Summer School – Day 4 – Anatomy and Physiology

We started out the day with our first exam. Well, really, we started out with a game of Pictionary before the exam, as a way of reviewing the material. Here are the Pictionary terms we used:

ATP and ADPBacterial
Correlation vs
Inputs of Cellular
Inputs of

Plant Cell
Potential vs
kinetic energy

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to take pictures of their drawings, but I’ve reconstructed a few of them below. Can you figure out which of the terms up above are represented here? (Answers at the bottom of the post)

They took the exam online, using an online service called EasyTestMaker – I’ve been using it since I first started teaching, and I absolutely love it. I pay for a pro account, but it’s been well worth it. It allows me to create tests online, which can then be exported to Word or PDF format for printing. But it also allows me to publish them online. I provide students with a link to the exam, and the password, and they complete it right there online. I use mostly multiple choice and matching questions, but there are lots of other options, and it’s also possible to set up free response short answer or essay questions. Images can be inserted, and you can set the points for each question manually. Best of all, it grades everything but the free responses automatically (no running scantrons WHOO HOO)!!

This is what I see when creating the exam:

And this is what they see when taking the exam:

After the exam, we moved on to some new material: organ systems.

I tend not to cover loads of anatomy and physiology in my intro classes – I’d rather have more time to spend on diversity of living things, and ecology, toward the end of the semester. But I do like to cover a few things that I think they really need to know about how their bodies work. Things like how pain medications work in the body (“how does the aspirin know where to go????”), and how drugs (including caffeine!!!) affect the nervous system.

When we returned from lunch, it seemed appropriate to do our next activity: exploring Nutrition Facts (the labels that are found on all food products). To prepare for this, I’d asked everyone to track all the food and beverages they consume for at least three days. I suggested that they use the SuperTracker website ( Then they worked through a series of questions designed to help them understand the labels on food, as well as their own patterns of consumption, in terms of nutrients.

Our next subject is one I like to spend a generous amount of time on: reproduction. A) students find it interesting and B) it’s pretty important in the grand scheme of things. 😀 In addition to discussing where babies come from (*SPOILER ALERT* It’s not a stork or the cabbage patch). I also do a run-through of birth control methods (and their failure rates) – this particular unit usually generates a lot of discussion and questions.

  • “I can’t get pregnant during my period, can I?” (Yes, you can! It’s not as likely, but definitely possible).
  • “Does the pill really increase the risk of cancer?” (Sometimes maybe/yes . . . sometimes no. It depends on the type of cancer, and the length of time the pill was used, and the length of time since stopping use)
  • “Is it harmful, long term, to go without periods while taking the pill?” (No, it’s pretty normal, due to the way the hormones affect the menstrual cycle. There’s often no period because there’s no build-up of uterine lining that would need to be shed, as happens during the normal cycle. So, in general, no, not harmful, while on certain types of hormonal birth control).

The take-home messages? Doubling up on protection (e.g. condoms + oral contraceptives, or a diaphragm + spermicide) is GOOD. Know which forms of birth control help protect against STDs, and which don’t. And of course, the only 100% guaranteed method of avoiding pregnancy? Abstinence (which may or may not be the right choice – every individual needs to make these decisions based on their own values and lifestyle).

We ended up the day by watching a film – Nova’s “The Miracle of Life.” It’s a good film, that culminates in video of a woman giving birth. Funnily enough, my students liked the film, but thought the couple who are featured throughout (the parents of the baby we see being born) were kind of douchey, LOL. (I’d never really thought about it before, but I can’t say they’re wrong). Also, John Lithgow narrates the film, and while he does a good job, I can’t really hear his voice anymore without having “Dexter” flashbacks. 😉

ʎʇıɹɐןod ˙ɔ ןoɹʇuoɔ ןɐʇuǝɯıɹǝdxǝ ˙q ɹǝʎɐןıq pıdıןoɥdsoɥd ˙ɐ :sɹǝʍsuɐ ʎɹɐuoıʇɔıd


Selected Materials

Nutrition Facts Worksheet

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