A Physiologist's Blessing
by Greg Crowther
This is a song that can be used at the start and/or end of a physiology course. It covers four key core concepts: flow down gradients, cell-to-cell communication, homeostatic adherence to setpoints, and matching of structure and function. These are the four themes of the Human Anatomy & Physiology textbook by Erin Amerman, and also four of the 15 core concepts in the book The Core Concepts of Physiology: A New Paradigm for Teaching Physiology by Joel Michael et al. The song is also an attempt to wish students well in their lives beyond the classroom.
Well, hello there! Yes, it's me --
Your instructor for A&P.
If you'll pardon my pedagogy,
I offer you this wish for what your life may be....
May your gradients drive the flows you need to thrive;
May your cells transmit well at their junctions;
May your setpoints hold in weather hot or cold,
And your structures stay aligned with your functions!
• karaoke (with Monty Harper)
• MP3 (demo, with Monty Harper)
• music video
• sheet music
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.
(1) This song lists four core concepts of physiology. Match each line of the chorus to the corresponding core concept.
(2) Give an example of a biological structure that is well-suited to its function. Also, try to think of a structure that seems ILL-suited to its function.
(3) The lyrics say that gradients drive flows. What is a gradient, in general? Give an example of a biologically relevant gradient.
(4) The lyrics refer to "junctions" of cellular communication. Do two cells need to be next to each other to communicate? Explain.
(5) The lyrics say, "May your setpoints hold in weather hot or cold." What is a setpoint, in general? Which setpoint(s) would be most important to the survival of an organism experiencing highly variable weather?
(6) Considering the specific content covered by this song, is there anything important that is missing, unclear, or misleading? If so, what?
(Answers may be found on the answers page.)