The Human Immune System

This course is focused on the main organs, tissues, and cells of the immune system, drawing distinctions between those elements associated with innate and adaptive immunity. Students will learn the location and function of the lymphatics, tonsils, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow, and will become familiar with the many cell types involved with the generation of immune responses. Animations and interviews from The Vaccine Makers Project will be available to supplement the unit.

Lesson 1 will provide students with an overview of the immune system, introducing the primary components of this important organ system that resides throughout and protects the entire body. The accompanying activity guides students through a model of the immune system organs and tissues.

Lesson 2 will focus on the the innate, or non-specific, immune system. Students will learn the definition and role of the innate immune system as well as the structure and function of its major components including, chemical mediators, physical barriers, and cells such as neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells. The activity guides students through a model that reinforces the role of the innate immune system. Students will also draw upon Lesson 1 to relate the organs and tissues of the immune system to the components of the innate immune system.

Lesson 3 educates students about the adaptive, or specific, immune system. Students will learn the structure and function of the major components of the adaptive immune system including, B cells, T cells, antibodies, and dendritic cells. Adaptive immune responses will be described as they relate to and interact with components of the innate immune system as well as why this aspect of the immune system is important to protecting humans from disease. The reinforcing activities will guide students through vocabulary, worksheets, and a culminating writing activity that requires a clear understanding of the interactions among the immune system components to demonstrate success. Students will also draw upon Lessons 1 & 2 to relate the organs and tissues of the immune system and innate immune system to the components of the adaptive immune system.

The Summary Activity, designed especially for this project, is a variation of the popular card game, Gin Rummy, called Ante-GIN, which will challenge students? understanding of the communications network inherent to the successful operation of the human immune system.

Course Structure

  • Lesson 1: An overview of the immune system
  • Lesson 2: The innate immune system
  • Lesson 3: Structure and function of the adaptive immune system
  • Summary Activity

Summary Activity

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