Grade 11 U Internal Systems and Regulation

This resource page is designed to help students respond to STSE issues relating to ‘Internal Systems and Regulation’ with inquiry-based actions. ‘Internal Systems and Regulation’ is a unit set within Ontario’s Grade 11 Biology curriculum. The Overall Expectations for teaching and learning in this unit are:
1. Describe and explain the major processes, mechanisms, and systems, including the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems by which plants and animals maintain their internal environment
2. Illustrate and explain, through laboratory investigations, the contribution of various types of systems and processes to internal regulation in plant and animal systems
3. Evaluate the impact of personal lifestyle decisions on the health of humans, and analyze how societal concern for maintaining human health has advanced the development of technologies related to the regulation of internal systems
The activities below primarily address Expectation #3.

General Overview of Resources Use
The activities of this resource page are organized into three progressive sections as recommended in the Backgrounder.
Click here for a brief description of the sections.

Detailed Suggestions for Resources Use
1. Model Inquiry-based STSE Actions
You could begin by having students share what they know about the mechanisms by which plants and animals maintain their internal environment (e.g. respiratory, circulatory, digestive systems). The class could discuss the interaction of Science, Technologies, Societies and Environments with regards to internal systems and regulation of plants and animals. Furthermore, have students brainstorm a list of relevant issues related to issues relevant to the unit. In your follow-up discussion with students, you might use some of the following examples:
Multivitamins: There is a common belief that vitamin and mineral supplements are beneficial for one's health. Longitudinal studies, however, have found that they're not effective in fighting cancer and heart disease. In addition, independent laboratories have found that many vitamins on the market contained more or less of a particular vitamin than indicated on the label, did not dissolve in the correct amount of time and/or contained high amounts of contaminants like lead and arsenic.
Snack food labels: As consumers are increasingly mindful of their health, many companies are attemping to make their products seem more nutritious by including catch phrases like "whole grain", "low fat", "made with real fruit" and "organic" on their packages. A more careful look at ingredients and nutrition information reveals that many of these products are not as healthy as they might appear.
Energy drinks: Energy drinks, which contain high levels of caffeine, sugars and carbs, are designed to improve alertness and increase cognitive performance. Excess consumption, however, can lead to negative side effects including insomnia, irritability, anxiety, arrhythmia, and stomach upset. In addition, the names and slogans of different drinks targets towards adolescents are controversial (e.g. Rockstar, Monster, Big Buzz, Cocaine). Parents groups in Canada are mobilizing to ban energy drink sales to minors.
CT scans: Millions of CT scans are performed in North America each year. They are an important tool for diagnosing diseases and monitoring how patients respond to treatment but are controversial due to an associated risk of cancer from exposure to radiation. Critics believe that a large proportion of CT scans are unjustified.
Having sensitized students to a number of issues related to Internal Systems and Regulation, ask students what could be done about them – record their answers. Furthermore, provide examples of actions people have taken through the videos below. After watching each video, allow students to share their reactions.

1) Protest over the energy drink named 'Cocaine'

2) Rage energy drink ad spoof

3) Expert discusses hidden dangers of energy drinks

Discussion questions:
- What issues/controversies are presented with regards to energy drinks?
- How are different people taking action in response? Are their actions effective – why or why not? What else could be done?
- What sources of information were used to make the videos? (Video #3, for example is composed of secondary research including statistics from studies and knowledge from an expert).

2. Guided Inquiry-based STSE Actions
Before beginning the project, it is important to assess students’ comfort and expertise with conducting primary and secondary research. You might have to take some time to provide students with lessons on developing inquiry skills such as asking cause-result questions, designing experiments and correlational studies, preparing appropriate tables and graphs, analyzing data, reporting findings, etc. Since students will be conducting primary research, it would also be useful to discuss the general features of correlational studies and experiments.

If you feel that students have sufficient expertise with primary research, you should then proceed with a guided inquiry-based project. One suggestion is for students to conduct primary and secondary research on junk food.

Part 1 - Snack food consumption
Have students...
a. Predict current trends and adverse effects of snack food consumption in North America. Afterward, students can consult other sources of information to gain background knowledge on the topic.
b. Choose 2 variables (cause and result) that might provide insight on factors affecting snack food consumption. Cause variables may include age, gender, occupation, hours of exercise per week and more. Examples of result variables are amount of chips/cookies/crackers consumed per week and amount of money spent on snack food per week, among others.
c. Survey at least 10-15 people on their snacking habits; record data in a table containing a column for each variable.
d. Use the data table to create a graph with the 'cause' (independent) variable along the x-axis and 'result' (dependent) variable on the y-axis.
e. Read the graph – determine whether there's a positive correlation, negative correlation or no correlation. Remind students that the results are not necessarily reflective of a larger population due to the small sample size.
f. Consider actions that could effectively address the issue at hand.

Part 2 - Snack food marketing
Have students...
a. Seek secondary sources of information to gain knowledge on issues with the branding and marketing of snack foods (e.g. Food and Drug Administration regulations, consumers' perceptions of snack foods labeled as "healthy") as well as the purpose of different nutrients and how they are used/stored by the body.
b. Compare the nutrition information (calories, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars) of differently marketed crackers of the same brand (e.g. Premium Plus salted, unsalted, whole wheat, and 5-grain). This comparison will help determine whether crackers that are perceived to be healthy (unsalted, whole wheat, and 5-grain) by consumers are healthier than the original (salted).
c. Record the data in a table and make an appropriate graph to display it. Note: Serving sizes labeled on boxes will vary. Choose a constant serving size for each sample (50g) and convert your nutrition information accordingly.
d. Analyze the graph to determine if there is a relationship between chosen variables. Students' reports might look like this: Crackers Marketing Investigation.doc.
e. Brainstorm possible actions to counter the issue at hand.

Part 3 - Create and implement a plan of action
Ask students to develop a plan of action in response to their research findings. One suggestion would be to create an educational campaign for the school on the health risks of excess snacking and marketing strategies companies use to make their products appear nutritious (see video below). Students could also write letters to the Canadian government about enforcing stricter policies for labeling food products.

Sample educational video:

A good example of activism is the creation of a website for kids and teens (called Fit For a Feast) which promotes healthy eating through fun, simple recipes. Inspiration for the website came from a pair of pre-teens who wanted to encourage their fellow peers to lead a more healthy, active lifestyle.

3. Student-led Inquiry-based STSE Action Project
a. Handout copies of the assignment to the class – it may be useful to do this at the beginning of the unit. Read it over together and ensure everyone understands each part.
b. Provide students with a list of STSE issues relevant to the Internal Systems and Regulation unit, including ones that were brainstormed by students in the first, modeling activism phase.
c. Organize students into small groups of 3-5 students – each will explore and act upon one STSE issue. Encourage students to work collaboratively, making decisions and dividing work appropriately.
d. Provide students with in-class time to use the library and/or computer lab for research and encourage groups to meet outside of class time. It would also be useful to set tentative deadlines for each stage of the project to help groups manage their time.
e. Towards the end of the unit, students should have an opportunity to defend their proposed actions with their research findings in front of the class. This would provide a great opportunity for students to share their learning with the class, reflect upon their growth and next steps, and receive feedback from the teacher and peers.