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Shine a Light on a Lumen

by Greg Crowther


"Lumen" is a word that anatomy and physiology instructors use all the time in many different contexts, yet students often have no idea what we're talking about. Here is a song to set everyone straight once and for all!


Shine a light on a lumen;
It's the middle of a tube where a fluid is movin'
And surrounded by a lining of epithelium.
But if you are assumin'
All lumens are large, then look again and zoom in;
Organelles inside a cell have lumens of their own.

Every artery and each vein: there's a lumen!
The neural tube creating your brain: there's a lumen!
The whole gastrointestinal tract: there's a lumen!
The Golgi, where the proteins are packed: there's a lumen!
The reproductive tract, his and hers: there's a lumen!
The organelle where lysis occurs: there's a lumen!
The bronchi and the small bronchioles: there's a lumen!
Every tube containing a hole: there's a lumen!


Other Files

MP3 (demo; with Murph + the Mechanics)

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 the audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity should 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 "the organelle where lysis occurs"?

(2) How does lumen's meaning in biology differ from its meaning in physics?

(3) The song notes that "every artery and each vein" has a lumen. Do capillaries have lumens too?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)