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The Human Body: An Online Tour

The human body is the most fascinating and fantastic machine in existence. No one understands all of its many mysteries; and no single source can do justice to its many parts. This week, Education World tours the Web to find the best "human body" sites. You won't believe what we discovered! Included: Sites for all ages. Activities too!

Do your students know that

  • more than half the bones in the human body are in the hands and feet?
  • the highest recorded "sneeze speed" is 165 km (102 miles) per hour?
  • the heart beats about 3 billion times in the average person's lifetime?
  • a newborn baby has 350 bones, but a fully-grown adult has only 206?
  • blood is a liquid organ?
  • everyone is colorblind at birth?
  • the surface area of the lungs is approximately the same size as a tennis court?
  • food will get to your stomach even if you're standing on your head?
  • skin is the largest body organ?
  • the average adult is made up of 100 trillion cells?



Those are just a few of the fascinating facts we discovered while visiting the sites below. Want to learn more?

The Virtual Body includes interesting information about the brain, the digestive system, the heart, and the skeleton in a highly interactive format. At this site, every page provides a new adventure. Students can learn the names and functions of each part of the brain, build a human skeleton from a friendly pile of bones, organize the digestive organs, or take a narrated tour of the human heart. You'll have a hard time dragging yourself or your students (upper elementary grades and above) away from this colorful and imaginative site, but be sure to wait for each page to fully load before choosing an activity. Otherwise you'll miss half the fun. (Requires Shockwave.)

Slightly older students will enjoy a visit to BodyQuest, a fun-filled and informative exploration of the human body intended for students age 11 and above. There they can tour the human body for an overview of the major body systems, stopping frequently along the way to delve more deeply into each system's individual parts. Students will discover how each body system works and find out how each body part contributes to the functioning of the whole body. They can search for specific information, perform experiments, take a quiz, post or answer questions on a bulletin board, and chat with other BodyQuest users. The site features engaging graphics, highly readable text, and lively music. Learning has never been so easy or so much fun!

Human Anatomy Online is a fascinating and fact-filled tour of the human body for students in middle school and above. Students can click on Interactive Anatomy, choose one of several different anatomy systems, and roll a mouse over the system to learn the names and functions of various organs. Or they can choose Anatomy Lessons to tour the human body organ-by-organ. The site features colorful diagrams, extensive labels, and clear, descriptive text.

At the other end of the spectrum, Nature's Best: The Human Body, a site intended for high school students, provides a extremely comprehensive look at the human body's circulatory, digestive, immune, nervous, muscular, reproductive, respiratory, and skeletal systems. However, information for most body systems is only accessible by clicking "low band width" on the welcome page, and the information in that format is completely text-based.

Students will find fascinating facts about the human body at Health Trivia to discover a list of truly interesting trivia about the human body.



Math. Use the facts at Health Trivia to create math problems for your students. For example, you might ask How many gallons of blood does your heart pump in a week? How much longer than the large intestine is the small intestine? or How many more calories do boys need to eat in a single day than girls do?

Science. Arrange students into pairs and ask each student to trace an outline of his or her partner's body on a large piece of butcher paper. Then have each student draw (or create using construction paper) as many body organs as possible within the outline. Encourage students to label their drawings.

Word Search. Provide younger students with a copy of Teaching Master 1: Body Parts and ask them to complete the word search.

ABC Order. Continue the activity above by asking students to put the body parts in ABC order.

More science. Arrange students into groups and ask each group to create a diagram of a major body system. Combine their drawings into a book entitled "The Human Body."

Vocabulary. Provide students with a list of scientific words and terms related to the human body and ask then to find the definition for each word. Then have students use their definitions to create a personal glossary. Encourage them to illustrate as many of the words and terms as possible.

Research. Encourage older students to visit CardioDoc Play Doctor or SportsDoc Play Doctor where they can put their anatomical knowledge to work diagnosing virtual patients. Students check the appointment sheet, choose a patient, click through a list of symptoms, and then consult a variety of reference materials to reach a diagnosis.

Art. Ask students to look through magazines for pictures that show people using their senses. Then have students sort the pictures according to the particular sense most evident in the picture. Arrange students into groups, provide each group with one category of pictures, and ask the groups to use the pictures to create a collage.

Health. Briefly discuss with students the major body systems and review how those systems function. Brainstorm a list of things kids can do to keep their bodies functioning smoothly. Ask each student to write and illustrate one health or safety rule they can follow. Display the rules on a classroom bulletin board.



The following Web sites are resources you might use for teaching about the human body. Be sure to check all Web sites for appropriateness before sharing them with students.

The Heart

The Heart: An Online Exploration
This site includes everything you ever wanted to know about the human heart.



Yucky Kids Site: Muscular System
This site describes what muscles do and how they move. Also how many the body has.

The Muscle Page for Kids
This site includes an animation on how muscles work, descriptions of some of the more common muscles (along with a pronunciation guide), and lots of fun muscle facts. Note: Some people have expressed concern about using this site because its photo-illustrations show a young girl who is not wearing a T-shirt. We have left this link here for those who might not be offended by the illustrations; the illustrations aside, the content is valuable and written for children to use.


The Brain

The Human Brain
Students can click a lobe to learn the names, locations, and functions of different parts of the brain.

Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling the World
This site, for older students, contains lots of information and graphics about the brain, specifically geared toward the senses. The large, detailed graphics make this site slow to load, but the site is highly informative.


The Eye

Anatomy of the Eye
The eye can be compared to a camera. They both gather light and transform it into a picture that we can interpret. They both focus the incoming light with the help of a lens. The eye uses the retina to produce an image whilst the camera uses film. To learn more about the inner workings of the eye, just click on the name of the corresponding part in the animation on this Web resource from LensShopper.

Infographic: Eye Injury Facts, Myths and Prevention Tips
Learn how to prevent common eye injuries.


The Cell

Cells Alive!
Students can scroll to the Table of Contents and choose a topic such as OUCH! (anatomy of a splinter) to view great graphics and learn about different kinds of cells.


Sickness and Health

Bandaids and Blackboards
A must for any classroom attended by kids with serious or chronic medical problems. The colorful, kid-oriented site includes sections on some of the more common chronic diseases, on hospital stays, on teasing, and on what it's like to live with a chronic disease.

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
This text-based site provides lots of information, written for kids, about smoking, its effects on the body, and the tactics used by tobacco companies to hook kids.

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

Related Sites

The Visible Human Project
The site provides anatomically detailed three-dimensional representations of the male and female human body.

Kids' Health Organization
This site offers a variety of information about the human body and its care, for parents, teachers, and students of all ages.

Health Hotlist
Links to many additional sites related to the human body. Topics include nutrition, fitness, AIDS, diseases, drugs and alcohol, and health and body background information. The teacher resources section includes several lesson plan links as well.


Originally published 05/25/98
Last updated 06/16/2009