Activity 5.3 - Explaining How Cows Grow: Digestion (40 min)

Target Student Performance

Students explain how matter moves and changes and how energy changes during digestion in a cow (connecting macroscopic observations with atomic-molecular models and using the principles of conservation of matter and energy).

ResourcesYou Provide

Resources Provided

Resources Provided


Print one copy of the 5.3 Explanations Tool for Cow Digestion and 5.3 How do Digest Food? Reading (if you choose to use it) for each student. Prepare a computer and a projector to display the PPT. Print and hang the Digestion and Biosynthesis 11 x 17 Posters. In this activity, your students will need to use the Three Questions Explanation Checklist on the back of the Three Questions Handout. Be sure to have this available to students and see the notes in the Modifications at the end of the Activity for ideas about how to use it.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.

  • You may want students to first complete the front side of the Explanations Tool with the Animals Matter Tracing Tool and check it together as a class to confirm that the arrows and responses to the prompts are correct. Then, students can use the corrected graphic organizer as a tool to construct their written explanation.
  • As the Animals Matter Tracing Tool is completed, post in the classroom so students can refer to it.
  • Encourage students to explain verbally as well as writing on the Animals Matter Tracing Tool
  • Have students highlight challenging vocabulary in the 5.3 How do Digest Food? Reading to support the word wall
  • Refer to the word wall for questions on digestion related vocabulary.
Extending the Learning