Anatomy & Physiology

Anatomy & Physiology

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Course content was made from Anatomy & Physiology lead faculty, including:
Josephine Wang, co-founder of ScioVirtual, captain of WW-P North Science Olympiad medalist, and top 50 USA Biology Olympiad semi-finalist. Josephine has taught Anatomy & Physiology and Biology Fundamentals at ScioVirtual and is known for her infectious enthusiasm and clear explanations of complex biology topics.
Daphne Hao, molecular biology student at Princeton University and president of WW-P South Science Olympiad. Daphne created the original Anatomy & Physiology curriculum, creating comprehensive and informational content and practice. Daphne is the former ScioVirtual Princeton branch director.
Olivia Tang, top 20 USA Biology Olympiad finalist, captain of WW-P North Science Olympiad, and heavily decorated Science Olympiad medalist. Olivia has taught Anatomy & Physiology at ScioVirtual with Josephine.
Anusha Soni, student immunology researcher from Health Careers High School and ScioVirtual’s San Antonio Branch director. Anusha has taught Brain Bee and Immunology at ScioVirtual and is known for infectious enthusiasm and familiarity with Travis Scott.
Andrew Van Dusen, the WW-P South Science Olympiad president, national medalist, and Top 20 USA Biology Olympiad competitor. Andrew has taught over 100 students at ScioVirtual, including courses from Circuit Lab to Endocrinology to Bio Process Lab and is the Princeton ScioVirtual director.
Jeffrey Xu, senior at Livingston High School. He is the captain of his school’s Science Olympiad and Science Bowl teams, president of its chapter of the Science National Honor Society, and founder of its chapter of the International Youth Neuroscience Association. Jeffrey taught Astronomy, Physics, and Immunology at ScioVirtual and is the ScioVirtual Newark branch director.
Cloris Shi, Science Olympiad national silver medallist from Troy High School. Cloris competes in USA Biology Olympiad and is a published poet!
Krutharth Vaddiyar, Science Olympiad medalist and USA Biology Olympiad semifinalist from WW-P North. He happens to be addicted to gamepigeon word games as well!
Tanush Paradeshi- Science Olympiad medalist and top 10 USA Brain Bee finalist from University High School. In addition, he is quite fond of kiwis and can eat up to 10 a day in a variety of different ways (kiwi sandwiches, kiwi and chips, or just plain kiwis alone).
Megan Kwok- Megan attends schooling in the UK and is currently in Hong Kong for the summer. She participates in British Biology Olympiad and is a International Biology Olympiad Team Finalist for Hong Kong. Her favorite book is the Great Gatsby!
Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) is the study of how the body works. This section talks about a specific example (COVID-19) and then breaks down how to learn A&P in general.

On January 21st, 2020, the New York Times published this article:


The article didn’t even call the disease “COVID-19” or “coronavirus”. Instead, the author just referred to the disease as a “mysterious respiratory infection”.

That’s because most people didn’t even know about the virus. We just knew what it did to our bodies.

Specifically, the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was by an anonymous man who lived near Seattle, Washington.

We don’t know who this mysterious person is, but for this article, let’s make the false claim that the first COVID patient in the U.S. was ScioVirtual Physics Instructor, Arvyn De (see picture on right).

Arvyn recently traveled from Wuhan, China back to his house in Washington. However, when he came back, he was:

  1. Coughing
  2. Had a fever
  3. Began vomiting
First person with COVID in the U.S.
First person with COVID in the U.S.

Clearly, the virus is hurting his body by preventing it from functioning normally. Specifically, the virus is negatively affecting the normal anatomy and physiology of Arvyn.

Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) is simply the study of your body systems (e.g. respiratory, digestive, immune, nervous, cardiovascular, etc.).

Here are the steps to learn the basics of Anatomy & Physiology.

Step 1: Understand the Basic Principles

Principle 0: Anatomy or Physiology?

We often group “Anatomy” and “Physiology” together. However, they are very different.

On one hand, anatomy is the structure of the body. For instance, if you dissect a rat and look at its internal organs, you are studying its anatomy. Another example is “neuroanatomy”, which is the study of the parts of the brain. Learning anatomy primarily tests your ability to memorize structures and sometimes your spatial reasoning.

Sehej teaching neuroanatomy @ ScioVirtual’s
Sehej teaching neuroanatomy @ ScioVirtual’s Advanced Neuroscience course.

On the other hand, physiology is more complicated than just knowing names and locations. Physiology is the actual processes executed by organ structures. You often can’t learn much physiology just through dissecting a body. Rather, physiology usually involves microscopic cellular and tissue processes such as the transmission of electric signals between neurons in the brain.

Learning hack #0: Find a new notebook and manually take notes on a piece of paper as you read information you do not know already. After reading a section, think about what you learned and then rewrite it in your own words without looking. The ability to reword something you just read is an important skill that tests deeper understanding of science.

