William Harvey Lesson for Kids: Work & Contributions

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  • 0:04 William Harvey
  • 0:53 The Heart, Blood, &…
  • 3:00 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

William Harvey was a doctor who discovered how blood flows through the body. This lesson will teach you about Harvey, what he figured out about the heart and blood, and some other cool facts about his findings.

William Harvey

You probably already know that your heart pumps blood through your body. You can even feel your heart pumping your blood if you put your hand over the left side of your chest. And although this seems like information that everyone knows, there was a time when people didn't understand how the heart worked and how blood flowed through the body. However, one man uncovered a lot about the heart and blood.

William Harvey was a doctor in England in the 1600s. He made many achievements and even served as a doctor to the King of England. Harvey was curious about how blood flowed through the body, and he made several discoveries that changed what people once thought about blood and the heart. Let's explore some of the things we know today because of William Harvey's discoveries.

The Heart, Blood, & Circulation

Back before people knew how the body really worked, they had some very strange ideas about it, kind of like how people once thought the world was flat. In Harvey's day, doctors thought that the lungs pushed blood through the body.

But today, thanks to Harvey's research, we know that the organ that pushes blood around our bodies is actually the heart. Harvey discovered this by researching the hearts of animals whose bodily systems are similar to humans. He found that the heart pumps to move the blood through the body, much like an air pump pushes air through a bicycle tire.

Before Harvey, most doctors thought that the tissues in your body used up blood and that new blood was made after your body broke down the food you ate. But Harvey realized that there was too much blood pumping through the heart for the tissues to soak in, like trying to pour an entire pitcher of water into a kitchen sponge. There's no way a small sponge can suck in all that liquid, and neither can the tissues in your body.

He figured out that the body couldn't make and use so much blood that fast, which led him to the idea that blood continually circulates, or constantly moves through the body, instead of being used up.

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