Teaching Strategies, Tactics, and Methods

What is an Ellipse Shape?

An ellipse has no edges, but it’s not a circle. More oval than a circle, but yet it’s not an oval. Read on to find out what an ellipse shape is.

What is an Ellipse Shape?

It was a Greek mathematician, Menaechmus, who first discovered the ellipse shape in 300BC. However, it wasn’t until around 100BC that Apollonius gave the ellipse shape its name in his infamous book ‘Conics.’

An ellipse is a shape that has two focal points, known as foci. These foci don’t ever move from where they are. And there’s a third point, which is away from the foci. Imagine a piece of string joining all three points to form a triangle.

Next, get a pencil to stand on the third point. This means it’s in one of the triangle’s three corners that the string has made.

Then move the pencil around the outside of the foci, yet still within the string. When the pencil returns to its original position, you have formed an ellipse shape.

The ellipse shape is an interesting one that, at first glance, could be confused for being a circle or even an oval. But it’s distinct in its own right, and we’ll explain why. We first need to look at the process and oval to do this.

What’s the difference between a circle and an ellipse?

A circle is a flat two-dimensional (2D) shape that’s curved and flat. All the points on a process are of equal distance to its center, like in the diagram below.

Although an ellipse is also a 2D shape that’s curved and flat, it doesn’t have all points that meet the center being of equal distance. Instead, the way it’s shaped means that when you add the length of the foci, they’re always the same.

Although both shapes can be different sizes, the ellipse shape can vary from very oval to very round. However, if both foci are in the same place in an ellipse, it’s no longer an ellipse but a circle.

What’s the difference between an oval and an ellipse?

All ellipse shapes are ovals, but interestingly enough, not all are ellipses. This is because when an ellipse’s size is fixed, the line that forms its perimeter cannot be changed. This means it can only be drawn one way, whereas an oval’s perimeter only has to be a concave curve and doesn’t have a fixed size.

What’s the Ellipse Shape used for?

  • Ellipses are used a lot in physics and engineering.
  • The shapes of boat keels, rudders, and even plane wings are often ellipse shapes.
  • When it comes to astronomy, the ellipse shape is essential. This is because celestial objects periodically orbit around other celestial objects, and they all trace out ellipse shapes when doing this.
  • Planets orbiting the sun make an ellipse shape when traveling around it, with the sun at one focus point.
  • Ellipses also represent comets, satellites, and moons.
  • We even cut food in a way that forms an ellipse shape. For example, consider how you cut a carrot or cucumber into slices; many of us miss it at an angle or it ends up cutting it that way, and when we do, that’s an ellipse.
  • Elliptical trainers also mimic the ellipse shape in the motion it makes when simulating running or walking. Using this exercise machine, your foot forms an elliptical path through its movement.

What is the Nervous System?

The human nervous system is a system of organs made up of the brain, spinal cord, and a massive network of nerves. This organ system is vital: we need our nervous systems to allow us to move, respond to sensory information, and much more! Read on to learn more about the nervous System.

What’s the Human Nervous System Made Of?

The human nervous system is made up of two distinct categories: the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which is made up of a massive network of nerves that branch off the spinal cord and extend throughout our entire bodies.

The Central Nervous System (CNS)

The central nervous system consists of two main parts: the brain and the spinal cord. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into each of these sections:

The brain

The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls our thoughts, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates our body. The brain consists of four main parts:

  • The brain stem

The brain stem is another key aspect of the body’s central nervous system. It is located between the pons, a mass of transverse nerve fibers connecting the brain stem with the cerebellum and the spinal cord.

  • The cerebrum

The cerebrum makes up most of the brain and is supported by the brain stem. It can be divided into two distinct hemispheres, each of which controls the activities of the opposite side of the body.

The hemispheres are then divided further into four lobes, known as:

  • Frontal lobe
  • Temporal lobes
  • Parietal lobe
  • Occipital lobe
  • The cerebellum

The cerebellum is located behind and below the cerebrum. It coordinates voluntary movements and motor skills such as balance, coordination, and posture.

  • The diencephalon

The diencephalon is the part of the brain that connects the midbrain to the forebrain. It is located deep within the brain and contains the epithalamus, thalamus, subthalamus, and hypothalamus.

You may have heard the word ‘matter’ used when talking about the brain. The brain contains two types of matter: grey matter and white matter. Both of these types of matter work together to help the brain function. For instance, grey matter is responsible for receiving and storing the body’s impulses, while white matter carries these impulses to and from the grey matter.

The spinal cord

The spinal cord is the second component of the body’s central nervous system. The spinal cord is divided into 31 smaller segments, each with a pair of spinal nerves. Both motor and sensory nerves can be found within the spinal cord.

Other parts of the central nervous system

Aside from the brain and spinal cord, other body parts are included within the central nervous system. The meninges, for example, are the three layers of membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. The outermost layer of the meninges is called the dura mater, the middle layer is called the arachnoid, and the innermost layer is called the pia mater. The function of the meninges is to protect the brain and the spinal cord by forming a barrier against bacteria and other microorganisms.

The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is also part of the central nervous system. This fluid circulates the brain and spinal cord, protecting and nourishing them.

The Peripheral Nervous System

The second part of the human nervous system is the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is made up of two parts:

  • Somatic Nervous System
  • Autonomic nervous system

Somatic nervous system

Within the somatic nervous system is a range of peripheral nerve fibers that pick up sensory information from the peripheral organs, i.e., organs far away from the brain. These fibers then carry this sensory information to the central nervous system.

The somatic nervous system also contains motor nerve fibers from the brain and transports messages for movement and necessary action to the skeletal muscles.

Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is another part of the human nervous system. It contains three parts:

  • The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system controls bodily functions when a person is at rest.
  • The enteric nervous system: This has many functions, including controlling motor functions, local blood flow, mucosal transport and secretions, and modulating immune and endocrine functions.

