IGCSE: Biological Science: Revision Session for Bones

anatomy, physiology, bones

The following is the specification for the Edexcel Human Biology IGCSE.  Part Four is all to do with Form and Movement and requires the student to learn all about bones, muscles and joints.  We have done a fairly in depth study of bones previously and covered waaay more than is required we know.  Never the less, I wanted to do a quick revision to make sure we had the exact information required for the exam.

The specification (Edexcel Human Biology) reads as follows:

Form and Movement: Bones, Muscles and Joints

Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a) Recall the main parts of the skeleton: axial skeleton (vertebral column, ribcage and skull), appendicular skeleton (scapula, clavicle, pelvis and limbs) and the structure of a long bone.
b) Describe the functions of the skeleton using examples from the list above.
c) Explain the functions of joints using the elbow, shoulder and a cartilaginous intervertebral joint as examples.
d) Describe the structure of a synovial joint.
e) Explain the relationship between voluntary muscles and bones to bring about movement, illustrated by the biceps and triceps muscles and associated bones in the arm and shoulder.
f) Recall the dietary factors controlling the healthy development of muscle and bone.

Our older study of the bones can be found here

Main Parts of the Skeleton

The children need to know where both the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton are.  So we built up Billy Bones:

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We discussed which parts made up the axial and which parts made up the appendicular.  I had them point out and describe until they knew it off by heart.

I asked the children to point out the specific bones which Edexcel require them to know.  These included three from the axial skeleton (vertebral column, ribcage and skull) and three from the appendicular skeleton (scapula (shoulder-blade), clavicle (collar-bone) and the pelvis) as well as the separate arm bones (humerus, radius and ulna) and leg bones (Femur, patella, tibia and fibula, tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges).

I made labels for them to stick to their skeleton’s bones:

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And finally I had them build the X-ray again (we use Roylco Inc. R-5911 True To Life Human X-Rays)  and label those bones:

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We didn’t move on until I was sure they knew these bones!

Structure of a Long Bone

We did a lot of work on the structure of a bone last time, when we built our own model from paper mache:

long bone model

Using this model I asked them to revise what each part was called and each give a clear presentation explaining briefly each section:

bone structure


We discussed the importance of the structure and redid a simple experiment using straws and a sheet of paper.  Basically you stick lots of straws along a sheet of paper and roll it up as shown:

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We then attempted to see just how much weight/pressure this homemade very crude version of a bone could take:

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We discussed why it was so strong and yet so light and discussed why both these characteristics were important.

Functions of a Skeleton

The specification requires the student to know about the functions of the bones, making reference to the previous bones mentioned.  We brainstormed our list, asking for the function and which part of the skeletal system could illustrate the function:

  • Protection (ribcage)
  • Shape (femur)
  • Support (vertebral column)
  • Movement (radius and fibula)
  • Blood production (produced in the bone marrow of some bones)

For a fun way to remember I wrote the functions down on pieces of paper and gave one out to each child.  They had to mime the role of bones and point to a bone which demonstrated that particular function well, and the others had to guess what the function and bone was.

Hand Out 

Using the information I have on my blog I made a hand out for the children which would make a perfect revision tool.

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If anyone else would like to use it, feel free to download here: Bones

Checking Knowledge with Past Papers

And finally I checked through all the past papers and collected a few questions I found about bones, which the children quickly filled in with the promise of a hot chocolate and marshmallows.

There’s nothing like a bit of bribery and corruption in one’s home school 😉

You can find all the past papers here.

Next week we will be covering muscles.

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