Humor in the Classroom – More A-HA with More HAHA

Generating A-HA moments with HAHA moments

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Really do you get more AHA moments when you have more HAHA moments?  “Well-planned, appropriate, contextual humor can help students ingrain information,” explains Garner, who in his introduction to psychology course uses TV programs like the audition episodes from “American Idol” to demonstrate such psychological concepts as self-handicapping and selection bias” (Stambor, 2006).

“Professors’ jobs are to educate, not to entertain,” says Shatz. “But if humor can make the learning process more enjoyable, then I think everybody benefits as a result.  And the benefits may not be limited to academic performance, according to Berk in “Humor as an Instructional Defibrillator.” In the book, he suggests that humor’s primary psychological role is as an emotional response or buffer to relieve physical stress. Moreover, laughter has been shown to stimulate a physiological effect that decreases stress hormones such as serum cortisol, dopac and epinephrine” (Stambor, 2006).

In light of these ideas, and the temptation that perhaps everyone could enjoy school a bit more, I offer a list of activities from our archives that seek to use humor to enhance education.

**You will notice that a lot of these activities include physical movement.  Now I know these are college age students, however, even older students start to zone out when sitting for too long, so these exercises serve several purposes in getting people re-engaged with their surroundings, waking them up and making them pay attention….. and learn something!!  Just remember that by applying limits, parameters and guidelines you can keep the humor focused on the material.

You can always fall back on having students try to write in a humorous way such as:

· Write an advertisement for a body part / physiological pathway or process: film or present it live.

· Write a limerick about parts or function.

Or try these ideas listed by system / category:

Lymphatic/Immunity Activities Sectioncheck out #2 – lots of potential for learning and humor as students film battles between action figures representing immune system antagonists and protagonists.

Acid/Base Balance Section – Osmosis – Activity #1 – Silliness includes laughter.  Students acting as molecules on either side of a semi-permeable membrane.  If the actual activity does not elicit laughter, post a video of the action speeded up.

Circulatory SystemActivity #1 & #2 – A literal walk through the circulatory system having stations of students representing the stops along the way and red or blue balloons or papers to represent the red blood cells.

Digestive System – Okay, face it the digestive system is rife with humor no matter what you do.  This is a class taken by pre-med, nursing and biology students, right?  Activities 3 & 4 offer lots of opportunity for guided humor in relation to the digestive system.

Integumentary SystemActivity #3 – This can be done by you in class, or with assistants who fill in voices or provide ideas to narrate the provided video.  Encourage humor – or have students make their own voiceovers to the video and post on Blackboard.  You should probably give reminders about appropriate content.

Muscular SystemActivities 1 & 5 – both involve linking dance with learning muscle names.  Nothing too fancy – just fun with lots of potential for kinesthetic learning, and again, a break from sitting and listening.

Reproductive SystemActivities 2, 3 & 5 – not that you need as much help increasing interest in this topic… but again humor will help learning and can also ease tension if some folks are uncomfortable with the subject matter.  Reproducing with the Stars just might be syndicated soon 😉  Get your game on now!

Respiratory SystemActivity 1 – Buffer Ball teaches about respiratory acidosis and just might be an excuse to get outside for a little bit for more space! Alternatively limit the number of people playing at one time and have others watch or video the fun.

Skeletal SystemActivity 1 – Hey Macarena!  Change the words (or have students change the words) of Macarena to make a dance that touches and names bones.

Urinary SystemActivity 4 – Being a Nephron – another chance to stand up and move just a little bit.  Encourage participants to look and sound like what they imagine their part of the filtration of urine looks or sounds like.

Laugh & Learn!

Stambor, Z., (2006). How laughing leads to learning: Research suggests tha humor produces psychological and physiological benefits that help students learn.  American Psychological Association: Monitor on Psychology, 37 (6), p. 62.


In Their Own Words & Thoughts & Interests

A very simple story to illustrate a larger problem.  When I was a special education teacher I had a student who stated that he was unable to multiply.  We were standing at the blackboard and he was struggling to decipher 6 X 4 = ?