The autonomic nervous system controls the nerves of the body’s inner organs, which humans have no conscious control over. These inner organs include the heartbeat, digestion, and breathing, excluding conscious breathing.

The enteric nervous system is an extremely complex network of nerve fibers that supply the abdomen’s organs, like the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and gall bladder, with nerves. There are almost 100 million nerves in the enteric nervous system.


The entire human nervous system is built on the back of a specialized neuron cell.

As you can see in this diagram, neurons have a long, tail-like extension called an axon, and they end in tiny branching protrusions called dendrites. These two parts allow neurons to communicate with each other, even over long distances. In addition, big bundles of axons are found throughout the body, helping to organize signals from any individual body part, which forms our “nerves.” Our brains contain 86 billion neurons on average – a staggering amount of cells organized into smaller structures to manage the different processes we need to survive.

The body has different types of neurons for different tasks: motor neurons transmit messages from the brain to the muscles to generate movement. Meanwhile, sensory neurons detect light, sound, odor, taste, pressure, and heat and send messages about those things to the brain. Other parts of the nervous system control involuntary movements that are still essential for keeping our bodies alive, such as keeping a regular heartbeat, releasing hormones like adrenaline, opening the pupil in response to light, and regulating the digestive system.

How Does the Nervous System Work?

Let’s start by explaining how messages travel between our neurons, allowing messages to travel throughout the body. When a neuron sends a message to another neuron, it sends an electrical signal down the length of its axon. At the end of the axon, the electrical signal changes to a chemical signal. The axon then releases the chemical signal with chemical messengers called neurotransmitters into the synapse —the space between the end of an axon and the tip of a dendrite from another neuron. The neurotransmitters move the signal through the synapse to the neighboring dendrite, which converts the chemical signal back into an electrical signal. The electrical signal then travels through the neuron and goes through the same conversion processes as it moves to neighbor neurons, allowing messages to travel throughout the body. Although it sounds complicated, this can all happen in a fraction of a second!

The messages are transmitted from the peripheral nerves into the body and then to the Spinal Cord. The Spinal Cord has an extremely large amount of neurons that carry messages back to the brain and organize all the input from nerves all over the body into one channel of information – think of it as a big motorway that lots of smaller roads filter into, taking traffic directly to a single destination, and allowing traffic from that destination to get to remote places quickly. Once the message has arrived at the brain, the brain can analyze and make sense of the information transmitted from the peripheral nervous system, work out a response, and then send out instructions with the appropriate response.

It’s easier to make sense of this remarkable process with an example. Say, for instance, that you’re moving your hand toward a hot stove. Sensory neurons in your hand will detect the heat and send the signal back through the network of nerves in your hand to increasingly large nerve bundles until the message telling the brain that your hand is about to touch something hot reaches the spinal cord. Then, from the spinal cord, the information is transferred up the spinal cord to your brain, where the brain recognizes the message and forms a response: move your hand away from the heat.

The brain then sends this message through the neurons in the brain back to the spinal cord, and through the spinal cord, to the motor neurons in hand. These motor neurons then instruct the muscles in the hand and arm to pull away from the hot stove, preventing you from getting burned. All of this happens in just a few seconds, and you don’t need to think about it consciously!

Why Do We Need a Nervous System?

The nervous system plays a vital role within the body since it effectively controls everything that happens within the body. The brain coordinates all bodily functions, from breathing to movement to complex activities like solving complicated mathematics puzzles. The nerves’ network carries information and instructions from the brain to our organs and limbs and carries sensory information back to the brain.

Both are essential for our continued survival: without our nervous systems, we’d be unaware of the world around us, unable to sense anything, move, respond to stimuli, or even breathe!

10 Easter and Spring Classroom Door Ideas we Love!

1) “Hop in. We’re going to have an eggcellent day!” This inspirational Easter classroom door is hugely popular with our followers, and we can see why; it’s super cute and colorful!

2) This lovely flower pot display creates a great collaborative classroom art project. Each student can make a flower and add a photo if they like. It is such a lovely way to welcome your class during Spring.

3) This classroom door is one of our favorites. Who wouldn’t want to enter a classroom with this cute chicken greeting you?

4) “We are all unique and beautiful, but together we are a masterpiece.” This lovely display uses a handprint from each student to form the flower’s petals. Not only does this express a touch of Spring, but it also highlights the importance of diversity and acceptance.

5) This colorful flower garland is sure to put a smile on your student’s faces and certainly brightens up the room!

6) This Frozen-inspired door is a great way to get students excited about entering the classroom. What’s also great is you can remove the ears and carrot to reuse Olaf on your door throughout the year – a great time-saving trick!

7) “Learning Gives You Wings to Fly.” We love this butterfly design which ties together Spring and minibeasts perfectly. Why not get your students to make their butterflies add to the door?

8) This classroom door includes all the rainbow colors- helping children remember seasons and colors as they enter the classroom.

9) Why not welcome your class with an eye-catching Easter bunny? We love it! We also have a ready-made pack to help you with this design. Take a look >>

10) “Thank you for helping us grow.” It is a lovely Spring design that also includes a giant ruler, allowing children to track how much they grow over the years.

What is a Participle?

A participle is a non-finite verb that can be used as an adjective.

The two types of participle are the present participle (ending ing) and the past participle (ending ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n).

Participles can appear as standalone words or as participle phrases.

Examples of Participles

Participle Phrases

Participles are commonly found in participle phrases.

These are phrases that also act as an adjective.

  • The girl wearing the scarf is my sister.
    • The word ‘wearing’ is the verb, and the participle phrase describes the sister.
  • Winded by the impact, Harry gathered his breath.
    • ‘Winded’ is the verb, and the act of being winded describes Harry.

What is a Quadratic Equation?

A quadratic equation is a collection of terms typically involving one letter, an equals sign, and some numbers. The letter represents an unknown, and you find its value when you solve an equation.

