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Surface Area, Eh?

by Greg Crowther


Context

Surface area, often abbreviated A, is an important parameter throughout anatomy and physiology, yet many courses only touch upon it when covering one or two particular topics, like the lungs. This song emphasizes the general importance of surface area in all physiological systems.


Lyrics

Elephant ears and microvilli:
What do they have in common?
High surface area! (High surface area!)
High surface area! (High!)
Laws of Fick and Fourier:
What do they have in common?
A, surface area! (A, surface area!)
A, surface area! (A!)

If you ask why (why why)
Is it so vast (vast vast),
Here's my reply (ply ply):
It means that transfers happen fast!

Lung alveoli and gill lamellae
To an overheated scrotum:
High surface area! (High surface area!)
High surface area! (High!)
Laws of Fick and Fourier:
Remember when you quote 'em:
A, surface area! (A, surface area!)
A, surface area! (A!)


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 are described by the law of Fick and the law of Fourier, respectively?

(2) How does a high surface area helpful for each of the specific structures mentioned in the song?

(3) What are the disadvantages, if any, of having a high surface area?

(4) List two distinct locations in the body where microvilli are found.

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)