I explained that multiplying is really just a short cut for adding groups of the same size, but he still looked at me with frustration and the certainty that he could never do this problem.  Knowing that this boys’ Dad was a carpenter and that he sometimes helped his Dad on weekends I said, “If you had 4 pieces of drywall to mount and needed 6 drywall screws per piece, how many drywall screws would you need?  He immediately answered 24.  I of course then informed him that he just multiplied.

Of course the problems your students encounter are not necessarily that simple, and the solution is rarely arrived at so quickly or so dramatically, but there can be problems of communication exacerbated by a history of failure that impedes student progress.  My 4th grade student knew that he was bad at school work, AND he knew he was good at helping his Dad.  Helping students to find what they are good at, what they are confident about and expounding on that can start with allowing them to use their own language and thought process associated with success when solving problems or considering complicated sets of information.

– Ask students to consider the information from the viewpoint of their most successful endeavor or persona.  In other words, if the student is most successful when babysitting, have her think of herself as babysitting while studying A&P.  Ask her to relate what she is learning to babysitting.  If the student is most successful at a video game or when playing music or a sport or entertaining friends, then encourage that student to consider him or herself to be learning the information for that endeavor, through the language of that endeavor and as related to that endeavor.

– Allow students to describe what they know in their own language – even if it is not purely the language of A&P.  You can acknowledge the correctness of what they say and then encourage them to translate that into the language of A&P.  Or you can congratulate their analogies and understanding and then supply the correct terminology.

– Ask students, whenever possible, for answers to open ended questions in which they must describe or explain something.  Encourage them to relate what they learn in A&P to preferred topics in their writings.  Proficiency comes with practice!

– An A&P professor of mine suggested (and offered) projects in which it was our job to explain a process to a younger or less experienced person.  That person could be a novice in whatever the student enjoys or is successful in / knowledgeable about.


Mapping the Big Picture via Homeostasis

It can be very hard for someone who is fascinated by a topic to understand when or why a student does not think about that topic with curiosity and depth.  Is it possible to merely memorize facts and not question them or link them or categorize them into a broader and more interesting understanding?  Of course most of you KNOW that the answer is ‘Yes’ but it is at times hard to comprehend or teach around that realization.

The second semester of A&P presents the opportunity for students to see repeat performances of osmosis, transport, chemical buffering, neurologic and endocrinologic response to stimulation or to distress… all in an effort to maintain homeostasis….. or the ability to purchase and consume a milkshake – whichever comes first!  Students who recognize patterns and understand processes as agents of change or homeostasis rather than just as lines on a flashcard to be memorized will come away with a better understanding of physiology.

To encourage this deeper understanding in your students I suggest the following:
1) When discussing a particular response, chemical reaction, type of transport, or defense, always ask where the class has encountered this before.  Help students see the patterns involved in physiologic activity and response.

2) Provide or point students to graphic organizers (links to follow) with the assignment or suggestion that they ‘map’ out homeostasis or the components thereof.

a) At a basic level they can just keep a running list of where certain activities or reactions can be found, such as a list for osmosis; active transport; potassium-pump; specific buffering reactions; etc.

b) At a more advanced level they can use a concept map to tie all of these lists back to homeostasis.  Here is a link to a concept map example.
A concept map is great for brainstorming what you know and finding new links between things you know.
Link to blank concept map
A Multi-Layer Layout is great for organizing known information, or in this case continuing to add to a few categories with Homeostasis as the main idea and categories such as pH, oxygen level and ATP creation / usage at the next level.
Link to blank Multi-Layer Layout
A Cause and Effect Map is just what it sounds like – a way to map out a chain of reactions or triggering events.
Link to blank Cause and Effect Map

c) Remind students that their textbooks are usually set up with some sort of organization layout such as a multi-layer layout in the headings of the chapters and sections.  Very often fonts and colors are used to designate where in an organizational schema the information under the heading lies.  Students can increase their understanding of the information by paying attention to the hierarchical presentation of information in their textbook…. and hopefully in your presentation (make sure your categories are clear in presentation!).

3) Help students continually ask ‘Why?’’ about processes and reactions.  Why does the body respond in this way?  How does it respond in this way?  What triggers the response?  Is the response automatic or does the individual decide to engage it?  What are the consequences if the response does not take place?  What would keep the response from taking place?



Relating lessons on artistic creativity to becoming a creative educator.

