Human Homeostasis

Explore Learning
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Simulation , Interactive Simulation , Model
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This interactive simulation of human homeostasis provides students the opportunity to explore how our body maintains a stable internal environment in spite of of the outside conditions, within certain limits. This simulation allows students to investigate a phenomenon that may in real life, be dangerous to humans. Students are asked to regulate the internal body temperature of an individual using clothing, exercise, and perspiration. A four- page exploration sheet guides students through the simulation, including a short prior knowledge piece providing information on how to use the simulation and introductory questions. Two separate activities are included: one that helps students understand the how each external factor affects initial body temperature and another that allows students to explore effects on body temperature after one hour. In the second portion of the interactive simulation students try to maintain a stable body temperature when the factors are changed. Students choose the factors of exercise level, sweat level, body position, clothing, and nutrients in terms of both water and food to maintain homeostasis. The simulation generates data tables and graphing during specific time intervals of outside temperature and body temperature. Students may also alter the outside temperature as part of the simulation. Students adjust the exercise level, amount of clothing, and sweating levels. Water level, sugar level, and fatigue level are influenced by the students’ choices and are illustrated by bar graphs and line graphs. This simulation can provide an introduction to a lesson or unit that explores how body systems interact. This simulation provides a good foundation for continued study of how the body systems interact and would be an excellent starting point for a lesson or unit on this concept. This interactive simulation provides students with a strong introduction to how body systems interact as the simulation illustrates how to maintain body temperature, sugar level and fatigue level and students are made aware of the consequences of not maintaining those levels. The importance of water and food are also emphasized. Students can rerun the simulation making different choices to determine the effects on homeostasis. Student exploration sheets provide guides for different runs with students setting their own parameters for the runs and drawing conclusions from the resulting changes. Teachers can view student assessment responses by assigning the simulation to a class created within the ExploreLearning site. Access to the teachers guide is provided with the free 30 day access and is helpful and complete. Vocabulary of dehydration, heat stroke, homeostasis, hypothermia, and involuntary, voluntary and thermoregulation are explained in detail in the accompanying teacher’s vocabulary guide.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 12
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 10
Access Restrictions

Available by subscription - The right to view and/or download material, often for a set period of time, by way of a financial agreement between rights holders and authorized users.

Performance Expectations

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

Clarification Statement: Examples of investigations could include heart rate response to exercise, stomate response to moisture and temperature, and root development in response to water levels.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the cellular processes involved in the feedback mechanism.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The interactive simulation and accompanying student exploration guide implicitly addresses the Performance Expectation, as it engages students in planning and carrying out an investigation that allows students to investigate a phenomenon that students would otherwise not be able to do in the classroom. Student results from the variety of investigative runs will help them to understand how changes in the levels of clothing, perspiration, and exercise affect the body’s ability to maintain a stable internal temperature. Exercise level, sweat level, body position, and clothing are all set by the student, and the student analyzes the effects of each variable. A major focus of this Performance Expectation is student understanding the concepts of positive and negative feedback loops and skillful teachers will need to build on this idea. The simulation does demonstrate feedback but it does not explicitly address feedback. Prior to implementing the activity, teachers will need to provide instruction and support on the general concept of feedback and feedback control systems.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
It may be helpful to allow the students to first familiarize themselves with the simulation until they have a good sense of what each control does. Students will deepen their understanding of factors that influence homeostasis if they are thoughtful in how they use the simulation. The simulation explicitly engages students by having students pick the different environmental conditions to observe and analyze how each affects the feedback mechanisms and the responses of the body in terms of measureable changes in water level, sugar level and fatigue level, perspirations and the order of each. Students pick the amount of clothing, the exercise level and then run the simulation with their chosen picks. Consider ways to structure the activity so that students ask questions first and then see how they can use the simulation to answer their questions. It is also possible to use the simulation to provide evidence to support claims. Providing plenty of opportunities for students to share their explanations with one another will also deepen their understanding.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The Disciplinary Core Idea is explicitly addressed because the overall goal of this simulation is for students to an introductory simulation of how feedback mechanisms maintain a living system’s internal conditions within certain limits allowing it to remain alive. After completing the simulation, teachers can extend the lesson by asking students to develop a model of a negative feedback homeostatic control mechanism and create a cartoon illustration that supports their model. The model must include a sensor, control center, an effector and variable being regulated. Positive and negative feedback are well explained and excellent examples of each are provided in this video by Paul Anderson:

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This simulation demonstrates how feedback stabilizes a system. Graphing of internal feedback in response to external changes is included in the simulation. A challenge is included in this simulation that asks students to maintain a constant body temperature for 24 hours. The students are encouraged to collect data on the effect of dehydration and the withholding of food on body temperature, blood sugar levels and fatigue. Students could share and compare their results with class members. Discussion of the application of student findings to competitive exercise that the students may be involved would be an excellent tie-in to real life situations. Using biological and real life analogies, students are guided in developing a conceptual understanding that most homeostatic mechanisms operate on a negative feedback principle and they are turned on by changes in the changes in the environment. Using examples of fever, childbirth, destruction of a pathogen, or formation of a blood clot will help students understand how a positive feedback principle increases a physiological response in order to achieve a particular result. Teachers may want to use a guiding question like, “How can your body maintain stable conditions even when your environment is changing? This type of question will help students focus on the phenomenon they are investigating, and it would provide a good launching point for guiding students toward understanding feedback loops and how body systems interact during those loops.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The simulation aligns directly with the relevant NGSS performance expectation

  • Instructional Supports: This resource engages students in authentic and meaningful scenarios illustrating the relationship of the external environment and the reaction of the body’s internal regulatory mechanisms and can serve as an effective introduction to generating questions for further exploration, i.e. how does exercise, clothing or sweating affect the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. The teacher’s guide is thorough and complete and includes learning objectives, lesson suggestions, a timetable, follow-up ideas, background information, discussion questions, health connections and selected web resources. Before running the simulation, students will benefit from discussion of the two prior knowledge questions and the warm up provided in the student exploration sheets. The guiding questions in the student exploration sheets are very helpful for facilitating student understanding and to help focus students’ attention on key concepts. Student analysis questions are well written. The open-endedness of this simulation is a positive incentive for student engagement and the accompanying graphing and screen capture provide effective additional resources for data collection. There is much content material addressed in this simulation and teachers can use this as the basis for additional lessons. This resource does address three- dimensional learning by connecting the disciplinary core idea of structure and function with the practice of modeling supporting the crosscutting concept of stability and change. Teachers should provide additional support by discussing answers for the entire student exploration packet and providing an open discussion of the results by facilitating a class discussion on the key concepts following the simulation. It is helpful for the instructor to view the Standard Gizmo Features tutorial to observe the different features of the provided materials.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The simulation provides students with visual media (i.e. graphic, visual and interactive elements) to illustrate their understanding of concepts presented in the simulation and student exploration sheets. The included student exploration sheets help guide the students in their analysis and understanding of the student objectives given in the teacher’s guide. While the student exploration sheets are a strong component of this simulation, the overall concluding or summary assessment provided is somewhat weak. Also, the assessment report feature does not provide an effective means for the teacher to return feedback to the student. Teachers could overcome these limitations to some degree by circulating, monitoring, and giving feedback face-to-face as students work on the simulation in a computer lab or similar setting, especially as students are interpreting their data. Students can also work with a partner and discuss their approach as they are working through the simulation together. The assessment portion includes extensive graph analysis and is a positive exercise for students to complete but the assessments could certainly be increased by the instructor. This simulation provides a camera feature that allows students and teachers to capture their graphs or copy the entire screen and clip them to the clipboard. Teachers can then include these graphics on tests or PowerPoint’s or have students turn them in as assignments with their analysis or present this information to other students. The data collected can also be exported to a spreadsheet.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The simulation is interactive and makes effective use of computer models and interactive simulations as well as instant feedback for the results of the simulation. Provided graphing tools are useful and well done. However, the students have limited control over variables.