Case Study – What’s Wrong with Timothy?


The endocrine system can be a difficult subject to cover in anatomy.  It isn’t as showy as the other systems where you can label organs or dissect an eyeball.  Students must also memorize a number of hormones and their functions which have complicated names like thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine.  

When I first started teaching anatomy, I dreaded this chapter.   Now, I actually like it because I have been able to incorporate real world examples of how important this system is.   I’ve also added a case study where students learn about a boy who was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder.

Students work in groups to follow Timothy, learn about hormones and what happens when hormone levels are not normal.

 In addition, feedback loops are discussed where students examine a diagram of the pituitary, hypothalamus and thyroid to determine where the loop is broken and how hormone therapy can help Timothy maintain homeostasis.

Grade Level:  11-12
Time Required:  45-60 minutes

HS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms

HS-LS1-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.

I also have presentation slides to go with this chapter, and no longer use the book.  My presentation focuses on real-life examples of control by the pituitary gland.  My dog was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and diabetes, and has provided a starting point for discussions about the endocrine system.