Following are “8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator[1]”–by Leo Babauta, syndicated from, Dec 26, 2013.  The lessons were garnered in a tour of Pixar studios provided by a Mr. Bernhard.

Creativity is not just about product, it is about process.  I believe that the lessons of creativity in art speak volumes to the successful evolution of inspiring endeavors and products for teachers and learners as well.  I will attempt to elucidate this opinion following each creativity lesson.

1) “Tenacity matters.  Bernhard told a story of a friend who did a drawing every day, for more than 3 years, and became amazingly good by the end of that stint. He shared Looney Toons legendary animator Chuck Jones’ assertion that you have to draw 100,000 bad drawings before you have a good drawing. Bernhard said you might not seem very good at something when you start out, but if you’re persistent, tenacious even, you can get amazingly good.”

Of course the stuff of good education also improves with practice and experience, and many educators are presented with the opportunity to try, try again, but I think the operative word here is tenacity.  Tenacity implies doggedly holding onto something; not giving up and not letting go of a goal or ideal.  Simply lecturing doesn’t necessarily make one a better lecturer.  Holding onto the vision of a good or inspiring lecturer and paying attention to what makes a difference and what doesn’t speaks more to the tenacity that can help an educator grow within his or her field.  Keeping an eye on the goal of providing material in a way that inspires, challenges and teaches will help keep the mind open to trying new techniques and perhaps not giving up on students who are failing despite interest and application.  There is also tenacity required in discussing options for class time use that satisfy both your employer, your students and your desire or ability to be more creative and offer deeper learning experiences in the classroom.

2) “Art is your particular telling of reality.  When we talked about letting go of preconceived ideas and drawing what you actually see, Bernhard compared it to a night out with one of his friends. While Bernhard might just recount that night by saying, “We went out and had some food and went home”, his friend might have noticed a lot of interesting details that Bernhard didn’t, and tell a story with those details in a way that’s interesting and hilarious. Same experience, different interpretation, different details.”

I think this is incredibly relevant to teaching and to teaching science in particular.  Different perspectives are not readily evaluated or presented in most science classes and yet, every person’s experience with the reality of science and scientific law is different and does offer a different perspective, even if the law or the fact doesn’t vary at all.  Allowing yourself and students to elaborate on the connections that each or you make between experience and  learning will enrich the process for everyone.  All people have some interest in their own bodies and that interest mght tapped by providing perspective and ‘stories’ about the function, process and beauty of the human body, (or any topic at all).

Use stories of life, love, tragedy, triumph and beauty to tell the story of the human body.  Anthropomorphize freely so that all the humans in the class adopt an interest in the function and discernment of their own bodies. After all, there would be far fewer stories of life, love, tragedy and beauty without them!

3) “Feed off others’ ideas.   When Pixar artists create characters, it’s not a matter of one artist sketching out how he thinks a character should look. They all sit around a table, each drawing ideas, putting them in the middle, and others taking those ideas and riffing off them.  Dozens and dozens of sketches come out from this process, until they find the one that works best. This means everyone’s creativity builds on the creativity of everyone else. This, btw, can help you even if you don’t have a bunch of other geniuses to work with — find others who are creating cool things, and riff off them, and share your riffs.”

Collaboration is a buzz word that can be creatively applied to your class room and to your faculty lounge.  Your classroom can be shaped by input from students…. You just might find that students who have input (within reason and the rules of your institution) are more engaged with the class both in and outside of your notice.  The tenacious vision of engaged participants can be facilitated by asking students for their input on this type of environment.  What do they find helpful and engaging?  Colleagues can certainly join together to share and engender new ideas for activities and methods that impact students.

Talk to your students and your colleagues about what works, what engages, and what they see as an ideal classroom experience.  What are you trying to create and how can you get there?  Students who consider that their input is important and who honestly think about, and share, what they need might be more willing to read before class because they see how that fits within the plan of the class and are interested in the more in-depth learning that can take place when one comes to class prepared.  Despite the fact that there will always be students who seem totally unwilling or uninterested, collaboration might just reach more of the students who at first seem out of reach as well as lessen your role as evil oppressive overlord.

