad diet? Research a current fad diet. Describe what the diet is, how it claims to work, and any evidence of its effectiveness. Then discuss why the fad diet should not be tried-how the diet can cause more harm than good.

10. Why is the United States often considered the land of the obese? Research obesity in American society. How is obesity defined? How many Americans are considered obese? What are the causes of obesity? Why is being obese unhealthy? What can you do to avoid or overcome obesity?

11. Why are some people anorexic or bulimic? Research one or both of these eating disorders. Describe what it is, who it affects, what causes it, how it is treated, and how it can be prevented. Discuss societal pressures that may contribute to these eating disorders.

12. Why does malnutrition remain a global problem? Choose a country, like the United States, Ethiopia, or Mexico, in which some people continue to go hungry. Research the following: Who goes hungry? Why? What can that country's government do to help its people? What can other nations do? What can you do?

Our Bodies Need Building Blocks

13. Your text tells you: Plants and animals are linked together and need each other to live. What does this sentence mean? Research and describe several connections between plants and animals. Explain what these connections mean to you.

14. Your text compares your digestive system to a disassembly line. Create your own analogy to describe how the digestive system works. Compare your analogy with that in the text. What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? Why do scientists often use analogies to describe how something works? Are analogies generally helpful or confusing?

A Journey through the Digestive System

15. Do you have strong, healthy teeth? In recent decades, people have learned how to take better care of their teeth. What are some recent advances in dental care? How did these advances come about? How do they affect you and your teeth?

16. Who are Dr. Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin? Many textbooks give a brief description of how Dr. Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin performed experiments to learn how the stomach works. Conduct your own research on the story. Do textbooks provide an accurate description of what happened? What immediate effects did Dr. Beaumont's discoveries have on people's knowledge of the digestive system? What effect do they have today?

17. What do you do when someone is choking? Research the causes and prevalence of choking. How can choking be prevented? How could you help a choking victim?

18. How do antacid tablets neutralize stomach acid? When should people take them? Research antacid tab lets: how they work, when they should be used, and when they are no longer enough. Include other ways to treat an upset stomach. Explain why having an upset stomach on a regular basis is a bad sign. What will you do next time your stomach is upset?

19. How does fiber help the large intestine do its job? Answer the following questions about fiber: What is fiber? What are good sources of fiber? How does fiber affect the large intestine? What can happen if people don't eat enough fiber? How can you include more fiber in your own diet?

Staying Healthy

20. Are food additives necessary? Can they harm your health? Research a food additive such as MSG. Describe what it is, why it is used, in what foods it is found, who sets standards for use, and its health benefits or risks. Find out what might happen to you if you eat a lot of this additive. Decide if you want to continue to do so.

21. Are fast foods really bad foods? Choose one fast food restaurant in your community. Research the types of food it serves, the foods' nutritional and caloric content, and how such food is prepared and cooked. Attempt to create a “healthy” meal from its menu. Make sure to support your opinions with evidence.

22. Is losing weight easy? Conduct research to determine when a person should lose weight, which weight-loss diets are best, and what happens once a person stops dieting. If you have ever been on a weight-loss diet, include your own experiences and insights.

23. Is gaining weight easy? Conduct research to determine when a person should gain weight and what foods he or she should eat. If you have ever been on a diet to gain weight, include your own experiences and insights.

24. Why is exercise often linked to good nutrition? Describe several connections between eating right and exercising regularly. Also include a self-examination: What are your eating and exercise habits? How can they be imp roved?

25. What is cholesterol? Why is some cholesterol good and some bad? Examine the latest research on cholesterol: what it is, what it does, in what foods it is found, why certain kinds of cholesterol are considered bad and good, and what you can do to keep your cholesterol level low.

Projects 2: Teacher Activity Notes - A Nutritional Lunch

PLAN

Summary Students use their knowledge of the body's energy and nutrient needs to assess the nutritional value of their lunches. They consider whether lunches served by the school cafeteria (if one exists at their school) or lunches brought from home conform to guidelines for a healthy diet.

