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5.1: Planning

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

  • Hormones, chemical substances that come from endocrine glands, are released in the bloodstream where specific receptors on target cells pick them up as needed; hormones and cell receptors work like a lock and key.
  • The hypothalamus and pituitary glands control the body's reproductive system and its functions through the release of the gonadotrophins, FSH and LH; in the female they cause the production of estrogens and progesterone, and in the male, androgens, primarily testosterone.
  • In the female, estrogens and progesterone work in a cycle to maintain the lining of the uterus and sustain pregnancy. Testosterone sustains sperm production in males and helps build muscle in both males and females.
  • The hypothalamus works as a thermostat for the body's hormone system. It helps control levels of hormones in the body through a negative feedback system.


This section examines how hormones function. Students use a puzzle to demonstrate that they know how hormones “fit” with specific receptors on a cell to influence its behavior. The role of glands such as the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, and the gonads are discussed along with the hormones that they produce. After learning about feedback systems, students perform a relay role-play in which they demonstrate the way glands and hormones work together to create the changes of puberty and to maintain the balance needed to keep the body functioning smoothly.



demonstrate that they understand the way hormones link with certain receptors but not with others.

demonstrate a knowledge of the role that hormones play in overall development.

model the role of specific hormones and glands.

explain what is meant by a feedback system.


adrenal gland, endocrine glands, estrogen, exocrine glands, follicle-stimulating hormone, gonadotropins, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, gonads, growth hormone, hormones, hypothalamus, luteinizing hormone, nervous system, pituitary gland, progesterone, receptors, steroids, testosterone

Student Materials

Activity 4-1: Glands and Hormones

  • Activity Report
  • Glue stick or bottle of glue (per team if possible)
  • Scissors (per team)

Activity 4-2: All That Happens at Puberty

  • Resources 1 and 2
  • Name card, role card
  • Construction paper, markers
  • Scissors (unless you precut the construction paper)

Teacher Materials

Activity 4-1: Glands and Hormones

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Activity 4-2: All That Happens at Puberty

  • 1 set of name cards per 18 students
  • 1 set of role cards per 18 students
  • 1 set of intact role cards to use as a guide for giving directions during the relay

Advance Preparation

See Activities 4-1 and 4-2 in the student edition.

Activity 4-1: Glands and Hormones

  • Make sure that there are enough scissors and glue available.

Activity 4-2: All That Happens at Puberty

  • Decide how you will group your class. There are 18 roles. You can select performers and have then other students watch, or, with enough students, you can have two or more separate groups. It is also possible to give some students more than one role or to eliminate the egg, sperm, bone and tissue, or muscle cards, since they are dead-end cards. Another way to include more students is to have two or more of some cards, for example, two adrenal glands or two or more testosterone cards, since some roles have more than one job.
  • Copy one set of name cards and one set of role cards for each group. Cut out the cards.
  • Decide where you will conduct the activity. Since it works best if students can spread out in a fairly open space, the gym, lunchroom, or classroom with chairs pushed back works best.
  • Gather the necessary supplies.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Social Studies The concept of a feedback system can be applied to social and governmental situations. Many examples can be found in daily life and society.

Background Information

Hormones are chemical substances that are essential for cellular activities that ultimately maintain the homeostatic balance of the body. Hormones can also be thought of as chemical messengers circulating in blood, which control the developmental and metabolic functions of cells and tissues.

The 30 or so hormones produced by a dozen major endocrine glands differ greatly in their chemical conformation and properties. Some, such as hormones produced by the pituitary, are complex proteins. Others, such as the steroid hormones, are smaller, less complex chemicals.

The endocrine and nervous systems are closely integrated. Some chemicals function both as hormones and as neurotransmitters.

Sex hormones affect the body at two levels. At the first level, the impact is permanent as with the changes of puberty. Thus, once a girl develops breasts or a boy grows a beard, the task is accomplished.

The second level of hormone function is the maintenance of bodily functions. Thus, ovaries and testes must continue to produce their hormones to make reproduction possible. In this case, as the body uses hormones, the hormones have to be replenished constantly to sustain the functions they Support.

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