4) “Let go of ego.   Imagine if you’ve put a great sketch into the pile, and you think it’s the one that should be used. But because so many talented artists are throwing ideas into the pile, the fact is that most ideas/sketches won’t be used. They’ll be discarded. If you want your idea to win, you’ll fight for it, but this only hurts the process. Pixar animators have to let go of their egos, and put the best interests of the project first. I think this is true of any creative project.”

I think this is true of any endeavor that involves more than one person, and there are very few of those.  Placing the ideal of a productive, engaging classroom above the personal idea or above any desire to be ‘the best,’ ‘the first,’ ‘the best-liked,’ or ‘the smartest’ helps a department reach the ideal.   Modeling the process of collaboration with colleagues is invaluable to students who will have to face the challenges of changing health care needs and provision, global warming, and an uncertain job market among other problems.  We need problem solvers, and collaboration is the most likely road to solving the problems of the present and the future.

This is also true in the classroom with students.  If a student has a great explanation for a process or idea, ask them to share it with the class.  If you don’t know the answer to a student inquiry, challenge everyone to find it in books, on devices, or for homework.  Don’t be the all-knowing expert… be the well-educated guide.

This lesson included the quote: “When ego is lost, limit is lost.  You become infinite, kind, beautiful.”  – Yogi Bhajan.

5) “Everyone should know the mission well. Some studios outsource their animation work overseas, but then the animators often don’t know what the movie is about, and don’t really care about the final process, because they’re just doing one tiny piece. But at Pixar, everyone involved is pushing forward, trying to create the best movie possible, and they take pride in this mission. That means that everyone is invested in the mission, everyone truly cares about the work they’re producing, and it shows in the final creation.”

This can be applied to education in several ways.  Obviously, it is easier for a student to succeed if he/she knows what you expect of them.  They need to know what will be covered to be fairly evaluated on assessments.  Additionally, if you have a mission for your classroom that is a little more in-depth than, “present information about anatomy & physiology”, then share it with your students.  Would you like for them to learn how to find information that they don’t know?  Would you like for them to become critical thinkers?  Would you like for them to find awe and wonder in the human body?  Would you like for the experience in your classroom to be one that helps them grow as learners, people and future providers of healthcare or any other profession?  Let them know.  They just might be touched to know that you see more in your job than presenting information.  They might also more deeply consider that a learning experience can help them grow in all the aforementioned ways and it might become their goal as well.

In addition, verbalizing these goals makes it easier to include exercises, questions, demonstrations that contribute to those goals in a creative way.  This doesn’t mean that you use all your time on goals that are not strictly linked to the official curriculum, but it might make it easier to see the value in a variety of activities, which may in turn engage more learners and more learning.

6) “Lots of hard work, tiny but amazing results. When Pixar created Brave, deleted scenes that didn’t make the final cut would have made the movie 5 times as long. A ton of little visual jokes didn’t make the movie. That means that hours and hours of creative, brilliant work were thrown out, and only the best of the best of all of this creative process actually was used. That’s a lot of amazing stuff, to get very little. That means what we actually see is of incredible quality.”

Make sure that your assessments reflect your vision and goals as well.  You know you have to guide students through and assess their absorption of the curriculum, but what if those assessments offered some opportunity for students to share their perspective and achievements?  Could a few questions like “Give an example from your own life of osmosis within your body and outside of your body and compare them.” Have a place that would let students know that their deeper understanding is sought and appreciated and show both of you some beautiful results?

#7) “Surround yourself with heroes. When Bernhard was interviewed at Pixar about 6 years ago, it took all day. The list of people interviewing him was a list of his personal heroes. That’s who he works with, the best in the world. How inspiring is that? You’d jump out of bed to get to work each morning, wouldn’t you? Of course, not all of us are that lucky, but we can surround ourselves with the work of our heroes, and use them for inspiration, maybe even reach out and meet one or two of them someday. Shoot for the stars, or at least illuminate your life with their light.”

Perhaps this is not as easy a task for an educator as educators are not necessarily heralded as are people whose names appear in the credits of popular movies, but remembering that there are people who we look up to and admire can also be a reminder to strive to improve what we do.  If there are heroes in your school, seek them out.  Pick their brains.  Go to conferences and meet the folks you admire for their teaching, their research or their writing.  Most people appreciate being admired in a professional and interested way.  You never know there may be folks out there who admire you and would like some tips!  Which leads to the last tip….

