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  • This unit plan guides students to design a working model of part of the human digestive system that can be built in the classroom.


    Design a model of the mechanical, chemical and biological (enzymatic) processes of each part of the human digestive system.

    Download the unit plan below.

    Suggestions for a scenario

    Your class has been asked to design a lab bench model of the human digestive system. The class may be broken into groups, each with the responsibility of designing one part of the digestive system.

    This lab bench model could be used by scientists to measure the energy released from different foods. At the moment, these scientists look at the energy release from foods by measuring blood sugar in human test subjects after they have eaten food. However, this method is expensive and time-consuming, and often the rate of digestion can vary widely in different subjects.


    Scientists at Plant & Food Research’s food concept development programme could use the results from your model to make new foods that release energy at specific rates. They are using plants, like vegetables and cereals, to make new foods. Biotechnology techniques are used by scientists for plant breeding, understanding the physics and chemistry of food structure and looking at how these things influence digestion.


    Lab bench model, human digestive system, nutrients, energy release, glycaemic load, in vitro, in vivo.

    Related content

    Digestion chemistry – introduction curates Hub resources on the human digestive system.

    Food function and structure introduces the fundamental types of materials required to keep our bodies functioning. It has links to key terms and articles on substances and compounds like phytochemicals, fibre and micronutrients.

    High-value nutrition products are a growing and important industry for New Zealand. Read about the process in Developing healthy food products – an introduction.

      Published 1 February 2007, Updated 29 September 2017 Referencing Hub articles
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