Biological Form and Function

Lesson Title: Form and Function Lab, Part 1: Anatomical
Academic Standards: HS-LS1-2; HS-LS1-3
Content Creator: Mrs. Wendy Martin
Level: High School
Duration: 25-35 min
  /  Form and Function Lab, Part 1: Anatomical


  • Define biological form and function.
  • Observe the normal anatomy of the human vertebral column.
  • Describe the function of the human vertebral column.
  • Observe skeletal abnormalities.


In this lesson students will first be introduced to the overall function of the skeletal system. They will then look at the form and function of the human vertebral column. It will allow students to work hands-on with the vertebrae. Students will observe the regions of the vertebral column and understand their purpose and function. Students will also assemble the vertebrae on their own, according to region. Students will then observe vertebral abnormalities and take a virtual field trip to a chiropractic museum.


  1. Review class objectives
  2. Show 2D video clip of skeletal system on big screen.
  3. Students gather around teacher desk.
  4. Discuss the human vertebral column.
    1. Teacher will distribute vertebral columns to pairs of students.
    2. Discuss each region and function of each.
    3. Discuss unique structural features found in each region.
  5. Students will move to lab benches.
  6. Students will be asked to assemble vertebral column within the human cadaver.
    1. Cadaver will be on lab station.
    2. Vertebral column regions including the sacrum will also be on lab station.
    3. Teacher walks around and checks progress.
  7. As a class, hypothesize some issues that could occur if the vertebral column is not properly formed.
  8. Discuss scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis, and spina bifida and show pictures on the whiteboard.
  9. Take field trip to Palmer Chiropractic.
  10. Debrief lesson and do homework.

Suggested Ancillary Support

1. Function or the Vertebral Column a. protects spinal cord b. structure and support to maintain upright posture c. attachment for pelvic and pectoral girdles d. supports rib cage e. transmits body weight while walking and standing f. vertebral foramen to house the spinal cord g. body to support the weight of the vertebrae above h. processes for muscle attachment   2. Cervical Region a. C1-C7 b. C1 and C2 (atlas and axis) for head movement c. helps support head with musculature d. largest vertebral foramen e. smallest body and processes 3. Thoracic Region a. T1-T12 b. supports rib cage c. smaller vertebral foramen d. larger body e. only one with rib facets 4. Lumbar Region a. L1-L5 b. supports entire upper body c. smallest foramen d. largest body and processes 5. Sacrum a. S1-S5 fused b. protects pelvic organs c. attachment point for femur head 6. Coccyx a. Co1-Co3 fused b. vestigial tailbone c. vestigial - an organ or part of the body that has atrophied over evolutionary time and has become functionless 7. Intervertebral discs a. fibrocartilage pads found btwn the body of vertebrae b. cushions c. acts as a shock absorber during walking, jumping and running d. helps with spine flexion and extension 8. 4 normal curvatures a. 4 normal curvatures in spine b. increase resilience and flexibility c. thoracic and sacral - convex, born with them d. cervical and lumbar - concave, develop within a year 9. abnormal curvatures or structure a. scoliosis 1. abnormal lateral curvature 2. birth defects, unequal muscle pull b. kyphosis 1. exaggerated thoracic curvature 2. hunchback 3. osteoporosis c. lordosis 1. exaggerated lumbar curvature 2. potbelly 3. weight gain, pregnancy d. spina bifida 1. birth defect 2. vertebrae fail to close properly in utero 3. spinal cord tissue or nerves could protrude 4. may lead to paralysis 10. Palmer College of Chiropractic a. est in 1897 by Daniel David Palmer, founder of chiropractic medicine b. first and largest school of chiropractic medicine in the word c. houses a Chiropractic History Museum