#8) “Help those just starting out. Bernhard took the time out of his day to give us a tour, because a teen-age young man is interested in computer animation. That’s exceptional. His reasoning: ” I was where Justin is right now, and it’s nice to pass on what I know today. Passion and dreams are important to keep alive.” How many of us do that?”

This is of course what educators do!  Educators encourage, guide and instill passion in those who come to them for information and instruction.  It is one of the perks of the job to watch passion and interest flower; to see determination lead to success; and to watch people mature into their abilities and their minds.  I thank you for what you do as educators and hope that thinking about creativity as an asset to your process and your classroom helps keep your job fresh, exciting and productive.


Study Tracker – Figure out What Works For You

Tracking study techniques offers you 3 benefits.  The first 2 benefits are the possibility of discovering which study actions are the most beneficial, and whether or not you need to try something new.  If you make note of how you prepared for a test and then look over your techniques right after getting back the test, you can assess your preparation performance.  Hopefully, you will gain insight as to which actions were the most helpful and should be expanded, emphasized or developed, and where a new technique could be helpful.

Lastly, tracking study techniques is like writing down what you eat.  It forces you to consider and be honest about how much time, and the quality of the time that you spent studying.   Remember that being engaged in what you are doing, i.e.
asking questions about what you are reading,
linking what you are reading/studying to things you are interested in,
noticing similarities and differences between facts, ideas and processes within this class,
and similarities and differences between this class and other classes or realms of life,
will help you appreciate the topic, enjoy the topic, remember and be able to utilize the topic in your wonderfully unique and engaged life!

Forms are not necessary for everything, but for many of us, a form to fill out makes it all official and keeps us on track.  So, I offer the Study Tracker… a form to encourage exploration of study techniques and which includes a list of study suggestions to supplement your diet of reading and re-reading texts and class notes.

View or Download the Study Tracker here! (Click on the icon that appears after clicking here)

7 Stages of Creativity

A professor and artist who lost the ability to draw and to speak through traumatic brain injury finds his voice as a proponent of creativity.

In an inspiring and informative 15 minute lecture called, “7 steps of creative thinking: Raphael DiLuzio at TEDxDirigo” explores how the creative process unfolds and how that knowledge can help us nurture the process.  This is a TED talk in Maine.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and TED events are conferences for “ideas worth sharing.”

According to Professor DiLuzio, 7 stages of creativity are described by Murray Gelman, a nobel laureate physicist.

This is my summary of Professor DiLuzio’s presentation of Gelman’s 7 stages of creativity.
I believe these stages can be shared with students, engaged in ourselves and related to the simple process of sharing our crazy ideas, connections and inspirations that can lead to insight, creative connections and deeper learning.

Stage 1: find/ ask/ pose/ realize a question or a problem that needs to be overcome.  Frame a question.  This can be a simple question about what is being learned, or a question that is raised by the learning.

Stage 2: engage in research.  Research is second nature to us – like a baby putting everything in its mouth.  Check out the world / try different things, experience the world and gather info around that question.  Look into your question.   Don’t be afraid to admit that you have questions.

Stage 3: When you stop researching – Enough is enough moment.  Time for the student to stop inputting new info.

Stage 4: Gestation – hold that question. Enter into a state of detachment.  Let it stew.  Keep the question in the back of your mind.  Do something different, think of other things, approach the question through metaphor – what would the question look like if it was a tree?  Visualize the problem as something else – mesh intuition and empiricism.  Operate with fearlessness of imagination like an artist.  DiLuzio says, “Invention is part of our primal being.”

Stage 5: Eureka moment (flash of idea – a song, a connection, how to fix something, how to handle a problem).  It is very important to write Eureka moments down – we do not give them enough importance.  You may just have a Eureka moment about what you are stewing on, or something related…. or something that leads back to your original question.

Stage 6: Process of making – bringing the idea into being – stage of fear, “what will people think?” “I’d rather have eloquent failure than boring success.”  Engage people who can help.  Talk about the elements you don’t think you can handle with those you think can handle that element.

Stage 7: Testing and criticism – share it.  See what other people think.  Bring it into the world.