Interdisciplinary Health/Nutrition

Estimated Time Some class time each day to record and analyze the makeup of their lunches. Several class periods for students to prepare and present their projects.

Student Materials

A nutritional chart or software that analyzes the diet and a food pyramid

Teacher Materials

None required

Advance Preparation

None required

Product

Oral and written reports of group findings Nutritionally sound menu

IMPLEMENT

1. Before initiating this project, discuss it with the head of the cafeteria in order to ensure cooperation on his or her part as well as respect and consideration on the part of the class.

2. Divide students into groups to conduct a study of the nutritional value of one real-life lunch. If the school has a cafeteria, have each team analyze a different lunch-some from the cafeteria and some from home. If there is no cafeteria in the school, then students in a team can exchange lunch diaries and analyze each other's lunches. Each team should study the following: the kinds and amounts of food in the lunch and estimates of the amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins and of the numbers of calories present in the food served. An alternative to this analysis can be for students to use a food pyramid to tally up food choices for each of the food groups, looking for a balance and for a number of servings tally to represent about one-third of the recommended servings per day.

3. Each team should present its findings orally and in writing to the rest of the class.

4. The class should come up with an ideal lunch plan for a week. The plan should include the following:

  • Lunch menus for 5 days. Explain why you chose the foods in your menus (i.e., why they are considered nutritional).
  • A complete analysis of the protein, fat, carbohydrate, calorie, and vitamin content of your weeklong plan
  • An estimate of the cost of each lunch
  • Packaging that reflects a consideration of the environment

Note: It may be helpful to provide a table for students to list the foods on their menus and assign each food to a food group and nutrient category. See page 142.

Remind students that lunch items should be broken down into their parts and each part should be listed separately (e.g., a turkey sandwich is comprised of bread, turkey, lettuce).

5. Finally, have a class lunch, picnic style, using your menus. To do this, you may choose to have students bring in the lunches they prepared according to the menus. Or, as a team or a class, you may choose to pick one day's menu and have each student bring in part of it (enough for a few people). Ask the cafeteria to serve the lunch. Menus can be displayed for all to see.

Extensions

  • A few months later, ask students to repeat their analysis of the lunches from home or at the cafeteria. How does it compare with their initial analysis? Is their analysis faulty in some way? Has the cafeteria's menu improved from a nutritional point of view? If not, why not? Does the cafeteria lack the funds to provide healthier food? Are there federal or state laws controlling the cafeteria's choices? Have students' concerns or recommendations fallen on deaf ears?
Lunch Item Food Group Nutrient
  • Ask students to assess what they learned and/or did in this project. Have them write about these experiences in a reflective paper.
  • Ask students to synthesize in an article all that the groups have learned and done. Submit this article to the school and/or local newspaper for publication.
  • Have a professional nutritionist visit the class and discuss his or her job as it relates to promoting healthy eating.

ASSESS

Use the research results and presentations to assess if students can

  • identify the amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins and the numbers of calories in the foods from lunch.
  • design an ideal lunch plan for five days.
  • analyze their ideal lunch plan according to food group and nutrient category.

Projects 3: Teacher Activity Notes - A Healthy Food Plan

PLAN

Summary What is a healthy two-day food plan for students? In this project students design a healthy food plan based on what they have learned about healthy eating.

Interdisciplinary Math, Home Arts

Estimated Time A day to create the food plan and a lunch period for sharing the food

Student Materials

Activity Guide

Food nutrient chart

Food pyramid

Food diaries from Activity 1-1: Are You What You Eat?

Results from Activity 2-2: Calories: How Much Energy Do You Use?

Teacher Materials

None required

Advance Preparation None required

Product

A healthy food plan covering a time period of two days, a healthy lunch menu, and a meal to be presented at the Class Picnic

IMPLEMENT

1. Have students design a healthy, two-day food plan for themselves or for a friend. They should include the names of the food, the amounts eaten, the calories per serving, and the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats available in grams.