What is an example of an equation?

Simple linear equations are:

  • x+3=5
  • 2x-3=11

The solution to those are:

  • x=2
  • x=7

How do I solve quadratic equations?

A quadratic equation again involves a collection of numbers and letters with an equal sign. In addition, it will have a squared unknown term, which will be the novel’s highest power – what qualifies it as quadratic.

Examples of quadratic equations are:

  • x^2+10x=-16
  • 3y^2-4y+6=0

Quadratic equations are harder to solve than linear equations because making x the subject is trickier. We can solve quadratic equations by:

  • factorizing
  • using the quadratic formula
  • completing the square

Quadratic equations typically offer two solutions, but some give only one, and others don’t.

What is the quadratic formula, and what is it used for?

The quadratic formula allows us to solve the general quadratic equation

By substituting into this formula:

The ± sign tells us to perform the calculation once with a plus and then with a minus; this typically gives two different answers for x.

For example, in the equation

Substituting into the quadratic formula gives

which simplifies to x = 5 or x = 2.

What is Distillation?

Simple distillation enables a liquid to be separated from a solution. First, the solution is heated until the solution with the lowest boiling point evaporates. Then, the vapor is cooled and condenses (turns back into a liquid). Finally, this liquid can be collected, leaving the remaining solution in the flask.

What would happen if the mixture was heated to a temperature higher than the boiling points of both substances?

  • Both liquids will evaporate and then mix again.

Why can distillation separate a mixture of water and ethanol?

  • Ethanol and water have very different boiling points.
  • The solution with the lowest boiling point will reach its boiling point first and start to evaporate.
  • It can then be condensed and collected, separating the mixture.

What is fractional distillation?

Fractional distillation can separate a mixture of liquids with close boiling points.

The liquid with the lowest boiling point will evaporate first. As its boiling point is reached, it changes from a liquid state to a gaseous state.

Why is the fractionating column filled with glass rods?

  • The glass rods provide a larger surface area for condensation and evaporation.

When will children learn about distillation?

Children will learn about distillation during Chemistry lessons in KS3 and KS4. An example of an exam-style question a child may encounter on distillation is;

The answer they would need to give has been written in blue.

How do I Calculate The Volume of Cylinders?

The Volume of Cylinders

Learn how to find the volume of a cylinder with this teaching wiki. Also, find links to plenty of useful volume of cylinder resources.

There are a few things to remember when understanding how to work out the volume of cylinders. First, a cylinder is a circular prism. Like other prisms, it is a two-dimensional shape stretched into a third dimension.

Both ends and any cross-section (a cross-section is what you get if you cut the cylinder at any point along its length) are identically sized circles.

It means you can calculate the volume of a cylinder (the space contained within the 3D shape) like any other prism: find the area of the end, then multiply that by the third dimension (the height or the depth, depending on the orientation).

Example 1:

Find the volume of the cylinder below. Give your answer to 1 decimal place.

We’ll start by finding the area of the circular face. It has a radius of 4m, so we can substitute that into the formula for the area of a circle:

  • Area = π × r²
  • Area = π × 4²
  • Area = 50.265… m²

The question asks for an answer to 1 decimal place, but we still have another calculation, so we won’t round yet.

We can imagine our cylinder as a circle of area of about 50m2 that has been stretched downwards by 10m. To find the volume, we take our area and multiply it by the height:

  • The volume of a prism = area of cross-section × height
  • Volume = 50.265… × 10
  • Volume = 502.65…
  • Volume = 502.3 m³ (to 1 decimal place)

There are two things to note about this answer. Firstly, if we’d rounded our area to 1 decimal place (50.3), then we would have got a volume of 503m3 instead of 502.3m3 – in an exam, you’d lose a mark for that.

Secondly, our units. Any volume must be given in cubed units, for example, m3, cm3, or m3, or sometimes in liters (as 1 liter is the same as 1000 cm3).

Example 2:

A sweet, cylindrical container has a length of 12cm and a diameter of 1.5cm. Find its volume. Give your answer to 1 decimal place.

This time you need to be careful. We need the radius to find a circle’s area or a cylinder’s volume. In this case, we have been given the diameter. The radius is half the diameter:

  • radius = diameter ÷ 2
  • radius = 1.5 ÷ 2
  • radius = 0.75cm

This time, we will use a formula for the volume. The volume of a cylinder is the area of the front face multiplied by the height (h) or length (l). Therefore we can say:

  • Volume = Area × length
  • Volume = π × r² × l
  • Volume = πr²l

Substituting our values gives us the following:

  • Volume = π × 0.75² × 12
  • Volume = 21.2cm³ (1d.p.)

Example 3:

A cylindrical grain silo has a radius of 10m and a height of 15m. Find its volume in terms of π.

Because π is an irrational number (it never ends and never repeats), you will have to round your answer any time you calculate using it. Sometimes, you might need to use your solution in future analyses, so you don’t want to round it. In this case, you can leave your answer in terms of π. It is also how questions are often presented in non-calculator exams.

First, we can find the area of the top of our cylinder, as usual:

  • Area = π × r²
  • Area = π × 100
  • Area = 100π m²

When leaving our answer in terms of pi, we do the other calculations (102 = 100) without multiplying by pi. Pi is still in our response, and if we wanted, we could use it to calculate the volume numerically.

We have the area of the top (and bottom) of our cylinder; now we multiply by the height:

  • The volume of a prism = area of a cross-section × height
  • Volume = 100π × 15
  • Volume = 1500π m³

At this point, we have our answer in terms of pi. Therefore, we don’t need to do any further calculations.

What are Crustaceans?

