Activity 5.1 - Tracing the Processes of Cows Growing: Digestion and Biosynthesis (40 min)

Target Student Performance

Students “zoom in” to the structure and function of a cow’s organ systems and cells, tracing atoms and energy.

Resources You Provide

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


Print a Cow 11 x 17 Poster for each pair of students. Gather enough pennies and nickels to have 5 pennies for each pair of students and 2 nickels for each pair of students. Print one copy of 5.1 Tracing the Process for Cow Growing: Digestion and Biosynthesis Directions for each student or pair of students. Print one copy of 5.1 Tracing Atoms and Energy in Animals Worksheet for each student. Prepare a computer and a projector to display the PPT. Print and hang the Digestion and Biosynthesis 11 x 17 Posters and the Metabolic Pathways 11 x 17 Poster.


1. Have students start to think about how cows grow.

Tell students that in today’s activity they will learn about how cows grow through digestion and biosynthesis.

  • Introduce the terms Large Organic Molecules and Small Organic Molecules with examples. Students will need this information to explain digestion and biosynthesis.  
  • Strategic grouping with strong speakers
  • Hand out individual Cow Posters for students to trace molecules that can be written on and kept in the accompaniment of the Penny/Nickel exercise
  • Work on Tracing Atoms and Energy worksheet together and create a pie chart to show what makes up animals from the information students gather
  • At the end of the activity, have students explain the difference between biosynthesis and digestion to a partner.
  • Have the students “act out” digestion and biosynthesis by assigning them molecules using signs. Have them move around the room to represent the two processes by linking and unlinking hands.
Extending the Learning