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Homeostasis Lesson Plan
Subject Covered: Homeostasis and feedback mechanism (e.g., sweating, shivering)
Grades Appropriate: 9-12
Lesson Duration: 2-50 minute periods

Lesson Plan Activity Snapshot

Day 1 Formative Assessment, Part A & B
Day 2 Extension, Design an experiment
ACOS Objective
ACOS 5: Plan and carry out investigations to explain feedback mechanisms (e.g., sweating and shivering)
and cellular processes (active and passive transport) that maintain homeostasis.

ACOS Appendix A: Science and Engineering Practice Crosscutting Concepts

RST 1, 2

Essential Questions: How do various levels of exercise affect specific body parameters (skin color, perspiration
rate, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure) and how do they relate to maintaining homeostasis?

Background Information
Homeostasis means staying the same. The term refers to the body’s ability to maintain a stable internal
environment in response to a changing external environment.

The amount of heat produced by the human body can be affected by many factors: food consumption, the
amounts and types of hormones that are secreted and physical activity. With exercise, the amount of heat
produced by the muscles may increase enormously (hundreds of times). The heat produced in cells is picked
up and distributed throughout the body by the blood. Thus, the heat produced by metabolizing cells is the
basis of the body temperature.

Negative feedback systems allow the body to activate a mechanism to correct imbalance and restore
homeostasis. On the other hand, positive feedback systems produce unstable conditions and can operate for
only a short period of time in living systems because life depends on the maintenance of a stable internal
environment. Body temperature is controlled through a negative feedback system. As the human body heats
up, more sweat is released due to the dilation of blood vessels. Heart rate and respiration increases due to the
demand for oxygen and need to remove carbon dioxide. As the body cools down, less sweat is released due to
the constriction of blood vessels. Heart rate and respiration rate decreases once oxygen, carbon dioxide, and
the body temperature have leveled off to normal ranges. Which means homeostasis has been reached.

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Sweating is a process of thermoregulation – the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. However, the body
can also produce sweat when we are stressed, emotional or anxious

Under normal conditions our body temperature is in a state of balance or ‘equilibrium’. If our body
temperature increases due to heat from external surroundings (such as warm weather or a hot room) or
internally from exercise or strenuous activity, our body will work to cool us back down by the process of
sweating. The sweat on the surface of the body then evaporates, which helps to cool us down and bring our
temperature back to normal. However, sweat in the armpits (also known as axillary sweating), tends not to
evaporate as easily as sweating on the rest of the body, and therefore it does not play a big role in keeping us

In the brain, the cerebral cortex and sensory structures which are proprioceptors and are associated with
muscles and joints cause much of the increased breathing rate during vigorous exercise. When breathing rate
increases during exercise, increased blood flow is also required to power skeletal muscles. Thus, physical
exercise places demands on both the circulatory and respiratory systems. If either of these systems fails to
keep up with cellular demands, the person begins to feel out of breath. This feeling usually reflects inability of
the heart and circulatory system to move enough blood between the lungs and cells, rather than the
respiratory system’s inability to provide enough air.

Approximately, 80% of heat loss is through the skin. Body Temperature is normally 98.6F (37C). The
thermostat of the body is located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. When the body’s
temperature deviates from normal, information is sent from the hypothalamus to the skin. Three structures
within the skin assist in temperature regulation: the blood vessels, sweat glands, and the arrector pili muscles.
Dilating blood vessels send more blood to the skin. This activity transfers heat from the deeper tissue to the
surface of the body. The person appears flushed and sweat glands become more active. As the sweat is
evaporated from the surface of the body, heat is lost. The reverse occurs when in extreme cold temperature.
Blood vessels constrict, reducing blood flow to the skin. This response traps the blood and heat in the deeper
tissues, preventing heat loss. The sweat glands become less active, also preventing heat loss. The arrector pili
muscles contract, causing shivering and an increase in the production of heat. These activities raise body
temperature to more normal levels.

Emotions Sweating is a normal occurrence when we experience strong emotions or stress, regardless of
temperature. This type of sweating is often referred to as ‘cold sweats’. Emotions such as fear, anxiety or stress
trigger the release of the hormone adrenaline and it is this rush of adrenaline which sets off a cascade of
events in the body, one of which is sweating

Hormonal changes Puberty marks the onset of normal sweating from the apocrine glands, but other hormonal
changes, such menopause can also cause episodes of sweating. Hormonal changes during menopause lead to
a change in the body’s temperature, setting off symptoms such as hot flushes (hot flashes), night sweats and
heat intolerance. Sweating during the menopause can be so severe that it can drench clothes and bed sheets
during night time. These menopausal symptoms of sweating can greatly impact a woman’s quality of life.

