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Glucose Homeostasis

by Greg Crowther


Context

This jingle was originally written for Biology 242 and 351 at UW-Bothell. It quickly reviews the regulation of plasma glucose levels by glucagon and insulin. Ideally, it is performed in an angry punk-rock style -- homeostasis has been disrupted, and you are NOT happy about it! If instructors specifically want students to know that glucagon is produced by the islets of Langerhans' alpha cells, and that insulin is produced by the islets' beta cells, they can substitute "How do the alpha cells respond?" for "How does the pancreas respond?" and "What do the beta cells dump in?" for "What does the pancreas dump in?"


Lyrics

When there's too little glucose in the blood (in the blood),
How does the pancreas respond?
Glucagon-gon-gon makes blood glucose strong!
Glucagon (gon gon), glucagon!

When there's too much glucose in the blood (in the blood),
What does the pancreas dump in?
Insulin-lin-lin makes blood glucose thin!
Insulin (lin lin), insulin!


Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

For this song, the meanings of "makes blood glucose strong" (i.e., increases blood glucose concentration) and "makes blood glucose thin" (i.e., decreases blood glucose concentration) are not necessarily obvious to students. Dr. Lekelia (Kiki) Jenkins recommends reinforcing these meanings through kinesthetic movement. For "makes blood glucose strong," students can increase in size by spreading their arms and sitting up or standing up tall. For "makes blood glucose thin," students can pantomime an insulin injection and then shrinking themselves by slumping and compressing their arms to their bodies.

Students can also be challenged to use the song (and any related knowledge that they have) to answer questions like those below.


Other Files

karaoke

MP3 (demo)

sheet music (with melody play-back)


Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.


Study Questions

(1) What is meant by the phrases "make blood glucose strong" and "make blood glucose thin"?

(2) Often people refer to glucose concentrations in the plasma rather than in the blood. What's the difference?

(3) What concentration of glucose would be too much? What concentration would be too little?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)