Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shepherd's Apps for Teaching Physiology

Here are some computer-based activities that help students learn specific concepts of physiology produced by veteran professor Pete Shepherd.  Dr. Shepherd has been developing over the course of many years based on his extensive teaching experience.

A while back, I told you about the Life Science Teaching Resource Community and its archive of free teaching and learning resources.  Here's an example of a collection of resources from that archive that your students can use to "play around with" physiological conditions to see what changes occur in the body as a result.  All of them can either be used in the classroom/lab setting or can be used individually by students for self-learning.

Included in the collection are these apps, most of which are available on multiple platforms:

Capillary Pressure, which illustrates the vascular control of capillary hydrostatic pressure.

Alveolar Gas, which lets you study some of the physiological factors that affect the composition of alveolar and expired gases. Such factors include dead space, tidal volume, the frequency of breathing, and the rates of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production. A worksheet is included.

Blood Oxygen, which enables the user to change variables like the PO2, hemoglobin concentration, and hemoglobin's affinity for oxygen and calculate the concentrations of oxygen in the form of oxyhemoglobin and dissolved oxygen. Simulations include anemia, polycythemia, comparing the effects of oxygen inhalation in a pulmonary "patient" with a normal person, carbon monoxide poisoning, hyperbaria, etc., as well as the concepts of the Fick Principle and the arteriovenous oxygen difference.

Pulse Pressure, which simulates the arterial pressure pulse. The user explores factors like heart rate, stroke volume, arterial compliance, and arterial resistance and see how they affect the arterial pulse pressure.

Sat Curves, which allows the user to demonstrate the effects of pH, PCO2, DPG, and temperature on the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve. Two graphs are displayed so that one can serve as a control and compared with the other. Cursors on both graphs can be manipulated to obtain exact readings of oxyhemoglobin saturation as specified PO2s.

If you want to check out these amazing resources, please access them in the Life Science Teaching Resource Community at

Image credit: Shepherd

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