Crustaceans are mainly water-dwelling animals with a hard, segmented exterior body known as an exoskeleton. Crustaceans are a member of the arthropod family, and there are roughly 67,000 recorded species of Crustacea on the planet. All crustaceans are made up of three major body parts: The head, thorax, and abdomen. In addition, crustaceans have two sets of antennae, and most breathe through gills, although some crabs have developed lungs to live on land.

What are arthropods?

Arthropods are invertebrates that have segmented bodies and paired, joined appendages. Arthropods are typically split into Arachnids, crustaceans, Hexapoda (insects and springtails), and Myriapoda (millipedes and centipedes). Arthropods got their name from the root Latin word Arthropoda, which means ‘those with jointed feet.’ Around 800,000 recorded species of arthropods can be found in all areas of the world.

Types of aquatic crustaceans

Many aquatic crustaceans can be found in rivers, lakes, and oceans. But here are a few of the most well-known crustaceans which you can discuss in your classroom:


Lobsters live in the sea and are often found on the seabed (lobsters can swim but mostly walk along the seabed). They live in crevasses or borrows and mostly come out at night to hunt and feed. Lobsters are typically dark blue/green to help them blend in with their environments; it’s not until they are cooked that they get their pink color. Lobsters never stop growing in their natural habitat and continue until they die – the largest lobster ever recorded was a whopping 20 kg. However, once a lobster is caught, it will stop growing.


Crabs can live in the sea, freshwater, and land. Crabs can vary in size from the tiny pea crab, which is only a few millimeters wide, to the Japanese spider crab, which can have a leg span of 13ft! Crabs are omnivores that mostly eat algae but also hunt and eat worms, mollusks, and other crustaceans. There are roughly 4,500 species of crab, and it can be found worldwide from shallow waters to deep seas, to polar waters to the tropics. In addition, there are about 450 species of crab have evolved to live in freshwater and on land.


Prawns have ten legs, long antennae, and two bulbous black eyes that sit on stalks. These eyes are compound eyes that give prawns a panoramic view to detect movement. Prawns can be found in all habitats, including the sea floor, freshwater lakes, and rivers. Although prawns can vary from 2 cm to 25 cm, these large prawns are often targeted for human consumption.


Barnacles are exclusively marine crustaceans and can be found in shallow and tidal waters with a lot of activity. They attach themselves to various things, such as the bottom of boats, rocks, eroding sea infrastructure, and other creatures. They secrete a fast-setting cement, allowing them to stick to things quickly. The glue is so powerful that scientists are trying to discover how to use it commercially. Barnacles feed by pushing out an appendage called cirri. It sweeps the area for microscopic organisms and withdraws back into their protective shell. Barnacles main predators are whelks, snails, and starfish.

Land crustaceans

Most crustaceans are aquatic; however, as mentioned above, some crabs have evolved to live on land and water. The only crustacean that has come to live exclusively on land is the woodlouse. Woodlice can be found in cool, damp habitats such as rotting vegetation and wood. The woodlice don’t breathe using lungs; it has gills covered in a thin layer of water to allow them to breathe properly – which is why woodlice prefer damp, moist environments. Woodlice eat rotting plants and fungi and are eaten by spiders, toads, shrews, and centipedes.

Crustaceans in the food chain

Most crustaceans are scavengers; they eat scraps and dead creatures on sea beds and at the bottom of lakes and rivers. Crabs, shrimp, and prawns often search for food and night and hide in enclosed crevasses during the day. Most scientists thought lobsters were also scavengers. However, they have since been discovered to be predators/ are predators. They use their powerful claws to catch prey and eat fish, clams, mussels, and sometimes other lobsters!

Crustaceans are an important food source for a whole host of other animals. Eels and some fish equipped to deal with crustacean’s tough outer shells, like pufferfish and triggerfish, eat crustaceans. Octopuses, seals, turtles, and rays all hunt and eat crustaceans in the sea, and they are also under threat from land animals too! Monkeys, rats, and raccoons all hunt for crustaceans whenever possible. And, of course, they are a big part of the human food chain. Roughly 10 million tons of crustaceans are produced yearly from farming and fishing for human consumption.

How do crustaceans grow?

Crustaceans replace their exoskeletons with new ones to grow – this is a process called molting. Crustaceans molt away their old exoskeleton and wait for a new one to be formed. However, crustaceans are vulnerable to predators while their new exoskeleton is hardening, and they can’t defend themselves. Most crustaceans molt around 15 – 25 times to reach their full size. But, apart from lobsters, as we have already learned, they can keep growing.

How do crustaceans reproduce?

Most crustaceans reproduce sexually with a male and a female. Most female crustaceans lay eggs that hatch into swimming larvae, but prawn eggs hatch into small versions of themselves. Barnacles are hermaphrodites, so they can produce their sperm and eggs to reproduce. Some crustaceans use visual stimulus to attract mates; crabs use their claws to ‘wave’ at their chosen potential mating partner. Others attract their mates using pheromones; a female lobster will waft pheromone-laced urine into a male lobster’s dwelling; if he likes the scent, he will let her in!

Australian Crustaceans

There are lots of Australian crustaceans which dwell in and around Australia. Most are different species of lobster and prawn but are native to Australia and its surrounding waters. Here are a few Australian Crustaceans which you might have heard of:

Common yabby

These Australian freshwater crayfish are found in streams, billabongs, and lakes and are popular to eat in Australia; they provide an alternative to prawn, crab, and lobster. They can survive in dry conditions during droughts by burrowing deep in muddy creeks and river beds and lying dormant.

Ibacus peronii

The Ibacus peronii is more commonly known as the Balmain bug and is a type of lobster. These can be found in shallow waters around the coast of Australia. These crustaceans have broad, flat bodies and can reach lengths of up to 23 cm and widths between 10 – 14 cm. Although these are nocturnal creatures who eat algae and other crustaceans, they spend most of the daytime under sand or mud.

