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Kidney stones

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Information retrieval
Topic: Solutions & other mixtures

In the long hot days of summer, it's easy not to drink enough. Dehydration can cause excruciating pain from kidney stones. This activity stimulates discussion through a stunning image of a vicious-looking kidney stone.

Students apply their knowledge of saturated solutions and crystallization to find out how it formed. They then role-play a doctor-patient conversation or plan a video storyboard to share their new knowledge with others. This UPD8 is produced in partnership with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and 'Visions of Science'.

Published: 5th January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 6

Learning objectives

Students will learn how kidney stones form from saturated solutions in the kidneys.

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11 - 14 (KS3)

Solutions QCA 7h - when a solid is added to a liquid, eventually no more dissolved. Definitions of terms - solution, solubility, soluble

Running the activity

Timing starter - 5 minutes; main 10 minutes; plenary 15 minutes

Suggested starter Project or display on an OHP the image of a kidney stone (page 1) as students enter the class. Initiate discussion using the prompts on page 2, which can be projected or printed onto OHT. Tell students that the image is a close-up of a kidney stone.

Main activity: Students sequence the cards on page 3 to show how kidney stones are made. Each group will need a copy of this sheet, ideally cut up into cards before the lesson. The most sensible order is: F C E H A G D B
Possible plenary Students work in pairs to role-play a conversation between a doctor and a kidney stone sufferer - the doctor explains how the stone formed, and how the patient may be able to treat the problem him- or herself. The patient asks appropriate questions. Or ask students to plan a video storyboard or audio script to show how kidney stones are formed. Use these words: solvent, water, crystals, saturated, dehydrated.

News links

Kidney Stones
How kidney stones form and how to treat and prevent them
How kidney stones form and how to treat them

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Kidney Stones

Jul 9th, 2008

5 Star

Simple but effective and easy to incorporate into a scheme of work.

This acticity can be used as the main body of a lesson or for a starter/plenary.

Reviewer: Gill Dale

Kidney stones review

May 9th, 2008

5 Star

An awesome resource bank. They put science into the real world. The activities capture the students interest and promote student thinking discussion and debate. They give lessons a real buzz. and enrich student learning. I now teach in New Zealand and my collegaues are hooked too. Thankyou

Helen Armstrong
Western Springs College

Reviewer: Helen Armstrong

Kidbey stones

Oct 25th, 2007

5 Star

Great activity, kept students engaged and they really enjoyed the activity.

Reviewer: Paul Cadmore

kidney stones year 7

Apr 30th, 2007

3 Star

I carried out this lesson as part of QCA scheme 7H. This was a good activity that engaged the students. The pictires generated discussion and the concept of saturated solutions was understood. However, some students did not like the card sort activity. Thank you for this resource upd8!

Reviewer: Holly Singleton

My first teaching experience to year 8's

Oct 31st, 2006

4 Star

I really enjoyed this as part of my first teaching exercise. The pupils were also very engaged. I started with a rolling slide show focussing on concetrated solutions, which they had previously covered, having made saturated CuSO4 solutions.

The mystery object was quickly determined to be "crystalline" but I could see that no-one was even close to guessing where you might find it. I got them on track by saying it might be found in the body of a person who is suffering from a particular condition.

The card exercise took about 10 minutes including the time needed to cut up, and talk about the answers. However, this was a pretty bright bunch so they did not need to be led much.

All in all a good example for the solutions module.

Reviewer: Andrew Allen

Kidney stones

Mar 25th, 2005

5 Star

Used while I was on supply with Year 7. The first image of the crystalised stone prompted much discusion on entry. Some pupils in the class knew people who had suffered with kidney stones and gave vivid descriptions of the agony caused by them.
We revised particle theory and them modelled saturated solutions before beginning the activity. The posters produced showed their understanding of the work and were differentiated by outcome. enjoyed by pupils ( and me!)

Reviewer: Tanya Dempster