Food (gustatory sweating) Eating can cause sweat secretion as the body’s temperature increases due to a rise
in the body’s metabolism. Some people find that hot and spicy food can cause an episode of sweating,
especially on the face, scalp and neck. This happens because the substance capsaicin, which is found in spicy
food, stimulates sensors in the mouth which are normally involved in thermoregulation and sweating

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Infection Our immune system reacts to a bacterial or viral infection by producing antibodies to fight infection
and kill pathogens (bacteria or viruses). This immune system activity can cause a rise in body temperature or a
fever, which causes us to sweat. A fever goes through various stages to fight infection; profuse sweating
happens at the final stages of fever when the body is working hard to cool itself down from the excess heat
produced to fight the infection and bring itself back down to a normal temperature.

Pheromones Sweat produced from the apocrine gland is thought to contain certain chemical ‘signals’, known
as pheromones, which aid in the communication of emotions, such as fear, anxiety or attraction. Pheromones
are also implicated in attracting the opposite sex.

Common Student Misconceptions

Students may confuse positive reinforcement with negative reinforcement especially if they have not studied
the human body.

Prelab Part I: Formative assessment questions
 Eight pre and post lab questions on separate handout
 Prelab should be administered prior to distributing student handouts. Post lab questions should be
answered after completing part B.

KEY Pre and Post Lab Formative Assessment

Statement Pre –lab Post lab

1. The ability of the body to maintain a stable internal environment in T F T F
response to a changing external environment is referred to as
2. Sweating causes the body temperature to rise T F T F
3. When exercising, cheeks become rosy/pink due to the constriction T F T F
of blood vessels at the surface of the skin.
4. Food consumption can increase body temperature. T F T F
5. Heart rate, respiration and blood pressure decrease during exercise. T F T F
6. Arrector pili muscles contract causing hair to stand up and “goose T F T F
bumps” to form when the body temperature is elevated.
7. Positive feedback systems produce unstable conditions and can T F T F
operate only a short period of time in living systems
8. Negative feedback systems allow the body to activate a mechanism T F T F
to correct imbalance and restore homeostasis
9. When blood sugar rises, receptors in the body sense a change. In T F T F
turn, the control center (pancreas) secretes insulin into the blood
effectively lowering blood sugar levels. Once blood sugar levels reach
homeostasis, the pancreas stops releasing insulin. This is an example
of a negative feedback system

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10. During labor, a hormone called oxytocin is released that intensifies T F T F
and speeds up contractions. The increase in contractions causes more
oxytocin to be released and the cycle goes on until the baby is born.
The birth ends the release of oxytocin. This is an example of a positive
feedback system.
 Highlighted word makes the statement false.

Prelab Part II: Literacy Strategy: Pre Reading Plan

 Reading Assignment explaining homeostasis and causes of perspiration in the human body.

1. Provide students the cue word Homeostasis to stimulate thinking.

2. Have students brainstorm words or concepts related to Homeostasis. Write all ideas on the board
or a chart.
3. After all the words and ideas are listed, go back to each word and ask the contributor why he or she
suggested the word.
4. Have students read about Homeostasis.
5. After reading, revisit the original list of words and revise as necessary.

