Unit Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Interaction of Body Systems unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the functions and interactions of the circulatory, muscular, nervous, digestive and respiratory systems. *You’ll notice that Mosa Mack focuses on the five most commonly discussed body systems. To teach additional units, have students suggest how other body systems might be impacted in the comic mystery.

Lesson Overview

Medium solveSolve: Sleeping Leg Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map
Medium makeMake: Lab Stations: Experience Body Systems Interacting
Medium engineerEngineer: Engineer a Solution when a Body Part Malfunctions

Students contextualize Body Systems vocabulary in a mind map before helping Mosa Mack solve the mystery of why the trapeze artist’s leg is asleep. By the end of The Solve,students discover that there are many different systems at work throughout the body and when one system fails, all systems are impacted. (75 mins)

Students do a series of kinesthetic activity stations exploring the different systems that are working within their body. Students then construct a visual model that links all of the systems together. (200 mins)

Students design a solution that addresses a kink in the working body system, like a heart valve blocked by plaque. Students then do a gallery walk to observe all the potential solutions for a malfunctioning body system. (200 mins)

Next Generations Science Standards

Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. [Clarification Statement: Examples of structures could include thorns, stems, roots, colored petals, heart, stomach, lung, brain, and skin.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to macroscopic structures within plant and animal systems.]
Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on systems of information transfer.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the mechanisms by which the brain stores and recalls information or the mechanisms of how sensory receptors function.]
Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the conceptual understanding that cells form tissues and tissues form organs specialized for particular body functions. Examples could include the interaction of subsystems within a system and the normal functioning of those systems.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the mechanism of one body system independent of others. Assessment is limited to the circulatory, excretory, digestive, respiratory, muscular, and nervous systems.]
Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories. [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include mechanisms for the transmission of this information.]

Science & Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Engaging in Arguments From Evidence
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (Oral Presentation)

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • Information Processing
  • Structure and Function

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models

Inquiry Scale

  • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
  • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
  • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.

Common Misconceptions

  • Learners initially think that inhaled oxygen remains in the lungs and is only used there. Emphasize through the Solve and Make activities that air inhaled into the lungs is circulated through the blood to the heart and then to the rest of the body. This is how the circulatory and respiratory systems are connected.
  • Relatedly, students initially think that each system in the body does its own job independently. Emphasize through the Solve and Make activities that all of the systems interact with one another. When one system fails, it leads to the failure of other systems.
  • Students initially think that the nervous system is a separate system that functions on its own and controls all other systems. Emphasize through the Solve that nerve cells, like any other cells, need oxygen and nutrients in order to function.
  • Students tend to believe that their body systems act like one-way systems. For example, oxygen enters the body and dead-ends at cells, or food enters the body and exits the body through the anus. Emphasize to students through the Solve and Make activities that most processes in the body work as a cycle. For example, blood cycles oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide away from cells. Blood cycles oxygen to digestive cells and takes nutrients away towards other cells.


    • Carbon Dioxide
    • Oxygen
    • Glucose
    • Respiratory System
    • Circulatory System
    • Red Blood Cell
    • Digestive System
    • Muscular System
    • Brain
    • Nervous System

Content Expert Title

  • Aaron Corcoran, Ph.D.
    Wake Forest University


  • Powerpoints for Make and Design
  • Solve Student Handout
  • Make Student Handout
  • Design Student Handout
  • Vocabulary Mind Map

New: RocketLit Leveled Reading

* To give our users the most comprehensive science resource, Mosa Mack is piloting a partnership with RocketLit, a provider of leveled science articles.

  • I Heart You

    Your heart is a bit of a crazy person. Blood is pulled into the atria and is pushed out through the ventricles. Most of your blood leave your heart through the aorta. Your blood pressure is how much your blood is pushing on the walls of your blood vessels and can be affected by many things

  • What is a Red Blood Cell?

    This article covers one of the main jobs of your red blood cells: to transport oxygen to your cells for them to use to create usable energy and to take the carbon dioxide waste away from your cells.

  • In The Blood

    Your blood plays a team sport. Each different part works together to keep the whole field covered. Red blood cells handle oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nutrients. Your platelets make sure you stop bleeding once you start and white blood cells protect you from bad things that get into your body.

  • We Get Around

    Blood travels through blood vessels like cars travel down streets. Arteries are for getting the blood away from your heart and veins are for taking it back toward the heart. Capillaries are for getting things your cells need to them and getting things they don't need away out of your body.