Giant freshwater prawn

These can be found in northern Australia and are commonly known as cherabin in Australia. These can also be found in India and Southeast Asia. Cherabin can grow up to 30 cm in length and feature a front pair of elongated legs used as feeding appendages. They are often dark brown, but some vary in color, and others display faint vertical stripes.

What is the Digestive System?

The food we eat must be broken down into other substances that our bodies can use, and any waste must be removed. It is called digestion. If we didn’t digest our food, we couldn’t use it and turn it into energy.

In short, the digestive system moves food and drink from the mouth, through the throat, into the stomach, the small intestine, and finally into the large intestine. At each stage, nutrients are pulled from the body to be used by the body.

The digestive system is the system for digestion in the human body; it describes how we break down our food. The digestive system is the name given to all the apparatus which enables our bodies to do this.

How Does the Digestive System Work?

There are seven parts to the digestive system, each vital in transporting our food through the human body, absorbing important nutrients, and removing waste. Digestion in the human body involves the following body parts, organs, and muscles:

  • mouth;
  • esophagus;
  • stomach;
  • small intestine;
  • liver;
  • gall bladder;
  • large intestine.

How does the Human Body control Digestion?

Hormones and nerves work together to control the digestive system. Hormones tell the parts of the body, like the stomach, to make digestive liquids like stomach acid.

Nerves connect the brain to the digestive system. The brain sends signals to the different parts of the process, causing them to begin working. For example, the brain triggers the salivary glands to produce saliva once the food is smelt. Spit allows us to break down food and prepare it for its journey through the digestive system.

What is the journey of food through the digestive system?

The 7 Stages of the Digestive System

The human digestive system comprises seven distinct stages; food or water we ingest will go through these seven stages (the journey of food through the digestive system). Each stage has a unique function: to make the food safe to travel through our body and pull out any nutrients our body needs.

Children are expected to understand the digestive system at KS2. To know how digestion works, you’ll need to understand the seven stages of the digestive system.


The first stage of the journey of food through the digestive system is the mouth. It is where the food begins its digestive process.

In the mouth, food is chewed to make it softer and smaller, so it can be swallowed and will not get stuck in the intestines. To do this, the mouth needs assistance:

  • The tongue is a muscle in the mouth, covered with thousands of taste buds. It helps to push food into the throat.
  • Your teeth allow us to break down food so that it is smaller and easier to digest.
  • The salivary gland produces saliva, which softens our food and helps us swallow it.


The second stage of digestion in the human body is the esophagus. From here, the digestive process becomes automatic, which means you don’t need to think about doing it; your brain will automatically send messages to the muscles in your body to continue the process.

The esophagus is a tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus has muscles that work in waves to move food safely down to the stomach and stop anything from getting stuck. This process is called peristalsis.

What is Peristalsis?

  • The esophagus has a layer of muscle that creates a wave-like motion to squeeze food down it.
  • This muscle layer means that food would get to your stomach even if you were standing on your head!
  • The esophagus also creates a slimy mucus that oozes out to help the food make its way down.
  • The esophagus is about 25 cm long.


The stomach is a very important organ in the food journey through the digestive system. First, the stomach will fill up with the food that has traveled down the esophagus and cover it in special enzymes and liquids. These enzymes kill many harmful microorganisms that might have been swallowed along with the food. When the stomach eventually breaks down food, it becomes a porridge-like substance called chyme.

The stomach is a very strong organ; it is not affected by the strong acid it produces (which can break down most substances).

After the chyme comes out of the stomach, it goes into the duodenum. Here, it continues to be broken down. The duodenum also connects to other organs in the journey, such as the liver, the gall bladder, and the pancreas.


The liver is a factory for your body; it uses chemicals to change food into substances that your body can use for energy. It also removes the things that are useless or toxic to your body. For example, the liver produces a liquid called bile, which aids digestion and helps to absorb fats.

Gall Bladder

The gall bladder is a small pouch that sits just under your liver. It is where the bile that the liver produces is stored.

The Small Intestine

Only after the food has been properly broken down and the liver has absorbed all the useful nutrients is it ready to go into the small intestine. This part of the journey comprises a long, stretchy tube that processes the remaining food and allows any remaining vitamins and minerals to be absorbed through its walls.

What Does the Large Intestine do?

Now that we have followed food through the digestive system, we can answer the question of what does the large intestine do?

The large intestine is the last step in the food journey through the digestive system. At this point, all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals have been extracted from the food, toxic bacteria have been destroyed, and all that is left is the waste material that needs to be removed from our bodies.

What does the large intestine do now? First, it removes all of the water content of the waste material, which will then be pushed through the intestine until it reaches the rectum (at the end of the large intestine). Then, finally, the waste material is removed from the body through a bowel movement.

How Does the Digestive System Break Food Down?

Each part of the digestive system works to break down food using the following:

  • chewing
  • squeezing
  • stomach acid
  • bile
  • enzymes

A mixture of physical motion, chewing and squeezing, and chemical processes in the liver, stomach, gall bladder, and intestines play a role in breaking down food. This breakdown allows the body to extract and absorb nutrients that provide us with energy and support cell growth.

What are the 2 Types of Digestion?

There are two different types of digestion that happen within the body. These are known as chemical digestion and mechanical digestion.

What is Chemical Digestion?

Chemical digestion is how digestive enzymes break down food as it travels from the mouth into the digestive system. It is through chemical digestion that food is transformed into smaller nutrients that can be absorbed easily by the body. Without chemical digestion, our bodies can’t absorb nutrients from our food.

What is Mechanical Digestion?

While chemical digestion is, as the name suggests, the chemical aspect of digestion, Mechanical digestion is the physical aspect of the process. During mechanical digestion, the food’s chemical nature is not altered. Instead, the food is made physically smaller through chewing and tongue movements. Mechanical digestion breaks food down into smaller bits and mixes it with saliva.

The Difference Between Chemical Digestion and Mechanical Digestion?