Principle 1: Cells → Tissues → Organs → Organ Systems

The body is made up of cells that make up tissues that make organs that then make organ systems. Read the Khan Academy article linked below to get an in-depth understanding of what makes anatomical structures.

Read this Khan Academy article.
Learning hack #1: It is an important skill to be able to find good resources on your own. A good resource is anyone that has both the right difficulty level (not too basic and not too complicated) and the right amount of content (not too short and not too long). This Khan Academy article has great length. However, it might be too easy or too hard (depending on your background). So try to find another online resource that explains cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems even better. Determining whether a resource is “good” takes a lot of practice.

Principle 2: Body Organs Promote Homeostasis

One way to think of the function of our body systems is simply to maintain homeostasis, the body’s inclination towards maintaining stable health conditions to keep us alive.

In light of “Learning hack #1”, I will provide three articles in increasing difficulty and length. Choose the one that feels “just right” to you. You can also try to build up to the harder resource by going through them in order. Click the arrow to reveal the resource.

Resource #1 (middle school-level)
Resource #3 (college-level) [Challenging]
Learning hack #2: This hack is extremely important. Never read one source to learn something important. If you really want to understand something deeply, get different perspectives that explain the same concept in different ways with different examples and mediums. For example, Resource #1 is a simple video that can provide you with visuals. This video can better position you to understand the more dense high school and college level texts that follow it.

The importance of synthesizing knowledge

Anatomy & Physiology can get dense with information from over ten different body systems.

How do you keep track of all this information? How do you not forget everything?

The solution is: always remember the bigger picture.

“We have a bunch of body systems, and they’re all interdependent.”

For a good example of the synthesis that you should be doing after you read a new section, attempt the question below before viewing the answer (by clicking the arrow).

How does “Principle 1” and “Principle 2” relate to “Principle 0”s difference between “anatomy” and “physiology”?

Principle 0 states that anatomy is about structure and physiology is about function. Principle 1 is mainly about anatomy and Principle 2 is mainly about physiology.

Step 2: Applying the Principles

The more fun part about A&P is to now apply general A&P principles to specific body systems and health conditions.

Let’s go back to Arvyn and his coughing.

Medical researchers investigated why patients like Arvyn were coughing when they got the “corona.”

What they found was interesting…

  1. The virus enters through the nose or mouth of the victim.
  2. The virus invade the epithelial cells that line the airway.
  3. The invasion causes localized inflammation.
  4. This inflammation results in the death of cells through a process called pyroptosis.
Coronavirus in the respiratory system (Source:
Coronavirus in the respiratory system (Source: The Economic Times).

The inflammation irritates Arvyn’s airway, resulting him in coughing.

How does COVID-19’s mechanism of infecting Arvyn demonstrate the A&P principles above?

Principle 1

The virus enters through the nose and mouth (two organs), invades the epithelial cells (cells) of the airway (tissue). This affects the immune system (organ system).

Principle 2

The invasion of cells by the virus causes a disruption in homeostasis. Thus, the immune system functions to remove the virus through numerous complicated methods, including inflammation and pyroptosis. (Note: this immune response causes both coughing and fever which is why those two symptoms are common when you are sick.)

Now You Are Ready to Learn the Specifics

If you just want a general sense of Anatomy principles, skip this step.

Now that you have learned the basics of A&P, you can apply these principles to understand specific body systems. Select a body system that fascinates you below to explore more.

You can get extremely deep into some of these topics. For instance, here is a public Anatomy & Physiology cheat sheet for the muscular, skeletal, and integumentary systems to the right.

Don’t be too intimidated at first. Most of the content will make sense after a few weeks of getting familiar to the body systems!

Before we get started… some general helpful links

Me! -

Daphne (first ScioCamp A&P class!)-

Crash Course -

Kurzgesagt -

Khan Academy -

Khan Academy but its bio and chem -

Medic Tutorials -

Dancing Scientist -

Digestive system

Learn about the digestive system, and how the body is able to transform the food we eat into molecules essential for our body to function.

Respiratory system

Learn about the respiratory system, and how our system uses the air around us to power life.

Immune system

Learn about the immune system, and how the body is able to fight back against pathogens.



Skeletal system

Explore the structure and function of our bones, a diverse group of organs that support the structure of our entire body.

Introduction to the skeletal system (ScioVirtual Level I)

Fun and fast-paced introduction to the skeletal system. Watch both parts on YouTube if you find this part helpful.

Deeper look at the skeletal system (ScioVirtual Level II)



Integumentary system

The integumentary system describes the skin, hair, nails, and corresponding sensory receptors.

Introduction to the Integumentary System (guided notes from class)

Muscular system





Collective Escape Room for Nervous, Endocrine, and Sensory system