Bones Teachers’ notes Key Stage 3 or 4 (11–17 year olds) Clips from Lecture 2 of 3: Life in orbit christmas lectures 2015 – How to Survive in Space

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Use a clip from the 2015 CHRISTMAS LECTURES to enhance biology lessons on the skeleton, physics lessons on structural strength, or chemistry lessons on calcium. There are accompanying ideas, information, and worksheets for short, medium, or long activities.


Lecture 2

Short activity (10-30 minutes) – View and Discuss

View this clip with your class to augment lessons on:

A worksheet is available with questions that draw on concepts in the clip. Feel free to distribute this to your class to be filled out after viewing, or simply use it a guide for discussion afterwards.

There is also an information sheet with additional facts, figures, and explanations to help lead the session.

Bone Activities – Teacher Information
Bones are living tissues

  • Bones constantly remodel themselves based on their use.

  • This remodelling is happening daily and has three steps: resorption, reversal, and formation

  • The body deposits calcium onto bones to strengthen them and takes calcium away if the strength is not needed

  • The calcium taken away from bones is filtered by the kidneys and ultimately excreted in urine. Excess calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia) can lead to constipation, kidney stones, and psychosis

  • During puberty, the body deposits bone at an accelerated rate and most people reach peak bone density in their 20s and 30s

  • Bones are matrices made of two main parts – calcium hydroxylapatite (a version of calcium phosphate) and collagen.

  • The mix of calcium and collagen makes bones both strong and flexible.

Gravity affects bones

  • The areas of the skeleton that have to work hardest to hold the body up against gravity are the heel (calcaneus), where the leg fits into the hip (femoral neck), and the lower back (lumbar spine)

  • Astronauts on board the ISS experience a 1.5% per month decrease in bone mass

  • To combat the decrease in bone and muscle mass, astronauts spend two hours a day exercising on one of three machines – a stationary bicycle, a treadmill, or a weight machine called the ARED.

Bone models in the clip

  • The bone models in the clip were produced for the Ri by the Royal Veterinary College and the architectural firm Foster + Partners.

  • They are 3D printed using plaster and glue

  • The strong bone model comes from a CT scan of the tip of a deer’s femur

  • The weak version is that same model after simulated density loss comparable to what an astronaut might experience after a year in space.

Bone diseases

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