Mechanical digestion begins in the mouth, with chewing and tongue movements that break the food into smaller pieces. Then, it moves to churn in the stomach and segmentation in the small intestine. Peristalsis also plays a huge role in mechanical digestion. Peristalsis is the name for involuntary contractions and relaxations of the muscles of the body’s esophagus, stomach, and intestines. These contractions help break down food and move it through the digestive system.

Chemical digestion also begins in the mouth. As you chew, your salivary glands release saliva into your mouth, which contains a range of digestive enzymes that start the process of chemical digestion. The majority of chemical digestion, however, occurs in the small intestine and involves the secretions of enzymes throughout the digestive tract. The enzymes are designed to break the chemical bonds that hold food particles together. Once these bonds are broken, the food can be broken down into small, digestible pieces.

How Do These Processes Work Together?

Once the food particles have reached the small intestine, the intestines continue to move. It helps the food particles to continue moving along, thus exposing more of them to digestive enzymes. These movements are also beneficial in moving the digested food toward the large intestine for excretion.

What is the Purpose of Chemical Digestion?

Essentially, both digestion processes are necessary; we would not be able to digest food successfully with just one of them. For instance, chewing and peristalsis in mechanical digestion are good for physically breaking down large pieces of food into smaller ones so that cells can absorb them. However, chemical digestion is required to make these food particles small enough to be fully digested.

Chemical digestion breaks down nutrients into smaller parts. For instance:

  • Fats are broken down into fatty acids and monoglycerides.
  • Nucleic acids are broken down into nucleotides.
  • Polysaccharides, or carbohydrate sugars, are broken down into monosaccharides.
  • Proteins are broken down into amino acids.

Without chemical digestion, the body wouldn’t be able to absorb nutrients from food, leading to many deficiencies and diseases.

Digestive Enzymes In the Mouth:

As previously mentioned, chemical digestion begins in the mouth with various enzymes found in saliva. These enzymes include lingual lipase, which is responsible for breaking down triglycerides and fat. In addition, salivary amylase is also found in the mouth, which is responsible for breaking down ​​polysaccharides, a complex sugar that is a carbohydrate.

The Path of Chemical Digestion

While chemical digestion begins in the mouth, it doesn’t end there. It is a whistle-stop tour of the path of chemical digestion throughout the body:

  • Stomach

In the stomach, chief cells secrete a range of digestive enzymes.l One of these enzymes is called pepsin, whose role is to break down proteins. Then there is gastric lipase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down triglycerides. Fat-soluble substances, such as alcohol, are also absorbed in the stomach.

  • Small intestine

The small intestine is where the majority of chemical digestion takes place. It is here that the main components of food, such as amino acids, peptides, and glucose for energy, are absorbed. In addition, there are a large number of enzymes that are released in the small intestine and the pancreas, all for digestion. These enzymes include lactase to digest lactose and sucrase to digest sugar.

  • Large intestine

There are no digestive enzymes released in the large intestine. However, it does contain a range of bacteria that helps to break down nutrients further. The large intestine also absorbs vitamins, minerals, and water.

Why is Digestion in the Human Body Important?

Through the digestive system journey, the human body receives the important nutrients from food and drink needed to function properly. These nutrients are called macronutrients and are vital for a healthy body. The digestive system involves different stages, and in each stage, the nutrients are broken down so that we can absorb them, using them for energy, growth, and repair.

The body breaks down nutrients from food and drinks into carbohydrates, protein, fats, and vitamins.


Sugars, starches, and fiber are carbohydrates found in many foods. Simple carbohydrates include natural sugars in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and milk. Complex carbohydrates contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs and are found in food like wholegrain bread, cereal, starchy vegetables, and legumes.


Proteins are made up of amino acids, which our body needs to grow and maintain its cells and tissues. The body absorbs amino acids through the small intestine into the blood and transports them around the body. Proteins are found in foods such as meat, eggs, and beans.


Fat supplies the body with energy and helps it absorb vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Healthy fats (known as unsaturated fats) are found in sunflower, soybean, and olive oil. Unhealthy fats (saturated fats) are found in food like butter, candy, cheese, and fatty cuts of meat. The body breaks down fat molecules into fatty acids and glycerol during digestion.


Vitamins are organic substances that are found in small amounts in certain foods. Each vitamin plays a different role in the body’s growth and health. For example, the body stores fat-soluble vitamins in the liver and fatty tissues but does not easily store water-soluble vitamins and flushes out any excess vitamins in the urine.

What are Some Common Conditions that Affect the Digestive System?

The digestive system is home to many different organs and is affected by several temporary and long-term diseases. Some of these diseases or disorders are more common than others; for instance, around 1 in every seven adults and 1 in every three children in the UK has constipation at any time. While digestive issues like this are common, they can still be painful and cause great discomfort. More minor digestive problems can also lead to more serious conditions requiring medical treatment.

Here are some temporary issues or disorders that affect the digestive system:

  • Constipation: Constipation happens when you cannot have a bowel movement (i.e., you can’t poo) as frequently as you typically do. Bowel movements can also often be painful when you are constipated.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhoea is pretty much the exact opposite of constipation. You have bowel movements much more frequently than normal when you have diarrhea. Without getting too graphic, these bowel movements are also not always ‘solid.’ There is a range of things that can cause diarrhea, including bacteria.
  • Heartburn: Judging by its name, it would be fair to assume that heartburn affects the heart. However, heartburn is an issue that affects the digestive system. When you have heartburn, you will feel an uncomfortable, burning sensation in your chest, which sometimes migrates to the neck and throat. The cause of heartburn is acidic digestive juices traveling from the stomach to the esophagus.
  • Stomach Flu: Stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis, is an infection of the stomach and the upper section of the small intestine that is typically caused by a virus. Millions of people get the stomach flu yearly, lasting around a week.
  • Ulcers: An ulcer is a sore that grows on the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine lining. Ulcers are commonly caused by infection with bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. However, they can also be caused by the long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
  • Gallstones: Gallstones are tiny pieces of solid material that have formed from digestive fluid in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ located below your liver.

