Welcome to the Wikiversity Digestive System learning project.
Learning Project Summary
This page links to Wikiversity learning resources that are related to the important biological function of digestion. The goal of this project is to provide a complete learning path from the most basic introduction to digestion through increasingly sophisticated treatments of the topic. The most basic learning resources concern what you may not tell a young child who first asks about what happens to eaten food. The most advanced learning resources concern on-going research into digestive system function.
Short description of the digestive system
Young children often express curiosity about the human digestive system. Young children can be introduced to the major body parts of the digestive system and their functions. Very young children can learn about the role of muscles and bones that allow people to consume food. They can be introduced to the concept that the body has internal organs for absorbing nutrients from food and that this is vital for the body's health.
The digestive system starts at the mouth and the role of saliva in digestion of carbohydrates is one of the first laboratory demonstrations in many introductory biology classes. Even young children can demonstrate for themselves that saliva starts to break down the starch of a cracker into sugars. When introducing students to the digestive functions of the human stomach, the key chemical concept of acidity can be introduced. How does the stomach use a powerful acid to digest food without digesting itself?
Older students can learn about the digestive functions of the pancreas and the liver and the general concept of multiple digestive enzymes and other molecules produced by organs of the digestive system which help to break down food molecules. The nutrient absorbing function of the intestines can be related to the roles of vitamins and minerals in human health.
- Lesson 1: Nutrition