Human Biology


Children are naturally curious about their bodies. Examining the biological principles underlying familiar experiences is a great way to demonstrate the importance of science in our lives. For some students, an interest in human physiology may be the beginning of a career in healthcare.

This course begins with cells and tissues, then visits the organ systems such as the digestive system and the circulatory system. Students will learn about nutrition, why we need oxygen, how muscles contract, and where the brain stores a memory.

One of the main themes of this course is homeostasis. Although our external environment is constantly changing, the body’s internal environment must be kept in a delicate balance. Slipping out of balance inevitably results in disease.

A second theme of this course is the choices we make—choices that affect our health and wellness, such as eating a good diet, getting plenty of exercise, and not smoking.

Live Classes: Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, from the week of January 9th to the week of May 12th

Assignments: Every Wednesday, there will be a list of assignments and activities for the next week posted in the online classroom. These will include selected readings and fun videos or websites. Hands-on activities are always an important part of science. Students will conduct simple laboratory experiments using items commonly available in the kitchen. There will be two or three dissections. A three-page paper on the student’s choice of topics pertaining to human biology is the capstone of the class.

Student Support: The instructor is available by email.

Feedback/Assessment: Feedback will be provided on written assignments.

Materials/Supplies: The textbook will be Human Biology by Sylvia Mader. This is the dominant text in human biology, but recent editions have ballooned into pricey 700-page tomes. Therefore, students are encourage to buy the eleventh edition, which is available used on Amazon for less than $10.

Students will conduct experiments using basic kitchen materials such as eggs, vinegar, cooking oil, or Jell-O and some glass jars (Mason jars or empty mayonnaise, mustard, or pickles jars) for kitchen chemistry. You probably have most of these items already.

Cow eyes and pig hearts for dissection can be purchased online at ($3.25 for eyes, $9 for hearts). Sheep brains (dura mater intact) are $18.50. Carolina offers specimens in “perfect solution,” a nontoxic alternative to formaldehyde. Most students love dissections, but squeamish children can just watch the video instead. Buy whatever you’re comfortable with.

Prerequisites: The only prerequisite is curiosity! This is an introductory course, and students are not expected to have any background in biology or chemistry, but they should be able to read and engage with scientific material and participate in course activities.


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