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Laboratory Exercise Using ‘‘Virtual Rats’’ To Teach Endocrine Physiology

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Description Development of a dry laboratory using virtual rats
Type of Resource Journal Article/Issue, Laboratory or Hands-On Activity, Teaching Strategies & Guidelines
Format Web Page - HTML
Technical Note Adobe Acrobat
Cynthia Odenweller, Northeastern Ohio Universities
Christopher Hsu, Northeastern Ohio Universities
Eilynn Sipe, Northeastern Ohio Universities
J. Paul Layshock, Northeastern Ohio Universities
Sandhia Varyani, Northeastern Ohio Universities
Rebecca Rosian, Northeastern Ohio Universities
Stephen DiCarlo, Wayne State Univ Sch Med
Development Date December 1, 1997
Grade/Age Levels Undergraduate upper division (Grades 15-16)
Professional (degree program)
Medical Objectives
in Physiology
General principles, Pituitary gland - anterior
Learning Time 4-6 hours
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed By Journal Board
Review Date Reviewed at time of publication
Suggested Use

We do this in undergraduate Human Physiology and it's very useful. Make *SURE* instructors read through all of the material and the key before teaching, because there are a few suprises in there. Students love it if they have a good guide. 

Melaney Farr, Salt Lake Community College

Excellent resource and very detailed.  This will be great to use in the classroom to help students with critical thinking.

Kathy Carter, University of Louisville

This resource looks awesome.  I have been looking for laboratory types of activities for my lecture based courses.  I cant wait to use it this Fall.

Adrienne Bratcher, University of Louisville

I have used this "paper lab" several times with excellent results in undergraduate Anatomy & Physiology II (mainly nursing and pre-health students).  It really helps students learn about negative feedback regulation of endocrine glands and the effects of various hormones (including releasing hormones and stimulating hormones).  The activity is challenging but not excessively difficult, and generates a lot of good questions from the students.  


Kelly Sjerven, Rainy River Community College

I love this activity.  It is definitely not EASY for my pre-nursing students, but it is really great to watch them figure out how to figure it out!  Excellent addition to my flipped class...

Wendy Riggs, College of the Redwoods

Very detailed and thorough problem solving activity to help students understand and apply the interactions of the endocrine system.


Sometimes it is not possible to use live animals in laboratory teaching; plus, it is not always possible to give a large class access to computers to do virtual labs. This problem-based learning strategy using "paper rats" to teach students how to hypothosize about endocrine system malfunction. The laboratory activity is applicable to A&P and physiology teaching and is one model of problem-based learning.

Brian Shmaefsky, Lone Star College - Kingwood

I used this activity in a small class of pre-nursing students' anatomy and physiology class. I used it after the lecture on the endocrine system. However, I had not covered reproductive system yet, and that required additional explanations. I divided students in groups and assigned them one "rat" each. They figured out rather quickly which was which. I recommend review endocrine at a slower pace before doing this exercise, and be sure students are familiar with the male reproductive system. 

Ana Maria Barral, National University

I use this exercise with my 1st year nursing students in my physiology class. It is a very effective way to get them to think of the 'big picture' and how the hormones work together. Great resource... thanks for sharing!
Sarah Rigley MacDonald, University of New Brunswick


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