Human Body - Week 2 - The Spleen

Week 2: We made hemoglobin, and red blood cells and recycled them in the spleen.

I have always wondered what the spleen did. For most organs I can rattle off a sentence or two about their function, and now I can do the same for the spleen. It is a recycling center for red blood cells. The iron and amino acids are removed from worn out red blood cells in the spleen before the wastes are sent to the liver for disposal. If you've been following this blog it's no surprise that I learned this by reading David Macaulay's The Way We Work book.

This activity was many steps long but lasted less than one hour. Getting the kids hands involved really helped them to understand the purpose of the Spleen.

First we mixed flour, water, salt and a little red food coloring to make the globin.

The lentils are the iron molecules, the gumdrops are the nucleus of the cells and the licorice is the heme.
Hemoglobin molecules are made of iron, heme and globin. The iron is surrounded by the heme which gives it it's red color and then surrounded with globin.

Each hemoglobin molecule consists of four iron molecules and their heme and globin.

These are our stem cells. After we made several hemeglobin molecules we put them together with a nucleus to form the stem cells which are found in the bones.

Stem cells can become different types of cells. We wanted ours to become red blood cells so we had to discard the nucleus.......

and add even more hemoglobin so that the red blood cell could carry lots of oxygen. There are over 250 million hemoglobin molecules inside one red blood cell.

Then we passed our red blood cells around the table like they travel through our bodies.

When they got old and worn out we recycled the iron and amino acids in the red blood cell as if we were doing the job of the spleen.

Last, the waste was shipped to the liver (or me in this case) for disposal.

To see more of our science activities please visit our science page.

This post is linked to:
Homeschool Showcase
Hip Homeschool Hop
Science Sparks

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  1. I love how creative you are, this is fantastic!

    Thanks so much for linking to Science Sparks. x

  2. Greeting from Bristol, Pa in the USA. Followed the link from Science Sparks and just wanted to drop you a thank you...."Thank You". It's also just after midnight where I am and so it's officially Mother's Day in the USA so "Happy Mother's Day!" as well. At a more decent hour I will be back to explore your site. Thanks for sharing! I will def check out your SPEED! game as I dread teaching math. I'm sure it will improve my abilities as well as teach my kids.
    Best Wishes for you as you live abroad and take on childhood leukemia. Christina K.


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