Urinary System – Label the Kidney and Nephron

I created this version of a labeling activity for students who are learning from home during the 2020 pandemic. You will not need to hand out papers with this version! Instead, students use their Chromebook to open Google Slides and drag the labels to the correct position. I usually assign this activity after students have learned about the kidney from the chapter notes. You can also download a shorter (alternative) presentation for pandemic teaching if your schedule is shortened.

I have included three slides with this activity, though you could assign them one at a time. The first slide is an overview of the urinary system that shows the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. Students drag labels to the structures on the slide. Also, the diagram shows the relationship between the aorta, vena cava, and the renal vessels. While these aren’t part of the urinary system, they are important in the physiology of the kidney.

On the second slide, viewers see a close-up of a kidney that’s been cut to show the internal structures. Renal arteries and veins become arterioles that loop around the tubules within the kidney. At the loop of Henle, these arterioles become capillaries that eventually exit through the renal vein.

I have several kidney models that students can view in class to compare with the print diagrams. You can also provide kidneys for dissection as a comparison. Even if you don’t give a formal lab on the kidney, the specimens are cheap enough for students to do a quick slice!

cat kidney
Cat Kidney

The final slide shows a closeup of a nephron with the proximal and distal tubules. This is a great time to revisit the process of osmosis! In addition to classwork, home learners can watch this video on EdPuzzle for an explanation on how filtration works.

I intended for this assignment to be completed after students have learned about the system. You can even encourage students to use other sources, like a Google Image search. I don’t normally grade these activities for credit, they are mainly just for practice. Assessments occur at the end of the unit.

For more advanced work, check out this case study on a baby who has a kidney problem. I also modified that activity for remote learning.

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