Here are some diseases, also known as gastrointestinal diseases, and disorders that affect the digestive system:

  • Chronic Acid Reflux: Chronic acid reflux is also called GERD, standing for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a condition where acid-rich contents in the stomach leak back up to the esophagus frequently.
  • Irritable Bowel System: Irritable bowel system, or IBS, is a condition in which the colon contracts either more or less often than normal. It can cause increased gassiness, stomach pain, cramps, bloating, and irregular bowel movements.
  • Lactose Intolerance: Lactose Intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose is the sugar found primarily in milk and dairy products. Therefore, people who are lactose intolerant have to stay away from eating any dairy products.
  • Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis: Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are two different conditions that affect the colon. In both situations, bulges, known as diverticula, form in the colon’s wall.
  • Cancer: Cancer is a disease that can affect a wide range of areas in the body. One of these areas is the digestive system. Cancers that affect the digestive system are called gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. There are many GI cancers, the most common of which are oesophageal, gastric (stomach), colon and rectal (colorectal), pancreatic, and liver.
  • Crohn’s Disease: Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness that lasts a lifetime. Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease that irritates the digestive tract. The side effects of Crohn’s disease include irregular bowel movements, stomach pain, weight loss, and extreme tiredness.
  • Celiac Disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. If a person has celiac disease, they are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Therefore, when a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, it can damage their small intestine.

How Can I Keep My Digestive System Healthy?

As you can see above, various conditions and diseases can impact your digestive system’s health. Thankfully, there are also lots of small, everyday things that you can do to keep your gut in good health and, thus, prevent some of these conditions from occurring.

Here are some easy ways to maintain your gut health:

  • Water! Water! Water! Drinking lots of water is a key part of maintaining good gut health. When you drink water, it helps food flow more easily through your digestive system. Dehydration, caused by a lack of water in the body, can lead to digestive issues like constipation.
  • Eat Plenty of Fibre: Fibre is a chemical compound found in foods like wholegrain cereals, oats, and other carbs, in addition to a range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Fiber is extremely beneficial to the digestive system, as it helps the body have regular bowel movements. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble, both of which should be included in your diet for good gut health.
  • A Balanced Diet: Eating a balanced diet is one of the simplest ways to maintain a healthy gut. A balanced diet should include every macronutrient group, i.e., protein, carbs, fat, and micronutrients.
  • Opt for Wholegrains: It is always best to opt for wholegrains over processed grains, as they are easier for the body to digest. A good rule to have is to try to avoid processed foods in general.
  • Cut Down on Red Meat: Red meat is okay in moderation, but too much of it can cause unwanted stress on the digestive system. In addition, red meat is hard for the body to digest and can lead to bloating and stomach pain. Therefore, it is best to opt for poultry and fish instead of red meat.
  • Probiotics are good bacteria that help fight off bad bacteria in the gut. They also created healthy substances that nourish the gut. Probiotics can be found in various foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, pickles, and a bunch of fruits. Alternatively, probiotics can be taken in the form of supplements.
  • Eat Slowly: Eating slowly allows your body the time it needs to digest food properly. Eating slowly also gives your body time to signal to your brain to let you know when you are full. It helps you avoid overeating, which can negatively affect the digestive system.
  • Take Time to Chew: While we might not give it a second thought, chewing is integral to maintaining good gut health. When you take time to chew your food, it helps ensure your body has produced enough saliva (spit) for digestion. What’s more, chewing your food thoroughly makes it easier for your digestive system to absorb the nutrients in the food.
  • Exercise Regularly: Exercise and physical activity are vital for helping food move through the digestive system. This exercise doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Going for a walk, especially after a meal, is a great way to help your digestive system process food.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol can greatly increase the amount of acid in the stomach, leading to various issues like heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers. It is not necessary to avoid alcohol in general, but it is important to watch how much you consume.
  • Say No to Smoking: Studies have shown that smoking can almost double your risk of experiencing acid reflux. It has also been proven that people who suffer from digestive issues and frequently smoke see their problems improve after they quit smoking.
  • Keep Stress to a Minimum: Stress is the root of many body issues. In all honesty, nothing good comes from stress. However, the digestive system is particularly affected by it, and increased stress can lead to problems like constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. Therefore, it is important to take steps to ensure that your stress is at a minimum.

Fast Facts about the Digestive System for KS2

  • The average person produces 2 pints (1.14 liters) of saliva daily.
  • The second part of your small intestine is called the jejunum.
  • Enzymes in your digestive system separate food into the different nutrients your body needs.
  • A close bond exists between your brain and your digestive system. It is called ‘the gut-brain axis.’ It explains why emotions and brain disorders affect how your body digests food.
  • The whole digestive system is disconnected from gravity. But because it works with muscles, you can digest food whether standing up, upside down, or lying on your side.
  • Some enzymes in clothes-washing detergents are the same as those in your digestive system.
  • The large intestine is only about 5 feet (1.52 meters) long, making it smaller than the small intestine, which is about 22-23 feet long.
  • The gas in your body is produced by fermented bacteria and then mixed with air, which is why it doesn’t smell good.
  • Platypuses don’t have stomachs!
  • Stomach growling happens all the time, but you can hear it much more when your stomach is empty because there’s no food to silence it.
  • When the stomach is fully stretched, it can simultaneously hold up to 4 pounds (1.81 kilograms) of food.
  • The best exercise you can do to keep a healthy digestive system is aerobic exercise — like walking and running.
  • Babies aren’t born with the healthy bacteria your system needs to digest food.
  • Hiccups can be caused by a change in temperature that happens suddenly. For example, the longest attack of constant hiccups lasted 68 years!
  • You might have noticed your mouth has more saliva when you are about to be sick. It is to protect your teeth from the acids in your stomach that will come up.

