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In this unit, students will need to know that the heart is a pump, in which rhythmic contractions of the muscle which makes up the walls cause blood to flow from veins to atria and ventricles and then into the arteries from the ventricles. Students also need to understand how the valves ensure one-way flow of the blood. Knowing how blood is pumped around, students will also learn why the muscles surrounding the chambers are of different thickness. Labeling of the heart diagram will be essential and performing an experiment to investigate the effect of exercise on heart rate will be done. The differences between arteries, vein and capillaries will be taught together with differentiating the functions of the blood components – plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. At the end of the unit, discussion on the causes and effects of coronary heart diseases will be done. Students should be able to describe the pathway taken by water as it passes through a plant using terms like root hairs, xylem vessels and stomata. Students will also learn the process of transpiration pull and discuss the effects of humidity, temperature and wind on the rate of transpiration. Performing an experiment to investigate the rate of transpiration using a photometer will be involved.

Learning Targets

B5.1 Transport in plants

  • State the functions of xylem and phloem
  • Identify the positions of xylem and phloem tissues as seen in transverse sections of unthickened, herbaceous, dicotyledonous roots, stems and leaves

Water uptake

  • Identify root hair cells, as seen under the light microscope, and state their functions
  • State the pathway taken by water through root, stem and leaf (root hair, root cortex cells, xylem, mesophyll cells)
  • Investigate, using a suitable stain, the pathway of water through the above-ground parts of a plant
  • Relate the structure and functions of root hairs to their surface area and to water and ion uptake


  • Define transpiration as evaporation of water at the surfaces of the mesophyll cells followed by loss of water vapour from plant leaves, through the stomata
  • Describe how water vapour loss is related to cell surfaces, air spaces and stomata
  • Describe the effects of variation of temperature, humidity and light intensity on transpiration rate
  • Describe how wilting occurs
  • Explain the mechanism of water uptake and movement in terms of transpiration producing a tension (‘pull’) from above, creating a water potential gradient in the xylem, drawing cohesive water molecules up the plant.
  • Discuss the adaptations of the leaf, stem and root to three contrasting environments, to include pond, garden and desert, with emphasis on local examples (where appropriate) and the factors described in the core


  • Define translocation in terms of the movement of sucrose and amino acids in phloem;
    • from regions of production
    • to regions of storage OR to regions of utilisation in respiration or growth
  • Describe translocation throughout the plant of applied chemicals, including systemic pesticides
  • Compare the role of transpiration and translocation in the transport of materials from sources to sinks, within plants at different seasons

Leaf structure

  • Identify and label the cuticle, cellular and tissue structure of a dicotyledonous leaf, as seen in cross-section under the light microscope, and describe the significance of these features in terms of functions, to include
    • distribution of chloroplasts – photosynthesis
    • stomata and mesophyll cells – gas exchange
    • vascular bundles (xylem and phloem) – transport and support

Mineral requirements

  • Describe the importance of:
    • nitrate ions for protein synthesis
    • magnesium ions for chlorophyll synthesis
  • Describe the uses, and the dangers of overuse, of nitrogen fertilisers
  • Explain the effects of nitrate ion and magnesium ion deficiency on plant growth

B5.2 Transport in humans

  • Describe the circulatory system as a system of tubes with a pump and valves to ensure one-way flow of blood
  • Describe the double circulation in terms of a low pressure circulation to the lungs and a high pressure circulation to the body tissues and relate these differences to the different functions of the two circuits


  • Describe the structure of the heart including the muscular wall and septum, chambers, valves and associated blood vessels
  • Describe the function of the heart in terms of muscular contraction and the working of the valves
  • Investigate, state and explain the effect of physical activity on pulse rate
  • Describe coronary heart disease in terms of the blockage of coronary arteries and state the possible causes (diet, stress and smoking) and preventive measures

Arteries, veins and capillaries

  • Name the main blood vessels to and from the heart, lungs, liver and kidney
  • Describe the structure and functions of arteries, veins and capillaries
  • Explain how structure and function are related in arteries, veins and capillaries
  • Describe the transfer of materials between capillaries and tissue fluid


  • Identify red and white blood cells as seen under the light microscope on prepared slides, and in diagrams and photomicrographs
  • List the components of blood as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma
  • State the functions of blood:
    • red blood cells – haemoglobin and oxygen transport
    • white blood cells – phagocytosis and antibody formation
    • platelets – causing clotting (no details)
    • plasma – transport of blood cells, ions, soluble nutrients, hormones, carbon dioxide, urea and plasma proteins
  • Describe the immune system in terms of antibody production, tissue rejection and phagocytosis
  • Describe the function of the lymphatic system in circulation of body fluids, and the production of lymphocytes
  • Describe the process of clotting (fibrinogen to fibrin only)

Presentation media

Labs and activities

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