Get to know your kidneys and how to keep them healthy

Try this STEM activity about the science behind healthy choices for your kidneys

Get to know your kidneys and how to keep them healthy

Sanford Fit and Sanford PROMISE (Program for the Midwest Initiative in Science Exploration) have teamed up to bring you an amazing new video lesson about the science behind healthy choices and your kidneys. 

Why kidneys?

The kidney is one of the many organs that are crucial for keeping you healthy and you probably have two of them. They not only filter your blood, but they also maintain the proper balance of water and nutrients in your body.

“The kidneys get rid of metabolic waste products and maintain the composition of our blood to provide an ideal internal environment for all our organs,” said Dr. Kameswaran Surendran, associate scientist at Sanford Research.

Kidney research at Sanford

Dr. Surendran leads groundbreaking kidney research studies at Sanford Research in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His lab team focuses on the different types of kidney cells and the role genetics play in proper kidney function. Currently, his lab is focusing on how genetics influence the kidney’s ability to respond to certain types of diets.

“We hope to be able to identify eating habits that are less stressful for our kidneys to keep our kidneys and our bodies healthy,” he said.

One of the many interesting things to understand about the kidney is how it filters blood. The kidneys remove waste from the blood while retaining contents that are necessary for proper body functioning. Most of the blood contents are initially filtered out and flow through a tube heading towards the bladder.

Before the liquid leaves the kidney, the kidney cells reclaim the pieces that the body still needs and returns them to the bloodstream.

“It would be similar to us deciding to clean our homes by first throwing out most of our belongings along with our trash down a long and winding trash chute, and as everything falls through the chute, our family members stand along the chute to actively grab back all the things we still value before it is too late.”

How to keep kidneys healthy

Now that you know how amazing kidneys are, you can take action to help keep your kidneys healthy by making fit choices.

Being active, choosing healthy foods, and drinking plenty of water are great choices you can make to keep your kidneys and body healthy.

Keeping kidneys hydrated is really important. Thirst, nausea, headaches, and even tiredness could be signs that you aren’t getting enough water.

Get hands-on

To learn more and have some fun in your classroom or at home, explore the free resources below. We have a cool video and fun printables to help you and your students learn more about kidneys.

Learning about kidneys video

This video covers three things:

  1. A hands-on experiment you can do at home or in your classroom
  2. Easy-to-understand explanation of how a kidney works
  3. Interesting facts about the kidney from a Sanford Research scientist

Kidney lessons printables

Use the printables to guide you through the lesson and to decorate your space with healthy messages.

  • Coloring sheets: These sheets show the different aspects of kidney function. Sheet 1 includes the excretory system including kidneys, ureters, and bladder. Sheet 2 is a cross section of the kidney. Sheet 3 is a nephron and collecting duct.
  • Compare and contrast: This sheet is used to help students learn about similarities and differences. You could compare and contrast between the excretory system and digestive system or between your filter and an actual kidney.
  • Kidney experiment: This document will help you understand the hands-on activity shown in the video. This is just a starting guide – feel free to let kids get creative and take the experiment in their own direction.
  • Scientific method: This document allows students to be scientists by following the same procedure used by researchers. This can be used to frame the experiment from the video and can be used for any question a learner may want to pursue.
  • Vocabulary page: The vocabulary terms included in this document are used in the video. Principal and intercalated cells are specific cells that are studied by Dr. Surendran at Sanford Research.
  • Healthy choices posters: Decorate your space and inspire kids to make healthy choices.

Sanford PROMISE aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and raise awareness of the benefits of research. Together, Sanford Fit and Sanford PROMISE are some of the leaders in Sanford Health’s outreach for youth.

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Posted In Children's, Family Medicine, Healthy Living, Parenting, Research