The stages may come in different order – allow yourself to keep track of the stages – what stage you are in and to acknowledge the process because it may open you up to engaging in the process more frequently and losing some fear about creativity.

Value ideas.  DiLuzio asks us to, “Keep them, make them and share them.”  It may make it easier for your students to value their own ideas and connections and inspirations if you value their ideas, connections and inspirations first.  Encourage creative participation in your class.

Transport Creative Understanding

In another post I talked about having students organize their new knowledge around frameworks of interest.  A corollary of that is for them to find examples of what they are learning about, or when actual examples are not possible, to find symbolic examples of, what they are learning about.

The properties of water and of transport are rife with possibility for this idea.  Water is a huge part of all of our lives and some of its properties are visible if students are paying attention.  Challenge them to find examples of water and oil mixtures / water and soap mixtures and how that is relevant to life and membranes and transport.  Also challenge them to find examples of how water behaves in the world that helps them understand osmosis, capillary action or diffusion.

Futhermore, transport presents many opportunities for comparison.

Challenge students to pick one of the following and compare it to some aspect of one of the forms of transport and explain their comparison.  They can also choose their own example, be it an example of actual transportation of something, or an example of items mixing/ moving amongst each other, or some other comparison that they can explain to a form of transport.

Possible comparisons:

-automobile traffic situations:
highway ramps / parking lots / gated communities

-hallways at school with classrooms on either side:
time between classes / time during classes / opening and closing of doors

– sports:
the ball representing a certain molecule or ion / the players representing different molecules or ions / the entire field as a human body / track and field events where runners change lanes

– How humans transport themselves

It is very important that the student explain their comparison as it is in the comparison – the thought – that they will make new connections… hopefully connections that are of interest because they created them.


Frameworks for Interest

Frameworks for Interest

Just like the absorption and re-deposition of calcium re-shapes a bone even after it is done getting larger, your students’ ideas and knowledge are constantly re-modeled.  It is easier for them to utilize their new knowledge within a framework of what they already know, aligned with their current interests than it is to utilize new knowledge which has been randomly ‘learned’ or ‘placed’ without connection to prior knowledge.  Perhaps many students ‘cram’ their knowledge into a Wormian bone that, un-needed and neglected, is re-absorbed not long after the final exam?

Whatever the details of storage and usage are, connections with prior knowledge and experience will help student performance.  But how to convince them of this and help them apply it?

Providing students with a framework in which they have an interest on which to organize their newfound knowledge might be just the ticket.  In other words, the student can relate what they learn to a topic of interest that will force them to make creative connections that they find interesting.  You can discuss this with them, offer the following suggestions for frameworks (along with any you or they think of), and even offer extra credit for those who present their framework at the end of the semester in writing, graphics, or some other form of presentation.

I suggest the following frameworks:

Suggest that your students relate everything they learn about in A&P to sexual activity.  What is the importance of this knowledge for sexual activity?  How does the organ, process, tissue, system or pathway affect sex?  Does it give ideas for enhancing sexual activity, can it hinder it?  Is there a gender difference?  Why?  Is this related to sex or pregnancy or something else?  (This framework may not be suitable for sharing at the end of the semester!!)

Are there lyrics or songs that you can relate to this topic?  Is there a theme song you would assign for this chapter?  for this organ?  for this process?  What kind of singer or instrumentalist would the pituitary gland, a blood vessel, a white blood cell, the molecule ATP be?  What style of music would a particular A&P topic play?  How does this organ, tissue, process, system or pathway affect the ability to play or to listen to, music?  What is the physiology of attending a concert?

What is the best dressed organ in the human body?  What is the color palette of a particular system?  Are the layers of a particular tissue or organ functional?  Are the layers protective like a coat, and what kind of coat are they like, or do the layers function in some other way that can be related to fashion?  How does this body process affect movement of a model on a runway, or the ability to ‘work’ a piece of clothing?  How does this organ, tissue, process, system or pathway affect body shape and therefore clothing?  What would a tee-shirt worn by the adrenal gland say?

Is there a disease that is plaguing you or a loved one that you would like to know everything about?  Consider everything you learn from the viewpoint of that disease (either as an exercise in acting like the disease agent or process, or as an exercise in understanding how this particular organ or process affects, or is affected by, the disease in question.

