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Maximum jump

This parody (written by Greg Crowther) is sung to the tune of "Jump" (written and performed by Van Halen).


This song, sung from the perspective of a frog addressing the scientists who experiment upon him, was originally written for Biology 334 at the University of Puget Sound in the fall of 2002. It is a summary of the paper Built for jumping: the design of the frog muscular system by Gordon J. Lutz and Lawrence C. Rome (Science 263: 370-2, 1994).


I get up,
And then I come back down;
You've got film
To record each bound.

Well, you know
Power's what I need.
My muscle pulls on the tendon
At the right length and speed.

You know my sarcomeres
Are roughly 1.8 to 2.3 microns long.
That's the range where I'm strong.
The data couldn't be wrong!

Might as well jump. Jump!
A maximum jump.
Go ahead, jump. Jump!
A maximum jump.

Two muscles in a power contest --
Which would lose?
You say you won't know
Unless you know the velocity used.

When plotting power versus speed,
One third Vmax is where peak power is seen
For a muscle machine.
Oh, can't you see what I mean?

Might as well jump. Jump!
A maximum jump.
Might as well jump. Jump!
A maximum jump.

Might as well jump. Jump!
A maximum jump.
Get it and jump. Jump!
A maximum jump.

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) Based on high-speed videotapes and other data, Lutz & Rome concluded that the semimembranosus muscles of jumping frogs operate near the peaks of two different curves. Name and draw the two curves.

(2) The song says, "One third Vmax is where peak power is seen." What is Vmax?

(3) The song refers to muscles as a machine. In what sense is a muscle a machine?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)