Hormonal communication (5.1.4)
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Content (from A-level)
|5.1.4 Hormonal Communication|
|(a)||endocrine communication by hormones||To include secretion of hormones into the blood, transport by the blood, and detection by target cells or tissues.|
|(b)||the structure and functions of the adrenal glands||Adrenal glands as an example of endocrine glands, to include the hormones secreted by the cortex and medulla and their functions.|
|(c)||(i) the histology of the pancreas
(ii) the examination and drawing of stained sections of the pancreas to show the histology of the endocrine tissues
|To include the endocrine tissues.
|(d)||how blood glucose concentration is regulated||To include the action of insulin and glucagon as an example of negative feedback, and the role of the liver
the control of insulin secretion, with reference to potassium channels and calcium channels in the beta cells of the pancreas.
|(e)||the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus||To include the causes of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the treatments used for each.
|(f)||the potential treatments for diabetes mellitus.||To include the use of insulin produced by genetically modified bacteria and the potential use of stem cells to treat diabetes mellitus.
A good starter activity for this topic can include a list of hormones on cards and separate cards for target tissues which students have to match. This helps to accentuate the meaning of endocrine and then focus on the relevant hormones for this section.
The adrenal glands can be shown on kidneys obtained from a butchers and histology could be observed merely to orientate the students to the relevance of the medulla and cortex. Sections can be observed by clicking on the 'Adrenal glands' link.
The role of the adrenal glands in hormone production can be summarised using the activity ‘Adrenal allies’.
The regulation of blood glucose (5.1.4d) can be taught by fun role play ('Skipping into action/jump to it') with the tricky words reinforced with 'All the Gs' activity.
The secretion of insulin can be demonstrated using modelling clay models. Many can be visualised on the internet as shown in the 'Secretion of insulin video'. Indeed students may be encouraged to make their own video of their model and its explanation.
Diabetes mellitus can introduced with case studies, encouraging HSW12 and then details can be discussed with the activity 'Much ado about sugar'.
Click on 'Clinical case study' for an example, but it would need to be simplified and tailored to suit the students' learning path.
- You are going to see One Direction/England play at Wembley. What role do the adrenal glands play in increasing your heart rate from excitement?
- You have broken your foot playing football/hockey and the swelling has lasted for days. Eventually the swelling begins to abate. What role do the adrenal glands play in reducing the swelling?
- You fell over playing football/hockey and lost a fair amount of blood from a head wound. You feel weak and crave salty food. What role do the adrenal glands have in rectifying this problem and [extension work] what has happened to cause these symptoms?
This topic requires many sequential events to be recalled, analysed and interpreted. Students often fail to master the early stages of homeostasis and concentrate on the effector responses. This can be emphasised by viewing the signalling process as a radio wave receiver dish detecting sound waves and passing the signal to a receiver and amplifier to eventually record the sound. The activity ‘Skipping into action/Jump to it’ can be used in this manner. This is a good way of showing the difference between the detector/receivers that are triggered by glucose concentration and the liver detectors/receivers that are triggered by insulin concentration, a distinction students often find confusing.
At each stage connections should be made to other topics (e.g. respiration 5.2.2c) and detail added to avoid common errors such as insulin stimulating an increased use of fatty acids in respiration not insulin stimulating fatty acid respiration.
This can be performed as skipping or just jumping depending on classroom restrictions. In small groups some students should skip/jump at a regular pace to music. They skip/jump over to the detector/glucose signal receiver (receiver dish if using the analogy above) student who tells them to speed up or slow down depending on glucose concentration going up or down. The detector student then sticks insulin stickers (for increase in glucose levels) on them and sends them over to the liver student who will receive the insulin signal and remove an insulin sticker at the same time as stating different ways that glucose blood levels can be decreased. As each correct suggestion is made, the students can slow their jumping/skipping to eventually get back to the original tempo. Obviously the opposite can be done for glucagon.
An interesting clip for insulin secretion can be seen by clicking on 'Beta cells'. This follows the receiver analogy but would require prior learning to avoid confusion and appreciate the graphics.
The pathologies of hormone malfunction are natural contexts in which to discuss hormonal communication.
Students will already be familiar, at some level, with diabetes and this is an excellent opportunity to build on that. The distinction between Type 1 and Type 2, in terms of causes, effects on lifestyle and treatments, is a very suitable focus for class discussion: thoroughly comprehensible to A Level students using their accumulated knowledge and of very real importance to a large number of people worldwide.
Living with, and managing, diabetes and the ways in which understanding of the condition and other scientific and medical advances have improved the situation is a good context where students are likely to have much to contribute from a combination of their scientific studies to date and their own personal and family experience.
Pathologies of the adrenal gland will take students into much less familiar territory. Considering conditions such as Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome gives an interesting medical context for introducing or revising the function of the adrenal cortex, even though the global significance of these disorders is far smaller than diabetes.
This topic should utilise many photomicrographs to emphasise the unique morphology of the pancreas (5.1.4c) and the importance of the different areas of the adrenal glands (5.1.4b). The pancreas and kidneys with adrenal glands attached can be obtained from a good butcher shop which would allow students to appreciate the location and texture of the organs although little else can be gained from dissecting them.
Models can be made of the pancreatic cells for illustrating insulin secretion and videos could be made as students explain the stages involved.
Students can role play insulin and glucagon functions as outlined in the activity 'Skipping into action/Jump to it' and 'Much ado about sugar' can be a role play and experiment combined to illustrate the many aspects of diabetes mellitus.
Graphical data can be used for interpretation of blood glucose levels or indeed for students to plot their own graphs and analyse them. Details can be found by clicking on the 'Blood glucose graphs' link.
This would allow exploration of M3.1 and M3.2.
All the aspects of diabetes, including its cause and possible approaches to prevent/cure the two types, can be explored as role play. This can involve a practical activity where 'urine' samples can be provided by students pretending to be patients.
The roles outlined below:
- Patients - must state symptoms and relevant lifestyle/age for each type
- Doctor/nurse - perform a urine test with glucose test strips and/or Benedicts test (this could be extended to include use of standard curves and encompass M3.3 as well as PAG9)
- Nutritionist/Personal trainer - discuss lifestyle features for type II diabetes
- Genetic counsellor - talk about the genetics of each type
- Religious leader - talk about disadvantages of pig insulin (not restricted to ethical aspects)
- Research scientist - talking about gene therapy with stem cells and/or cloning for protein production.
All students should be given particular learning outcomes relevant to their role and can perform a scenario to the rest of the class. Different roles can be chosen or picked for good differentiation.
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