Cervical Vertebrae

Angel Lee Gilbert Douglass Middle Academy
543 N. Waller
Chicago IL 60644
(312) 534-6176


This lesson has been designed for 8th grade learners, but can be used for
other levels. This lesson was developed to show through the use of diagrams and
models the function of the cervical vertebrae and how easy it is to damage the
cervical vertebrae. Focus: Christoper Reeve

Learners will: determine how and why he was hurt.
why he needed his breathing supplemented.
explain why he could not breath.
demonstrate how he fell.
discuss if he is a paraplegic & recovery techniques.
create their own models.

Materials Needed:

rice cakes = bones
marshmallows = discs
straws = spine
thread = nerves
(or twine)
needles = used to thread the nerves


1. To soften the rice cakes for piercing by the straw, learners must drop
several drops of water in the CENTER of the rice cakes.
2. When the rice cakes are soften IN THE CENTER, assemble by putting the
straw through rice cake, marshmallow, rice cake, marshmallow, etc. until the
desired number are lined up.
3. Thread needle with black or red thread, and "stitch" through
marshmallow near the upper rice cake with a single thread. Do this for each


To simulate Christopher Reeve's accident, learners will collapse the
"vertebrae" by bringing hands together with force, keeping the "spine" between
middle and ring fingers, close to the palms.

Performance Assessment:

The outcome for each learner will determine how well they listened, worked
in cooperative learning groups, followed directions and therefore, successfully
completed the objectives. Each learner will read informational packet for
discussion, participate in discussion (20%), produce one page report (50%), and
construct their own cervical vertebrae section or sections (30%).

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