Human Anatomy and Physiology

This six-week online course begins with an explanation of the nature of matter and a review of the principles of chemistry that are important to human physiology. We'll place an emphasis on the organization of the human body and the differences between nonliving matter and living organisms. We'll also cover cell anatomy and physiology because all life processes are ultimately carried out at the cellular level. You'll also learn principles of genetics and gain an understanding of how traits are passed from one generation to the next.

After we've established this foundation, we'll survey the anatomy and physiology of each of our 11 organ systems. You'll learn how our nervous system allows us to receive, process, and interpret sensation and send messages to our muscles and glands. We'll cover the skeletal and muscular systems, learning how they make movement possible, and also about some of their little-known but equally essential functions.

This course explains how the circulatory and respiratory systems work together to provide our bodies with the oxygen our tissues need, and how they work together with the skin and kidneys to rid our bodies of wastes. You'll learn how our bodies fight off diseases, and how our digestive system converts the food we eat into energy and the tissues of our bodies. We'll also spend time on the endocrine system, which supplies the hormones we need for our survival, and the reproductive system, that group of organs that allows life to be passed on to another generation.

We'll also discuss functions of the different organ systems that you'll probably find surprising. In addition, each lesson includes information about specific disorders that sometimes happen to our bodies, and we'll also talk about some recent advances in medicine. By the end of this course, you'll have a greater appreciation and understanding of the marvelous complexity of the human body!

To enroll in this course, click the Enroll Now button below:


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All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have to be present when the lesson is released, but you must complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

A new section of each course starts on the second or third Wednesday of each month. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

