Teaching the human body is one of my absolute favorite topics to teach. Students are typically curious and engaged. Teachable moments involving good health, disease, and gore abound. In addition to learning about the human body and body systems, teaching students about blood cells helps reinforce information taught about body cells.
Blood Cells and Human Body Systems
The body’s blood cells are technically part of two body systems – the circulatory system and the immune system. Red blood cells (RBCs) are part of the circulatory system. Generally speaking, the function of the circulatory system is to transport oxygen, nutrients, and waste products (like carbon dioxide) to and from different parts of the body. In addition to red cells, other parts of the circulatory system include the heart, blood vessels, and other parts of the blood.
White blood cells (WBCs) are part of both the circulatory system and the immune system. By and large, the immune system fights off foreign invaders entering the human body. White blood cells are blood cells and immune cells. The types of white blood cells (types of WBCs) are granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils), monocytes, and lymphocytes (T cells and B cells).
Components of Blood
In addition to red and white blood cells, blood is also composed of platelets and plasma. While the red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body, the white blood cells help our bodies to fight disease. The platelets are small fragments of cells that are responsible for blood clotting. Blood plasma is the liquid part of the blood that carries the other components of blood through the body.
Red Blood Cell Disorders
Red blood cells play a very important role in maintaining homeostasis in the human body. Therefore, problems relating to red blood cells can cause significant health problems. A complete blood count (or CBC) is a simple lab test that can unearth low red blood cell count, and be used to diagnose blood cancers (like leukemia) and other blood-related disorders like sickle cell disease.
Donating Blood & Blood Types
There are approximately 10 pints of blood in the human body. Because of blood diseases and blood loss due to an accident or trauma, some individuals need to receive units of blood through a blood transfusion.
This blood supply comes from blood donations. While blood donations can save lives, because of different blood types, donors of all types are needed to ensure safe transfusions.
Blood typing has to do with an important protein or antigen that is found on the surface of the blood. This antigen determines the blood type. In order to safely receive a blood transfusion, a recipient’s & donor’s blood types must be compatible.
Interesting Facts About Blood Cells
The rest of this post lists interesting facts about blood cells. With this in mind, these facts can be used to engage students and complement your cells and human body systems units.
Red Blood Cells
1. Solid part of the blood.
2. Scientifically known as erythrocytes (greek for red=erythros and cyte = cell).
3. Contain a protein called hemoglobin that transports oxygen.
4. Circular in shape with an indent in the center.
5. Up to 500,000 red blood cells in a single drop of human blood.
6. 120 day life cycle.
White Blood Cells
7. Solid part of the blood.
8. Scientifically known as leukocytes (greek for white = leucko and cyte = cell).
9. Help the body fight pathogens, infections, and diseases.
11. Solid part of the blood.
12. Small fragments of cells.
13. Bind together to form blood clots.
14. Tens of thousands in a drop of blood.
15. The liquid part of the blood.
16. Makes up 55% of human blood.
18. Appears light yellow in color when separated from the rest of the whole blood.
19. One of the four main types of blood vessels.
20. Carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body.
21. The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart.
22. Thick walls.
23. One of the four main types of blood vessels.
24. Carry deoxygenated from the body to the heart and lungs.
25. The pulmonary vein carries blood to the heart from the lungs.
26. Bluish/purple color due to deoxygenated blood.
27. Smallest of the blood vessels.
28. Deliever oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells.
29. Connect arteries to veins.
30. Two cell layers thick to facilitate diffusion.
31. Donated blood is “transfused” from a tube to the vein in the arm.
32. Potentially life-saving procedure after car accident, injury, etc.
33. Blood typing is imperative for safe blood transfusions.
34. Can save the lives of others.
35. Must meet certain requirements to donate blood.
36. Typically done through organizations like The American Red Cross
37. Eight total blood types in human blood.
38. A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, O-
39. The +/- refer to rH factor which is an inherited protein.
40. Important in giving and receiving blood.
Blood Type A
41. One of the main blood types.
42. Gets its name from antigen A on the surface of the RBC.
43. Can donate to other type As, and ABs.
44. Can only receive from other type As and type O.
Blood Type B
45. One of the main blood types.
46. Gets its name from antigen B on the surface of the RBC.
47. Can donate to other type Bs, and AB.
48. Can receive from other type Bs and Os.
Blood Type AB
49. One of the main blood types.
50 Gets its name from antigens A & B on the surface of the RBC.
51. Can only give to other type ABs.
52. Universal recipient (can receive from all other blood types).
Blood Type O
53. One of the main blood types.
54. Has no antigens on the surface of the RBC.
55. Can only receive from other type Os.
56. Universal donor (can give to all other blood types).
57. Occurs when an artery is blocked.
58. Blockage of blood flow caused by cholesterol, fat, or other substances.
Sickle Cell Anemia
59. Inherited disorder of red blood cells.
60. Gets its name from an abnormal C-shaped farm tool called a sickle.
61. Because of their shape, cells get stuck together and can block blood flow.
62 Life cycle of about 10-20 days.
63. Genentic disorder.
64. Blood does not clot properly.
65. Caused by a gene mutation
66. Body cannot properly make clotting factor proteins.
Other Blood Related Medical Conditions
67. Deep Vein Thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep vein.
68. Thalassemia – body doesn’t produce enough hemoglobin.
69. Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasis – Blood vessels do not develop properly.
70. Leukemia – Cancers of the Blood Cells
In conclusion, I hope these facts about blood cells help to engage your learners and deepen their understanding of cells and human body systems.
Looking for middle school cell lessons accessible for all students including English learners and students currently reading below grade level? Check out my life science resources here.