Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Homeostasis mini lesson

Because I want my students to have a thorough understanding of homeostasis before moving into their study of human physiology in our A&P course, I spend a LOT of time on this topic during the first week of class.

Because the concept of homeostasis is usually new to my students . . . and because I use three different analogies in an attempt to "get at" what homeostatic control really means . . . I provide them with some "extra" material on homeostasis online. I call this module a "mini lesson" and it's intended as a supplement to what they already get in the textbook and the lecture/discussion session.

My "homeostasis mini lesson" includes three analogies of how homeostasis maintains balance in the body:

1. The fishbowl model compares the human body to an aquarium. Health of the system requires stability of the fluid environments inside the tank. Various devices (like organs) operate to maintain that stability (of temperature, oxygen level, etc.).

2. The engineered control system model uses a engineered thermostat to show students how automatic control sytems that maintain stability in a system are designed. This also helps introduce students to the essential terminology of homeostasis, which is borrowed from engineering.

3. The Wallenda model uses the famous family of circus wire-walkers to illustrate some additional concepts of balance in the body, such as how negative feedback helps keep us close to the set point.

Check out my Homeostasis Mini Lesson at my Lion Den website.

[NOTE: You are welcome to use the information in your own course by linking to my Mini Lesson. You may also use my material in your handouts (not for general publication) if you agree to cite the source as "Copyright Kevin Patton, lionden.com"]

Go to the Homeostasis models page of The A&P Professor blog for an expanded version of this article that also includes:
  • Specific teaching tips for each model
  • FREE slide sets that you can use in your course
  • FREE video clips that you can use in your course

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