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In this unit, students will need to be able to describe the structure of the human nervous system and know that electrical messages pass through rapidly from the receptor to the central nervous system and to the effectors thus creating a response to a stimulus. Students will then use this knowledge to describe the spinal reflex arc mentioning the names of the neurons involved and differentiate between reflex action and voluntary action. In homeostasis, students will be exposed to the knowledge that messages in the form of hormones are produced by endocrine glands and homeostasis is the maintenance of internal environment. Examples of controlling glucose level in our body by the hormones insulin and glucagon and regulating body temperature by vasodilatation, vasoconstriction and sweating.

Learning Targets

Coordination and response

Nervous control in humans

  • Describe the human nervous system in terms of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord as areas of coordination) and the peripheral nervous system which together serve to coordinate and regulate body functions
  • Identify motor (effector), relay (connector) and sensory neurones from diagrams
  • Describe a simple reflex arc in terms of sensory, relay and motor neurones, and a reflex action as a means of automatically and rapidly integrating and coordinating stimuli with responses
  • SMEO

    Discuss the properties of the brain's plasticity that help us be Lifelong Learners.

  • State that muscles and glands can act as effectors
  • Describe the action of antagonistic muscles to include the biceps and triceps at the elbow joint
  • Define sense organs as groups of receptor cells responding to specific stimuli: light, sound, touch, temperature and chemicals
  • Describe the structure and function of the eye, including accommodation and pupil reflex
  • Distinguish between voluntary and involuntary actions
  • Distinguish between rods and cones, in terms of function and distribution


  • Define a hormone as a chemical substance, produced by a gland, carried by the blood, which alters the activity of one or more specific target organs and is then destroyed by the liver
  • State the role of the hormone adrenaline in chemical control of metabolic activity, including increasing the blood glucose concentration and pulse rate
  • Give examples of situations in which adrenaline secretion increases
  • Compare nervous and hormonal control systems
  • Discuss the use of hormones in food production

Tropic responses

  • Define and investigate geotropism (as a response in which a plant grows towards or away from gravity) and phototropism (as a response in which a plant grows towards or away from the direction from which light is coming)
  • Explain the chemical control of plant growth by auxins including geotropism and phototropism in terms of auxins regulating differential growth, and the effects of synthetic plant hormones used as weedkillers


  • Define homeostasis as the maintenance of a constant internal environment
  • Identify, on a diagram of the skin: hairs, sweat glands, temperature receptors, blood vessels and fatty tissue
  • Describe the maintenance of a constant body temperature in humans in terms of insulation and the role of temperature receptors in the skin, sweating, shivering, vasodilation and vasoconstriction of arterioles supplying skinsurface capillaries and the coordinating role of the brain
  • Explain the concept of control by negative feedback
  • Describe the control of the glucose content of the blood by the liver, and by insulin and glucagon from the pancreas

Presentation media

Labs and activities

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