Materials Jump Rope Stopwatch Thermometers Blood Pressure Monitors

Procedure: See student handouts pages 1 and 4.
Analysis from Student Handout
1. Each group will be assigned 2 of the 4 graphs to complete—Body Temperature; Heart Rate; Blood
Pressure [one line for diastolic (the lower number) and one line for systolic (the higher number] and
Breathing Rate. Each graph should show an increase as time passes. Each graph should decrease as
soon the intensity of exercise decreases or stops.
2. What are the changes you observed in body color and perspiration level in response to exercise?
Anticipate the body color becoming redder and the perspiration level to increase as heat is produced
by muscle contraction. Heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure should increase as well.
3. How do these changes contribute to the maintenance of homeostasis and are they a form of positive
or negative feedback? The dilation of blood vessels, causing redness at the surface of the skin, allows
more heat to be released from the skin which will help lower the body temp to its normal range. As
moisture is released and evaporated from the skin, heat is lost and the body will begin to cool down
to a normal temperature range. It is a form of negative feedback. Negative feedback systems allow
the body to activate a mechanism to correct imbalance and restore homeostasis.
4. Why does an increase in heart rate and breathing rate accompany exercise? These metabolic
processes are activated by the increased heat produced by muscle contraction. Muscles generate
heat and use oxygen with each contraction. Respiration and heart rate are increased in order to
maintain homeostasis. The increase in breathing is due to the higher demand for oxygen needed by
the muscles. The heart pumps faster to meet the demand of oxygen from the muscle tissue
5. Account for how the diastolic (lower number) and systolic (higher number) blood pressure changed
during exercise. Both values should have increased as the heart tried to pump more blood to
accommodate increased metabolic rates.
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6. By studying your parameter measurements after exercise has stopped, what conclusions can you
draw about your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis? As heat production stops, metabolism
returns to normal levels.
7. It is generally believed by some that exercising daily will improve quality and quantity of life. Explain
why you agree or disagree with this belief taking into account the effects exercise has on the
circulatory, respiratory, and muscular systems. Answers will vary.
8. Give an example of a negative or positive feedback system.

The following web site provides explanations and examples of negative and positive feedback systems.

a. Pepsinogen is an inactive protein found in the glands lining the stomach. When protein enters the
stomach, the vagus nerve impulse and the hormonal secretions of gastrin and secretin stimulates
the release of pepsinogen. Pepsinogen mixes with hydrochloric acid and is rapidly converted to
Pepsin. Pepsin is a powerful enzyme in gastric juice that digests proteins such as those in meat,
eggs, seeds and dairy products. . Pepsin increases as increasing proteins enter the stomach. This is
a positive feedback system which only occurs in the presence of protein and an acid environment for
a short period of time.

b. When blood glucose concentration is relatively high, as after a meal, insulin is released. Insulin
helps prevent too high a blood glucose concentration by promoting glycogen formation in the liver.
This also allows the entrance of glucose into adipose and muscle cells. When glucose
concentrations fall, between meals or during the night, insulin secretion decreases. The release of
insulin is an example of a negative feedback system maintaining homeostasis.

c. Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the hypothalamus of the brain. It is transported to, and
secreted by, the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain. The release
of the oxytocin during labor increases uterine motility, making the muscles of the uterus (womb)
contract. The release of oxytocin is triggered by the widening of the cervix and vagina during labor.
This effect is in turn increased by the subsequent contractions. This is an example of a positive
feedback system which only occurs for a short period of time.

d. Thrombin is formed in the blood when tissue is damaged and hemorrhaging occurs. Thrombin is
needed to help form a blood clot and stop hemorrhaging. The amount of thrombin formed in the
blood is proportional to the amount of tissue damaged. Once a blood clot begins to form, it
promotes more thrombin to be produced. This is an example of a positive feedback system which
only occurs for a short period of time.

9. Other than exercise, what can cause perspiration or sweating? Perspiration can be produced from
stress, emotions, anxiety, hormones, food consumption, infection, and pheromones.

Formative Assessment: Pre and post lab questions
Post lab questions should be completed and checked after lab.
Summative Assessment
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1. Student Data Sheet

2. Formal Lab Write-up


1. Allow students time to practice using the blood pressure monitors. Remind them to switch arms while
practicing to prevent soreness.
2. Thermometers should only be used with disposable plastic sheaths. Wipe thermometers with alcohol
after use.

1. Design an experiment to test the human body’s ability to maintain homeostasis when in a cold
environment for an extended period of time. Use evidence to justify your experiment. Answers will vary
a. What parameters will be monitored and how frequently? Students should test similar parameters
used in Part B. Answers will vary.
b. Hypothesis how lowering the body temp affects the respiratory, circulatory, and muscular systems.
Support your hypothesis with evidence from the activity or other sources.
The heart and respiration rates should decrease. The muscles will shiver to generation heat. The
arrector muscles will contract causing the hair to rise and slow down heat loss.
Blood vessels will constrict decreasing blood circulation to the surface of the skin and decreasing
heat loss.

Shier, Butler, Lewis, Hole’s Essentials of the Human anatomy and Physiology, 7th ed., McGraw Hill, 2000
Herlihy, Maebius, The Human Body in Health and Illness, WB Saunders Company, 2000.

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