Mapping Your Organs and Mystery Meat

Digestive system

Engaging Students in Grade 10 Organs & Organ Systems. By Leila Knetsch

Curriculum Connection: Grade 10 D/P Science, Cells and Tissues Unit

Diagnostic Map Your Organs
Main Lesson Lesson: Organs and Organ Systems – focus on Circulatory, Respiratory, Digestive, and Excretory systems (comparative anatomy)
Closing Mystery Supermarket Meat

A: Diagnostic: Map Your Organs

Materials: Chart paper and markers


  1. Group students into groups of 3 or 4.
  2. Instruct them to trace an outline of the torso of one of their group members and then draw in as much of the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory system as they can.
  3. Have groups report back to the class at large.
  4. Post organ system artwork around the room.

I used, “Map your Organs”, as a diagnostic to get students to see what their previous knowledge was about three organ systems (Respiratory, Circulatory, and Digestive Systems).  I enjoy seeing if they make the connections between the circulatory and respiratory systems especially and whether or not they have an entrance and exit point when they draw the digestive system.  You can use any organ system; I have asked them to connect the Reproductive System before, which is truly interesting.  Three systems is probably the maximum.  Encourage students to not worry/be embarrassed if they get it wrong as the purpose is to find out what they know.

B: Main lesson – Organs and Organ Systems

Have your usual lesson here.

C: Mystery Meat

Materials: Fresh organs such as kidney, liver, heart (bovine, porcine, chicken), intestines, stomach/cow tripe, testicles (not always available) can be purchased at any grocery store but Asian supermarkets seem to have the best variety.


Option A: Sketch and describe the function of each organ.   The chicken hearts can be dissected.  Types of tissues can also be identified.

Option B: Mystery meat

  1. Lay each organ on a wax dissection tray around the room with a number associated with each.
  2. Place a blunt probe and tweezers for students to move around the organs.
  3. Issue students some scrap paper or a large sticky note.
  4. Instruct students to examine each organ (in pairs) and try to identify them (which organ and which animal).
  5. Do a big reveal at the end.

I usually have students pass around the organs and sketch them – it usually makes a big impression on them.  My student teacher, Ruman Texiwala (from Queen’s University), suggested tweaking the idea by having them guess which organ it was.  I found that what happened was that it promoted a lot of curiousity and conversation, more than ever before.  Students were talking to each other about the types of food that they ate and so there were conversations about cultural food.  We have many Asian students at our school that eat different organ meats but some of the Muslim or students of Caribbean extractions were also able to make interesting connections.   The discussions were very rich and the students enjoyed the big reveal at the end.

What I would change: next time I would spread out these activities since it was a lot to squeeze into one 75 minute period.  I would do the following sequence instead:

Day 1: Map your organs, plus Organs and Organ Systems lesson part 1

Day 2: Show inflatable pig lungs, do Organ and Organ Systems lesson part 2, and Mystery meat

Day 3: Explore some STSE issues involving organ transplantation and black market organs; perhaps have a Flip Debate (2 on 2 mini debates) on presumed consent/Opt out vs. status quo/opt in system

Day 4: Have Gift of Life Ontario do a presentation

By Leila Knetsch