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Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage
written by Rebecca Vieyra
content provider: David Sidebottom
In this interdisciplinary lab, students use sausages as model "cadavers" to calculate fat content as a percentage of total mass. Learners explore both physics and biology as they use the buoyant force equation to determine the "cadaver's" volume, then use algebraic expressions to calculate the PBF (percent body fat).

The lesson was inspired by an article in The Physics Teacher magazine, authored by David Sidebottom: Use of Bratwurst Sausage as a Model Cadaver in Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences Lab Experiments.  See Related Materials for a link to the full article (free access).
Editor's Note: As stated by the author, "In an era when more than 50% of adult Americans are clinically obese, methods for accurately determining the percentage of body fat have gained renewed significance." Measuring PBF (percent body fat) with accuracy requires an understanding of both biology and physics.
1 supplemental document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Newton's Third Law
= Action/Reaction
Education Practices
- Active Learning
Fluid Mechanics
- Statics of Fluids
= Density and Buoyancy
Other Sciences
- Life Sciences
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Laboratory
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
- Assessment Material
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Algebra-based Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Assessment
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Intended Users:
Educator
Learner
Format:
application/pdf
Access Rights:
Limited free access
Access to the full collection is available only to active members of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
Restriction:
© 2016 American Association of Physics Teachers
Keywords:
Archimedes Principle, IPLS, Introductory Physics for Life Sciences, buoyant force, force pairs, lipids, volume
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 2, 2016 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
July 16, 2016 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
May 4, 2016

Next Generation Science Standards

From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (MS-LS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells. (MS-LS1-3)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Structure and Properties of Matter (PS1.A)
  • Substances are made from different types of atoms, which combine with one another in various ways. Atoms form molecules that range in size from two to thousands of atoms. (6-8)
Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction (Newton's third law). (6-8)
Structure and Function (LS1.A)
  • In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions. (6-8)
Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms (LS1.C)
  • As matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of living systems, chemical elements are recombined in different ways to form different products. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity (3-12)
  • Proportional relationships (e.g. speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) among different types of quantities provide information about the magnitude of properties and processes. (6-8)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (6-8)
Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems (1-12)
  • Scientific knowledge is based on the assumption that natural laws operate today as they did in the past and they will continue to do so in the future. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
    • Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (9-12)
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (9-12)
    • Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students' own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)
  • Planning and carrying out investigations in 9-12 builds on K-8 experiences and progresses to include investigations that provide evidence for and test conceptual, mathematical, physical, and empirical models. (9-12)
    • Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (9-12)
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
  • Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)
    • Use mathematical representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)

NGSS Nature of Science Standards (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)
  • Planning and carrying out investigations in 9-12 builds on K-8 experiences and progresses to include investigations that provide evidence for and test conceptual, mathematical, physical, and empirical models. (9-12)
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
  • Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)
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R. Vieyra, , 2016, WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392).
AJP/PRST-PER
R. Vieyra, Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage, , 2016, <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392>.
APA Format
Vieyra, R. (2016). Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392
Chicago Format
Vieyra, Rebecca. "Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage." 2016. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392 (accessed 26 May 2017).
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Vieyra, Rebecca. Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage. 2016. 26 May 2017 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392>.
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@techreport{ Author = "Rebecca Vieyra", Title = {Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage}, Month = {May}, Year = {2016} }
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%A Rebecca Vieyra
%T Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage
%D May 4, 2016
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Report
%A Vieyra, Rebecca
%D May 4, 2016
%T Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage
%8 May 4, 2016
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14027&DocID=4392


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Body Science: Calculating Body Fat Percentage:

Is Based On Use of Bratwurst Sausage as a Model Cadaver (Article)

This article published in The Physics Teacher magazine provided the inspiration for this cataloged lesson plan.

relation by Caroline Hall

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Jan 5 - Mar 31, 2017