Week One
Wednesday - Lesson 01
Our first lesson will introduce you to the fascinating subject of human anatomy and physiology. Since chemical reactions drive all of our bodies' functions, we'll start by reviewing some basic chemistry. Then we'll discuss how the human body is organized and the four main types of molecules it contains. We'll even touch on a little history because humans used to have some pretty funny ideas about living organisms. Later, you'll learn why a living human being is so different from one who's died. Finally, we'll discuss homeostasis—that drive we have to keep many different variables (like temperature and blood pressure) within a narrow range. By the time you're done with this lesson, you'll be ready to learn more about the structure and function of our bodies.
Friday - Lesson 02
The smallest living unit of the body is the cell, and it's so amazing, it deserves a lesson of its own. Even though almost all cells are microscopic, they're jam-packed with many different kinds of organelles and surrounded by complex membranes. I think you'll be amazed at their complexity as we discuss their different functions. We'll also talk about how cells reproduce, and we'll finish up with a discussion on cancer—which is cell reproduction gone amok.
Week Two
Wednesday - Lesson 03
In this lesson, we'll tackle the subject of heredity. It's probably the most technical of all the lessons because we'll be exploring genetics. You'll learn how genes determine your physical and mental characteristics, and how your parents' genetic material determine these traits. You'll learn the important differences between reproductive cells and all of the other cells in the body. Then we'll spend some time talking about a man who lived in the 1800's—Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics—because his insights paved the way for our modern understanding of heredity. After that, we'll discuss some different genetic disorders as you learn about specific mutations in the genetic code that can cause problems.
Friday - Lesson 04
We'll move on to the organ systems in today's lesson. We'll start with the one I find most interesting—the nervous system. You'll learn how it's organized, its different jobs, and the structures that make thinking, feeling, and moving possible. You'll also learn how the nervous system works when we think we're in danger or we've suddenly been affected by physical pain. We'll use our knowledge about chemistry in this chapter, too, as we talk about how nervous impulses are transmitted. Finally, we'll talk about some disorders of the nervous system—what causes them and their effects.
Week Three
Wednesday - Lesson 05
Our bones have several functions, and some aren't so obvious. For example, did you know that red blood cells are made in your bones? Or that bones store minerals that are essential for the function of your nerves and muscles? In today's lesson on the skeletal system, we'll explore the structure and function of bones, and then we'll talk about different types of joints and the amazing structure of your spinal column. You'll learn about some common disorders of this system and what you can do to keep your bones strong.
Friday - Lesson 06
Like the skeletal system, the muscular system is crucial for movement, but it has other functions, too. We'll discuss them in detail in today's lesson. Muscles are also a lot more complicated than they appear, so we'll spend some time talking about both the structures that we can see and the structures that we can't see without a microscope. We'll go over some of the specific muscles in the body and how they work together to perform specific movements. You'll also learn why even simple movements involve chemical reactions and a close coordination between this system and the nervous system. In the last chapter, we'll look at several common injuries to different parts of the muscular system.
Week Four
Wednesday - Lesson 07
We'll focus on the respiratory system in this lesson. As you're probably aware, it's the group of organs that allow you to get that crucial substance—oxygen—to all the cells in our body. But your respiratory system has some other functions that we'll touch on in this lesson. You'll learn about the anatomy of your respiratory organs and which muscles are crucial for breathing. You'll also become aware of the differences between ventilation, external respiration, internal respiration, and cellular respiration. And we'll talk about some illnesses that could affect your respiratory system, compromising your ability to breathe.
Friday - Lesson 08
There's so much to learn about the circulatory system! In this lesson, we'll explore the composition of blood, the various blood cells, and the different kinds of blood vessels in your body. Of course, the heart is a crucial part of the circulatory system, so we'll talk about its chambers, valves, coronary vessels, and electrical system. You'll learn how blood travels around the body and its important functions. We'll spend some time on two of the most common health problems people experience—high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. You'll finish this lesson knowing the importance of taking care of this organ system.
Week Five
Wednesday - Lesson 09
In today's very interesting lesson, you'll learn all about the disease-fighting ability of your body. Did you know that your body is constantly bombarded with germs that want to make you sick? We'll talk about that in this lesson, as well as some of the many ways your body fights back to keep you well. The human body also has a system of vessels (similar to blood vessels) called the lymphatic system. We'll talk about its disease-fighting role as well as some of its other functions. You'll learn about some of the other organs in your body that are involved in the battle against disease. At the end of this lesson, we'll talk about different ways the body's disease-fighting ability can be compromised and why sometimes the body turns on its own cells.
Friday - Lesson 10
Today we'll take a close look at two different organ systems—the integumentary system (the skin) and the urinary system. Both of these systems work to get rid of waste products that would kill you if they were allowed to build up in your body. You'll learn, too, how important these two systems are in maintaining homeostasis. We'll spend quite a bit of time on the structure of these two systems. People are often surprised to learn how complex even the skin can be. And the structures of the urinary system, particularly the kidneys, are quite amazing. At the end of this lesson, you'll learn about kidney failure and the challenges of dialysis and kidney transplantation.
Week Six
Wednesday - Lesson 11
You'll never think about food the same way again after this lesson on the digestive system! Just writing about it made me want to be a bit more careful about what I eat. You'll learn about all the different structures involved with converting food into the chemicals our bodies need to grow, repair tissues, and carry on all the functions of life. We'll also discuss the role of the three main types of foods and the importance of many different vitamins and minerals. When you finish this lesson, you'll understand the value of eating a variety of foods and how good food choices will enhance your health. We'll spend some time discussing two common digestive disorders, and then we'll talk about one of the most common kinds of cancer—colon cancer.
Friday - Lesson 12
We'll end this course with a discussion about the endocrine and reproductive systems. You'll learn how the endocrine and nervous systems work together to regulate all of your body's functions. We'll discuss some specific endocrine glands, the hormones they produce, and how they influence each other. Homeostasis again becomes something important to talk about because of the crucial role of the endocrine system. We'll also cover both the female and male reproductive systems. You'll learn about their anatomy and how the endocrine system affects their organs, making reproduction possible. We'll end this chapter with a discussion about two fairly common disorders—diabetes and endometriosis.

To enroll in this course, click the Enroll Now button below:

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