LifeLines OnLine
2002 Summer Faculty Workshop
The Case: Racing Rosie

Let's just say that Rosie is a very active child.  You know the kind; always asking questions, always in motion, always getting into something.  The other day at our town common I was watching her play on the playground.  That kid can move!  She was running around, playing tag, having a great time.  She blasted over to me, giggling and gasping.  

"Hey Joe!  Why am I breathing so hard?  I keep running and running and the faster I run the harder I breath!  Why?  I can't even stop it!  Every time I try to hold my breath I can't!  Why?"

Joe started to scratch his head and said.........


Case Author: Beth Erviti
Greenfield Community College

Case Analysis

Issues that students are likely to examine during this case:

  • respiratory system anatomy

  • physiological control of respiration

  • cellular respiration

  • cardiovascular gas transport

Students begin their examination by completing a list of these objectives:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals

Note:  This case was initially designed for students who have considered the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and are facing cell metabolism for the first time.  It is designed to help underscore the connection between exercise (increased cell metabolism) and respiratory change.  It could be modified to include cardiovascular dynamics as well.


  • review respiratory anatomy and physiology
  • consider cellular respiration
  • make a connection between increased cellular activity and effects on organism (specifically on respiration)
  • use model to investigate the influence of blood gases on respiration rate

Investigations and Activities

In the Lab:

Work in groups of 3-4, potentially have access to computers and modeling software.

Work on background research, using texts, models, manuals to identify the components of cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. 

Use textbooks and cellular respiration links to consider the dynamics of oxygen/ATP/CO2 formation.  Using interactive websites/software, try resting cells vs. exercising muscle cells.  (or, substitute field work or research if the software is unavailable to you)

Use respiratory system software (e.g.: ADAMŪ interactive, SimBioSys Clinics) that demonstrate the effects of blood gases on respiration rate.  (or, substitute field work or research if the software is unavailable to you)

Generate charts, graphs, other data relevant to the modeling output.

In the field:

Visit local laboratory (hospital, university, fitness center) during VO2 testing.

Further research:

Find a condition or disease or pathology that affects the relevant body systems and relate this condition to normal vs. exercising conditions.



Standard Anatomy and Physiology textbook

Websites for text and general cardio-respiratory system knowledge:

Good websites for cardio-respiratory animations/tutorials:
(this one is very advanced, but has tons of info)

Good websites for cellular respiration:
(this site has tons of stuff, including links.  It may seem overwhelming to some students, but it goes into each step with different diagrams and even animations.) 
(here you'll find an entire study guide will fill-ins and diagram fill-ins.  No answers, but hey.....)

Student Products

For Laboratory Component:

  • Create a systems diagram (flowchart) indicating the relationship of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous components involved in control of respiration.  

  • Create graphic output from software applications (ADAMŪ Interactive, SimBioSys ClinicŪ) demo:

  • Produce an outline of a simple explanation to Rosie that will answer her question, involving the body systems and cellular dynamics.

For Field Component:

  • Produce a report exploring the use of VO2 measurements as fitness indicators.

For Further Research:

  • Write a 500 word paper on the respiratory condition/pathology.

  • Give a short talk to the classroom about the respiratory condition.

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

           Flowchart/systems diagram (clearly labeled, inclusive, accessible information) 40%

           Software output (or field work or research paper) 20%

           Rosie's explanation (inclusive, correct, readable for general audience)  40%


Identify the specifics for using the cases in your classes.

Course name:
 Anatomy and Physiology
Likely sequence in syllabus:
 Cellular respiration, respiratory physiology
Time during term:
 1 lab, associated lecture, independent/group  work
 Lab, primarily
Students in course:
 Allied health students, general audience
Collaborative elements:
 Group work (small groups)



I would have been hopeless lost with this case if not for the support of the LifeLines captains and my Case Colleagues at this workshop.  Special thanks to Amanda Everse and Joe Russin for helping with the navigation, to Linda Weinland for hunting up some great websites, and to Margaret Waterman for overall tweaking.   

Photo/art credits:

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