Liver structure & function.

This is an inquiry lesson using mobiles devices and QR codes to reveal information about the structure and function of the liver to enable students, in groups, to answer questions. This gives the teacher more time to work as the 'guide by the side' of students. Activity two is a review activity which models one method of memorizing the details of liver function.

Lesson Description

Guiding Questions

  • Liver cells were used as a model eukaryote animal cell in topic 1. 
    How many different types of organelle do they contain?
  • Why do liver cells make better cell models than motor neurones?
  • What are the functions of rER, Golgi apparatus and lysosomes in cells?

Activity 1 - IB style questions about the function of the liver

Look at the four questions about the functions of the liver.  Students use mobile phones of tablets to research the answers from QR codes on the poster provided below  The phrases discovered can be used to explain the diagrams on each sheet and the answers to the questions. A mobile device can use a QR reader app to decode the QR codes on the poster, no internet connection is required.

Use the A3 size poster Liver structure & function poster for students to use to find out information

Liver structure and function poster image showing the decoded labels from the QR code liver poster.
Click the image to open a larger page.

Use the QR codes on the poster above, or the simple poster with visible lables to answer the Liver structure and function IB style questions below.


Activity 2 - Memory training - putting things into your brain!

"Many students today study too much, they don't trust their brain and so just keep studying. They don't know how to put things into their brian the way the brain likes it." says Idriz Zogaj.

This activity will get you thinking about the best way to train your memory.  Watch this short video clip of Idriz Zogaj explaining how he memorizes a whole pack of 52 cards by looking at them just once. We only have 14 summary points.

Learning - the way your brain likes it.

Make a fun vivid animated story to connect key words together? 
Use all your senses.
Make it 3D, something you could walk through or into.

"When your brain has fun you focus on the task ... and you reinforce the power of memory."

Here are some pairs of key words (you can decide your own pairs of words if you wish)

HepatocytesPlasma proteins
ErythrocytesBilirubin / hemoglobin
PhagocytosisKupffer cells
MicrovilliSurface area for absorption
Sinusoidsblood flow through the kidney
Hepatic portal veinHepatic artery
Storage of Vit. A & DGlucose homeostasis

Make a fun vivid animated story to connect key words together?

This is one possible "vivid, animated story"  linking the pairs together
... using all our senses, in 3D, something that you could walk through or into.

There's a hepatocyte sitting in the chair next to me, It's making a terrible mess as it's leaking plasma protein all over the chair.

That's not the only problem my friend Eric has just brought in a bucket of erythrocytes. The smell is so terrible one of the students was suddenly sick into the bucket now there's a bucket full of bile (bilirubin) and haemoglobin.

Just as I thought things would calm down in the lab another student spilled a cup of Kupffer cells - on her friend's feet. She fainted like a ghost at the site of his toes (fai - gho - site - toes -'sis!') -


Try it yourself  - if you only complete 4 or 5 steps in the story it will still help you to remember the process.

Activity 3 - Diagnostic questions about liver function

This is a table of statements and student have to select the answer of their choice - agree / disagree

Statements about the liverI'm sure that it trueI think that is trueI'm not sure if it is trueI'm sure it is not true
Bilirubin is made from the break down of old erythrocytes.
Blood travels through sinusoids in the liver.
Hepatocytes engulf red blood cells using phagocytosis.
Kupffer cells engulf red blood cells using phagocytosis
Blood enters the liver in two separate blood vessels; the hepatic artery and the hepatic portal vein.


Teacher's notes

Activity one is best if the students begin with the IB style questions at the start of the lesson.  Try and resist the temptation to explain the answers, instead say that the answers are on the poster, and the students just need some way to decode the QR code. The poster could be projected on a screen and students scan the QR code from the screen if printing in A3 isn't possible.

There are many free apps and the students don't need to have an internet connection as the QR codes contain the text.  (Link to apps on Google Play store and QR Code Reader on the itunes App Store)

It would be safest to warn the students that they will need a QR code reader for thislesson in the lesson before, so they can download the app over WIFI at home.

There are also model answers here, if you need them;

Activity two is an interesting suggestion.  Stop the video when you have seen enough to get started.

Activity three is quick and easy, could be a plenary and will show if the students have understood some of the concepts in the lesson.

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