Like sex – how does any organ, process, tissue or system affect the performance of any or one particular sport?  What kind of this organ, process, tissue or system would the ideal athlete want?  Can he/she get  or enhance it?  Which sport is this most important to?  Which athletic activity would be most enhanced by optimal functioning of this organ, tissue, system, process or pathway?

How does the organ, tissue, process, system or pathway being studied affect one’s: ability to listen; ability to bite one’s tongue; ability to decrease stress level; ability to help teenager take on more responsibility; ability for teenager to survive the lack of sleep and poor nutrition that often accompanies adolescence; ability for both to survive the stress and immunity challenges.

Any topic is okay because thinking about A&P, even in relation to another topic, is thinking about A&P.  And that’s a good thing.

Professor Says… Anatomical Following

This is a Simon Says type of exercise which, due to the multiple steps and use of anatomical terms, and the final addition of a riddle, gets students thinking and moving.. and moving and thinking… and learning!

The exercise was developed, tested and shared by the faculty of the Health Science Department at Lock Haven University in Lock Haven, PA.  Thanks so much for sharing!!

Give your students the following instructions

1) Put your finger on a spot anterior to your heart, just inferior to your mandible and lateral to your trachea.

Then ask: What should everyone be doing?   (Taking pulse)

2) Put your right hand on your sternum, move it laterally toward your left humerous about 3 inches

Then ask: What might you be doing if there was a flag in the room?  (Pledge of Allegiance)

3) Place the anterior side of your hands together and then move them to a position that is superior to the bone structure containing your hypothalamus

What might you be doing?  (Walk like an Egyptian)

4) With your finger, trace a line beginning at a spot superficial to the cervical vertebrae on their posterior side.  Move along an oblique plane, inferior and lateral to the right, now trace medially and continue laterally to the left about 6 inches, turn and trace superiorly and medially.

What shape have you traced?   (Triangle)

5) Place your hands superficial to your quadriceps, move them distally to the patellar region.  Move both hands medially and continue laterally until they touch the opposing patellar region (repeat)

What are you doing?  (Charlie Brown or Charleston)

6) Place one hand on your clavicle, move it superiorly, posteriorly, inferiorly

What bone are you touching?  (Scapula)

The last 3 do not have answers – maybe your students can come up with some of their own.  Ask them to explain these moves and then form small groups to make up one of their own to share with the class!

7) Place both hands on the gluteal region.  Move them laterally to the hips (name this region) and then superiorly to the axillary region.  Move your hands medially until they are proximal to the sternum.

8) Trace your finger on the mid-saggital plane beginning at the anterior region superficial to your frontal lobe and move inferiorly

9) Trace a frontal plane beginning at your left patella and move superiorly to your otic region.


Transcription Explained with a Gastronomic Connection

Once upon a time, in my earlier life, I was the only white server in a Chinese restaurant run by Hispanics (that didn’t speak English let alone Chinese).  I tell you this because it gives you the foundation of explaining protein synthesis.

Many times students confuse the terms Transduction, Translation, and Transcription.  This story is used to explain Transcription vs. Translation.  We will assume that the customer entering the restaurant is “DNA”.  DNA comes in and wishes to place an order.  DNA sits down and opens the menu (the unwinding which exposes the gene).

I, messenger RNA, come over to take the order.  When DNA tells me what it wants (Chicken with cashews with extra onions), I copy down the order (Transcription).  The act of me writing it down means that I am “Transcribing” DNA’s order from the triplet of information:  (Chicken, cashews, extra onions) to my codon of information: (Cx, nuts, eo).  Both pieces of information mean the same thing, but my information will be interpreted by the computer more directly.

Now when I start to input the information into the computer, it had a language program already installed.  The computer could take the information that I put in and “Translate” it into Spanish (anti-codon).  By changing the language, the Hispanic cook staff (the ribosomes) could interpret what it was the DNA wanted by converting it into the language they understood and therefore create what it was DNA wanted in the first place.

In short, this is a change from a nitrogen based language of mRNA to the amino acid language of a synthesized protein. Bottom line:  it’s all about how the cell communicates.

Jennifer Menon, MA
Assistant Professor of Physiology
Johnson Community College