Basics of the Endocrine System

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12571

Imagine a busy place like a supermarket, and no one told the workers what to do. Would shelves get stocked or floors swept or money be taken? There are managers that tell your body systems what to do!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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The human body is like a living city, with all kinds of systems and activities going on all the time. Glands give the orders that tell the systems what to do. Let's pay them a visit!

Think about how quickly messages need to move through your body.

Glands, a collection of cells that produce and release chemicals, located throughout your body, provide the body a quick way to move chemical messages to organs and tissues. The image below shows the thyroid gland in your neck:

These glands are responsible for maintaining chemical balance in your body and make up the endocrine system, an important body system for regulating body functions like growth, development, emotional response, and metabolism.

The endocrine system relies on glands spread throughout your body that provide easy access to other organs and tissues. Glands release chemical messages in the form of hormones. There are about 20 different types of hormones produced and released from each gland in the body, performing various functions.

Take some time to learn about some of the major glands comprising the endocrine system. As you read, refer to the image of the entire system above. The hypothalamus is found in the brain and connects the endocrine system and the nervous system as the brain sends messages through nerve cells. Another important gland found in the brain, the pituitary gland is one of the most important glands in the endocrine system. It produces hormones that direct other glands located in the body, as well as hormones that impact mood, emotions, and development. Notice how small the pituitary gland is, but it serves such an important function!

The pineal gland, also located in the brain, produces hormones that regulate your sleep patterns — just imagine what would happen if this gland disappeared!

The thyroid gland is located in your neck and produces hormones that control your metabolism. Metabolism is a collection of chemical reactions in your body, such as breaking down food to produce energy.

Another important set of glands in the endocrine system is the adrenal glands. Located on top of the kidneys, the adrenal glands have two parts with specific functions. The outer layer of the adrenal gland, the adrenal cortex, produces hormones that regulate water and salt concentrations in the body. They also help the body respond to stress and initiate sexual development. The adrenal medulla, the internal component, produces adrenaline, a chemical that increases blood pressure and heart rate. This component is very helpful during the fight-or-flight response to stress.

These are just some of the glands located in the endocrine system. In the Got It? section, you will take a tour of the endocrine system glands using an online interactive. Before moving on, reflect on the important role that hormones released by endocrine system glands play in the human body.

  • What body functions could be interrupted if there were a hormone imbalance, or a gland stopped working?

Discuss this with a parent or teacher before moving on to the Got It? section.

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