The food plan should

  • fit their daily calorie requirements. (Refer students to Activity 2-2: Calories: How Much Energy Do You Use?)
  • be heart smart; contain less than 30% fat calories. (Refer students to Activity 1-1 : Are You What You Eat?)
  • contain 15% or more of protein calories. (Refer students to Activity 1-1: Are You What You Eat?)
  • include food from all five food groups as they appear in the food pyramid.
  • include all six nutrients.

2. In their teams, students can share ideas for menus based on their healthy food plans. Then they can decide on a menu that includes a variety of easy-to-make, tasty, and nutritious foods. Plan to share the lunch at a school picnic or as part of a science activity in science class. Have students make sure that their lunches

  • follow the healthy food guide lines described above.
  • use packaging materials that respect the environment.
  • include a written menu to display while “picnicking” with their group.

Assess

Use the healthy food plan and the meal presented to assess if students can:

  • design a food plan for two days that includes the names of the foods, the amounts eaten, the calories per serving, and the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in grams.
  • demonstrate how their food plan fits the criteria outlined in the project.
  • calculate their daily calorie (Cal) intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Project 3 Activity Guide: A Healthy Food Plan (Student Reproducible)

Helpful Information to Consider before Planning the Meal

Before filling out the diet plan, find the following values:

1. My calorie use per day is about ____________ calories. (Use the chart in the text or the results from Activity 2-2: Calories: How Much Energy Do You Use?)

2. My total fat intake per day should be no more than

30% \times ___________ calories needed per day = ___________ calories from fat.

3. My total protein intake per day should be about

15% \times ___________ calories needed per day = ___________ calories or more from protein.

4. Can you think of an easy way to calculate how many calories of carbohydrates your diet has?

After filling out your 2-day diet plan, answer the following questions:

Day 1: Total grams of fat = _________ calories = _________

Day 2: Total grams of fat = _________ calories = _________

Average number of fat calories per day = _________ (a)

Day 1: Total grams of protein = _________ calories = _________

Day 2: Total grams of protein = _________ calories = _________

Average number of protein calories per day = _________ (b)

^* One gram of fat has 9 calories. One gram of protein and one gram of carbohydrates each has 4 calories.

How do (a) and (b) above compare?

Projects 4: Teacher Activity Notes - Waste in the Fast-Food Industry

PLAN

Summary Students study the effects of waste products from fast food restaurants on the environment.

Interdisciplinary Social Studies, Math

Estimated Time Approximately 1-1\frac{1}{2} weeks

Student Materials

None required

Teacher Materials

None required

Advance Preparation

None required

Product

Class presentations of results and written proposals to reduce restaurant waste

IMPLEMENT

1. Divide students into groups and have them pick a fast food restaurant in your town. If possible, each group should pick a different restaurant. Have students determine how much waste (by weight) a typical meal (e.g., a large hamburger, fries, and soft drink) produces each year. To do so, they will need a plan. For example, they will need to visit the fast food restaurant, collect the paper and Styrofoam garbage left from a typical meal, and find out how many such meals are typically sold each day (they may wish to interview the manager or owner of the restaurant to determine the approximate sales figures per day).

2. In researching how these various waste products are handled, the groups should consider the following:

  • Where does each type of waste go and what happens to it? (Is it burned, processed, or dumped?)
  • Could it be recycled? Reused?
  • What impact on the environment does it have?
  • Could it be replaced with something else or eliminated completely?

Give groups time to discuss the following questions:

  • Do you think the restaurant should attempt to reduce the amount of garbage it produces? If so, what can it do and how? Is it feasible? Economical?
  • What action(s) could customers or the community take?

3. Have groups design reports that present their results and provide a proposal to help their restaurant reduce its waste. Each group must present its report to the class using visuals, audiotapes, videos, and any other creative means to relay the information.

4. Finally, ask students to compare their results to those of groups investigating other fast food chains. Have them consider these questions:

  • How do the results compare?
  • What fast food chain produces the least garbage?
  • How does each try to minimize its waste?

