Breaking Bones

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Breaking Bones

Student worthiness

This was an experiment borrowed from here. It has been tested and can be trusted.

Primary biological content area covered

Materials Per Group

  1. Two Paper Plates
  2. Tape
  3. Scissors
  4. Six sealed bags of sand (150g) & Three sealed bags of sand (75g)
  5. Two sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper for the tight bones and three sheets of paper for the hollow bones, for each group.
  6. Scale (one scale, because the teacher should weigh the sand bags in advance)
  7. Poster to create a class graph that displays the results of the experiment


Figure 1. Handout required for activity. Click to see the full-size handout

Description of activity

This activity is used to teach students about the structure of bones. We want to show students that human bones are hollow, but have more stability and strength than tightly compacted bones. Students will use rolled paper to represent the bones. To test the bones they will place paper plates on top of the rolled paper. They will then add bags of sand to the plate to see how much each type of bone can hold.

Lesson plan

Potential pitfalls

Math connections

Literature connections

Connections to educational standards

Vermont Standard 7.14b: Students demonstrate understanding of the human body-heredity, body systems, and individual development-and understand the impact of the environment on the human body.

Next steps

A follow-up activiity that discusses what types of food are beneficial to healthy bones. Students will be aware of a nutritional diet versus other diets.


After teaching the first graders about bones and their strength, I feel that our lesson plan was a success! There were some incidents where the students started arguing over who was going to make the paper bones but other than that, our lesson ran smoothly and I am very proud of the results.

If there was one thing that I could change or add to our lesson,it would be that I wish that we could of read to the students a picture book from the Magic School Bus. I feel that this would have contributed to their understanding of bones and what is important for them to stay healthy.

Making experiments and graphs is one way to apply to the eight-multiple intelligences of students, and incorporating reading and literature is another. I am very impressed with what we have accomplished and look forward to the future lesson plans.

I also felt that the experiment went really well. The students really enjoyed placing the sand bags on the paper bone towers and they loved watching them fall over. I also feel that the class chart worked well because it helped the visual learners to understand the results of the experiment. The only major problem was which group got to do the small bones and which was allowed to do the large bones.

I also think that making a text connection would make this activity even better. If there was more time we would have liked to read to the children, but 20 minutes did not allow for that. Any book about bones would help the children to understand what our bones are actually like.

Also, if we had more time I would like to spend more time teaching the students about the bones structure. They could explore the different bones that humans have or compare human bones with animal bones. Although I believe that students did understand the main concept of our experiment, going into more detail would allow for an even greater understanding.

Citations and links

Borrowed experiment,

Create a book