  • Things That Go Wrong With Circulation

    Everybody's got problems, but let's hope they aren't problems with circulation. Most of the worst things that can happen with the circulatory system affect the blood that feeds the heart, or your coronary circulation. In addition, blood clots can form and travel to places like your brain and cut off your brain cells from oxygen and nutrients. Make sure to take care of yourself to prevent these things from happening!

  • The Mouth

    The journey starts here. This article describes what the digestive system is and also defines digestion. It also reviews what enzymes are and what the saliva in your mouth does to aid in digestion.

  • What is Taste?

    Taste buds are the tiny organs that stand guard inside your mouth. Teamed up with your nose to sniff out thing that are both delicious and dangerous, this article goes through the basics of the different parts of your taste buds.

  • How to Get to the Stomach

    Welcome your food to the slide that squeezes you down through a mucus filled cavity! This article discusses both the differences between the windpipe and the esophagus as well as a brief explanation of peristalsis and the function of mucus.

  • The Stomach aka How to Make All Food Look the Same

    When food enters your mouth, it can look many different ways, but the stomach puts a prompt end to that. With acid and churning, the stomach turns your delicious meals into chyme and sends it through the pyloric sphincter on to its next adventure.

  • Small Intestine aka How to Soak up Food

    In this article, students investigate the different functions of the small intestine. They look at the functions of the liver and pancreas in digestion and how villi help us to absorb our food into the bloodstream.

  • Large Intestine aka the Dryer

    In this article, students look at the function of the large intestine in the digestive system. They'll read about the water removal that occurs in the large intestine and the resulting feces that are stored in the rectum until they are let out through the anus.

  • Nutrients or Why We Can't Eat Pizza For Every Meal

    If only we could eat pizza for every meal! This article discusses four molecules that our bodies use for nutrition. Students will read a brief intro of where each molecule is found and what our body uses them for.

  • Stop Stealing My Nutrients!

    Some living things take more than they give back. In this article, students read about two of the most common parasites that we may find lurking around in our body. The article also talks about symbiosis as the ability of two organisms to live with each other and help, rather than hurt, each other's ability to survive.

  • Messed Up Muscles

    Let's face it, muscles don't always work the way they're supposed to. This article describes types of injuries and diseases that can result from or lead to messed up muscles.

  • What Are Bones For?

    Bones provide our bodies with protection and support, while also accomplishing other important tasks. They give our body a frame and at the same time produce essential blood and immune cells. In order to stay strong, our bones are constantly broken down and built back up by cells called osteocytes. If only we have nerve cells that constantly rebuilt our memories of all this information!

  • Connective Tissue

    In between muscles, organs and the rest of your body is connective tissue. This article discusses the different types of connective tissue and the basics of their function.

  • Broken Bones

    Bones are your body's support system. This article talks about the needs of bones and what can go wrong with bones. Calcium is stored in the bones, but it can be pulled out for use in other parts of the body when a person has osteoporosis. A slight curve to the spine is normal, but in Scoliosis, the curve is exaggerated and may require correction.

  • They Work Together

    The parts of your body almost never work in isolation. Muscles and bones, coming together at joints, work to contribute to and support your movement. Their powers combined are what allows you to exert great amounts of force.

  • Reflex

    In this article, students are introduced to how reflexes work in the body. The process starts with sensory neurons that sense stimuli and connect with interneurons to decide what to do. Motor neurons are activated without the brain's involvement in a reflex, because action is needed before any thoughts or associations need to be accessed. OUCH THAT HURTS MOVE NOW!

  • What Do Lungs Do?

    Your lungs are like a lunchroom. Oxygen comes in and is exchanged for carbon dioxide in a process called respiration.

  • The Outer Ear

    The first stop on sound's trip to your brain is the outer ear. The pinna catches the sound and then it travels down your ear canal deeper into your head. Which part do you think annoying songs actually get stuck in?

  • The Middle Ear

    The Middle Ear is the halfway point in the journey of sound to the brain. Here, the eardrum transfers vibrations to the ossicles and the pressure from the shaking eardrum pushes deeper into the ear.

  • Inner Ear

    The Inner ear is the last part of sound's journey before it's sent to your brain as an electrical signal. This is one of the most complicated parts, as this is where pitch is detected and your balance is based.

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