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Students generally approach topics in physiology as a series of unrelated phenomena that share few underlying principles. However, if students recognized that the same underlying principles can be used to explain many physiological phenomena, they may gain a more unified understanding of physiological systems. To address this concern, we developed a simple, inexpensive, and easy to build model to demonstrate the underlying principles regarding Starling's Law of the Heart as well as lung and arterial elastic recoil. A model was chosen because models significantly enhance student understanding. Working with models also encourages research-oriented learning and helps our students understand complex ideas. Students are drawn into discussion by the power of learning that is associated with manipulating and thinking about objects. Recognizing that the same underlying principles can be used to explain many physiological phenomena may help students gain a more complete understanding of physiological systems.
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