The digestive system journey (simplified)

  • The mouth: food is chewed and swallowed.
  • Esophagus: your chewed-up food is transported from the mouth to the stomach via the esophagus.
  • Stomach: a large amount of food can be quickly stored here and digested over a long time.
  • Liver: a liquid called bile is made here, which aids digestion and helps absorb fats.
  • Gall bladder: the bile is stored here.
  • Small intestine: the small intestine plays a BIG role in the digestive process. And in actuality, it’s not that small! Measuring seven meters long, it’s the small intestine’s job to absorb nutrients from the food.
  • Large intestine: here, any undigested material, excess fluid, and mucus all combine to form a stool.

What is Uranus?

Uranus is the seventh planet and second-furthest planet in our Solar System. Uranus is a gas giant and is the coldest planet.

Uranus is a very interesting planet within the solar system. It has far less mass than its Gas Giant neighbors, Neptune and Saturn but is much larger in diameter. Uranus is made up of materials similar to Neptune, including frozen water, ammonia, and methane. Neptune and Uranus are often referred to as the ‘Ice Giants.’

Uranus also has the moniker of being the coldest planet in the Solar System, and the temperature can reach as low as -224 °C.

Characteristics of Uranus

In the visible light spectrum, Uranus appears as a blue-green sphere due to the methane in its atmosphere. Around 80% of its mass comes from water and methane ice (hence its nickname, ‘Ice Giant’).

Unlike the other solar system planets, Uranus is tilted so far over that it orbits the sun on its side. Its polar axis almost points straight at the sun. This unusual orientation might be due to a collision with a planet-size body or several small bodies soon after it was formed.

Does Uranus have Rings?

Uranus has rings like all the other gas giants, but they are not as clearly visible as the rings of Saturn. Due to the tilt of Uranus’ axis, its rings are vertical instead of horizontal like all the other ring systems in the Solar System. Uranus has two rings, from dark grey and blue to dusty red.

Does Uranus have any Moons?

Uranus has 27 known moons. The moons of Uranus are named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Examples include Umbriel, Titania, Ariel, Oberon, Miranda, Puck, Sycorax, Ophelia, Caliban, Prospero, Juliet, and Bianca.

Uranus has five major moons; the rest are smaller and irregular. Most of Uranus’s moons are made of rock and ice. However, some closer moons to Uranus, referred to as the inner moons, exist within the rings and are made of the same materials as the rings.

Climate on Uranus

The extreme tilt of Uranus has led to some unusual weather patterns on the planet. Areas of the atmosphere can experience many years of darkness (and cooling periods) before being exposed to the sun’s light again. The atmosphere is largely calm, with gigantic springtime storms occurring in the exposed areas.

Are there storms on Uranus?

Compared to the other gas giants in the Solar System, the atmosphere of Uranus is quite calm. However, Uranus still has very fast winds, as wind speeds can reach 250 meters per second or 560 miles per hour.

Uranus has seasons, and sometimes these seasons can produce large storms. For example, in 2004, scientists saw that Uranus had more clouds than usual, and a dark spot appeared on the planet’s surface. This indicated that, although the planet looks calm, there are, in fact, storms that occur on Uranus from time to time.

The coldest planet in the solar system

Despite not being as far from the sun as Neptune, Uranus takes the crown for the coldest planet.

Even though Uranus is a billion miles closer to the Sun than Neptune, Uranus holds the record for the coldest temperature ever measured in the Solar System: a very chilly -224℃. Of course, the temperature of Neptune can dip as low as -214℃, and the dark side of Mercury can even reach -200℃, but Uranus has a trick up its sleeve.

Uranus is so cold partly due to its distance from the Sun. Billions of years ago, something big crashed into Uranus with so much force that it tipped the planet onto its side. The impact of the crash caused a large amount of energy and heat to escape from the core of Uranus. The heat in the core of planets (such as Earth) aids in keeping the world warmer than space. Without this heat, the temperature of the earth soon dropped.

When was Uranus Discovered?

The story of the discovery of Uranus is interesting because astronomers often saw it throughout history. Still, it was often mistaken for a star instead of a planet and even a few times for a comet. The earliest known sighting of Uranus was in 128 BC, but it wasn’t until 1783 that Uranus was formally identified as a planet.

Uranus was officially discovered as a planet by Sir William Herschel using a homemade 6.2-inch telescope. The planet was named Uranus after the ancient Greek god of the sky. Herschel originally wanted to name the planet after King George III, but this decision was unpopular outside Britain. So instead, several alternate names were

How does Uranus compare to Earth?

Uranus is a very different planet compared to Earth. Like all gas giants, the planet’s surface is not solid, so there is no way to land on the planet or build things there. The only solid part of the planet is the core, which is made of metals such as iron and nickel and is very small compared to the rest of the planet.

Uranus has a large layer above the core called the mantle, made of water, ammonia, and methane, which exist as ice. The upper layer of the planet is made of hydrogen, helium, and methane gases. The only spacecraft to have visited Uranus is the Voyager 2 probe, which passed by the planet in 1986 and took several photographs.

Could life exist on Uranus?

Because of the very cold temperatures and dangerous levels of pressure on Uranus, it is highly unlikely that any life could live there, as it would be almost impossible for any life form, even a microorganism, to adapt to the environment of Uranus. Furthermore, because there is no surface on the planet, it would be very difficult for humans to live on Uranus.

Uranus Fact File

  1. Uranus was the first planet found using a telescope
  2. Uranus is nearly four times larger than Earth
  3. It takes sunlight 2 hours and 40 minutes to reach Uranus
  4. Uranus rotates faster than Earth does, so one day on Uranus only takes 17 hours and 14 minutes
  5. It takes Uranus 84 years to orbit the Sun