Science in Schools - human bones workshop
Science in Schools - human bones workshop ©

British Council France

Human skeletons are not scary - instead they are amazing, consisting of 206 bones. did you know that when you were born you had about 300 bones, but that some fused together as they grew?


This unit provides opportunities for your students to learn about the function of the skeleton, the names of human bones and to experiment with the scientific processes used by the ancient Egyptians by mummifying a banana.

How did ancient Egyptians mummify a body?

As salt absorbs water via osmosis, it is used in mummification to remove moisture from the body. This causes the tissues (skin, muscles, etc.) of the body to dehydrate, yet they remain flexible, preserving the body, as bacteria cannot live in very dry conditions. If a body is not mummified then bacteria in and on the body will start to cause decay. Nowadays, we would use a freezer to preserve a body, as very cold temperatures also have the same effect.

What is natron?

Natron is a salt (a natural mix of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate) that could be found as crystals along the edges of salt lakes in ancient Egypt. 


  • To identify that humans and some other animals have skeletons for support, protection and movement.
  • To learn about human anatomy, the names of human bones and the preservation process of human remains in an archaeological context.
  • To compare English and French vocabulary for scientific words and see the similarities and differences.

Age range:


Curriculum links:

Science, Modern Languages, History, English

Preparation needed:

You will need:

For activity 1:

  • print outs of the worksheets
  • pens/pencils
  • model or large image of human skeleton
  • images of animals, vertebrates and invertebrates
  • reference materials
  • internet access if available.

For activity 2:

  • bananas
  • salt
  • plastic boxes/containers
  • needles and thread
  • stuffing material: could be anything like sawdust, cotton, etc.
  • nice smelling herbs/spices (dry)
  • old pieces of cloth (for example from T-shirts).

You will need to:

  • Photocopy the anatomy worksheets.
  • Prepare a space in the classroom where the banana peels can be left for two weeks in the salt. Make cleaning staff aware they are not to be thrown away!
  • Devote time to go through the information on the ancient Egyptians and the mummification process.