What human body system affects almost every organ and cell in the body? The endocrine system. The endocrine system contains 9 major glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones. Secreted hormones control everything from body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure to reproduction, the sleep-wake cycle, and our reaction to stress. Hormones enter the blood system and are delivered to all parts of the body where cells with specific receptors take up the hormones they need and regulate cell function.
Each of the major glands of the endocrine system produce one or more hormones that can be characterized as peptide, lipid-derived, or amino acid-derived chemicals. Many people are familiar with the term steroid. They may have heard the term in reference to athletes using steroids for muscle development, performance enhancement, or for treatment of a severe joint inflammation after an injury. Structurally, steroids fall into the lipid hormone category. They are not water soluble and include chemicals that are primarily ketones or alcohols in structure.
Individual glands and hormones
Keeping track of the individual glands and the hormones they produce may be difficult for students. Visuals always help when a lot of information must be learned and retained for a long period. Our endocrine system infographic helps students learn and review the endocrine glands and their associated hormone secretions.
The organs and glands of the endocrine system have microscopic tissue structures as individualized as the hormones they produce. A great way to introduce the tissue structures is with high quality microscopy. Have your students explore microscope slides such as the mammal pituitary gland, mammal adrenal gland, and mammal thyroid and parathyroid glands. If you don’t have time for in-class microscopy work, use this free activity on identifying endocrine tissues. Students first study the micrographs of 6 endocrine glands and organs and then match the micrographs to their correct name and corresponding function. It’s a good learning tool, especially if microscopy is not in the cards.
Consider using models
For other products related to the endocrine system, check out our selection of models. We have an almost life-size human endocrine model set featuring 7 glands and organs, a kidney with adrenal gland model, a human ovary model, and a male reproductive system model showing the male testis in 3 perspectives.
The endocrine system can be a difficult topic for students. It has 9 glands located from head to pelvis, complex biochemistry, and positive and negative feedback loops to identify. Don’t let it raise your stress level. We can help with free resources, models, microscope slides, and activities. “My hormones made me do it” may work in the doctor’s office, but it won’t work in the classroom!