Helpful Hints

  • Depending on the math skills of the students in the class, they may need some assistance. You may wish to collaborate with the math teacher at your school in order to make the computational part of this project a math assignment.
  • Students could also determine the volume of trash produced by using a large container of water and measuring the amount of water displaced by the garbage. Thus, the concept of mass versus volume could be explored.

Extensions

  • Have students send their report to an executive from the fast food company they analyzed. Send a letter with their report explaining their findings and requesting a response. When/if the companies respond, you can revisit the issue.
  • Students might also get other students in the school or community involved in order for everyone to be aware of and take responsibility for the waste produced by the fast food industry.
  • Ask students to synthesize in an article all that the groups have learned and done. Submit this article to the school and/or local newspaper for publication.

ASSESS

Use the research findings on fast-food restaurant waste disposal and the recommendations presented to assess if students can

  • determine how much waste a typical fast-food restaurant produces daily.
  • devise a plan to reduce waste that is economically feasible.

Projects 5: Teacher Activity Notes - Examining Eating Disorders

PLAN

Summary Students examine the issue of eating disorders. They consider the effects of the medial advertising and fashion industries on young people, especially girls. Students evaluate the opinions of medical and psychology experts who say that popular media and the fashion industry send signals that say you must be a certain shape and size to be happy, to be loved, or to be beautiful. Students formulate a plan of action to resist these strong messages sent to the public.

Interdisciplinary Social Studies and Health

Estimated Time Will vary but a minimum of two weeks, with about 3 days of in-class time

Student Materials

Will vary, but should include a variety of magazines and advertisements

Product

  • A presentation of research on the effects of eating disorders and related social and public policy issues
  • A written action plan for a healthy body image campaign

IMPLEMENT

1. Facilitate a class discussion focusing on why young people are so concerned with the shape and size of their bodies. Do students agree with the experts that we are constantly getting messages to be a certain shape and size from the society around us? If so, what makes people more or less susceptible to believing these messages?

2. Next, discuss what the class as a whole knows about eating disorders. Discuss the medical problems associated with eating disorders as well as the psychological problems. Ask students to conduct additional research if necessary.

3. Finally, ask students what they could do in another class, the school, or a nearby school to make a difference by helping lower the incidence of eating disorders among adolescents. They may first want to consider studying the situation to get an accurate picture of the problem. For example, ask them to observe carefully the environment of the school to see what messages are being sent to students about their bodies. They might look at the magazines in the library, posters on the wall, or textbooks and/or listen to how boys and girls talk and/or how teachers talk.

4. Either in groups or as a class, brainstorm several methods that could be useful for convincing others to have a healthy image of their body and avoid eating disorders. Choose one method to use to target your school, community, or state. Have students develop a detailed plan of action to carry out their campaign:

What are they going to do?

Who is going to do what and when?

Who do they need to contact for help, supplies, information, or permission to post posters or use space?

5. Have students implement their plan, if possible. They could write to local or state health officials or politicians. The letters should summarize student research, plan of action, and results as well as encourage politicians to enact the plan on a larger scale.

Helpful Hints

  • Although the topic of this activity is eating disorders, focus students' attention on the greater issue of general body image. Students worried about being too thin or too fat or not having big enough muscles should realize the importance of accepting everyone's body including their own.
  • Activity 5-1 explores the topic of eating disorders. It provides some information and a chance to identify “be thin” messages in magazines.

Extensions

  • Ask students to assess what they learned and/or did in this project. Have them write about these experiences in a reflective paper.
  • Have a guest speaker come in to talk to the class. Some communities have groups composed of people recovering from eating disorders who visit schools and organizations to speak about eating disorders and their experiences. In addition, some psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, and nutritionists specialize in eating disorders and might be willing to speak to the class.

ASSESS

Use the research results and written action plan to assess if students can:

  • identify the medical effects of eating disorders.
  • explain why people continue to develop eating disorders even when they know the negative health effects.
  • evaluate the impact of advertisements that, in effect, promote eating disorders.
  • present an organized action plan for developing a healthy body image and avoiding eating disorders.
  • make a convincing presentation using factual information.

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