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The 2000-Meter Row

A Case in Homeostasis

Nathan Strong
Biological Sciences / Chemistry Department
New Hampshire Technical Institute


The physically demanding sport of competitive rowing is the backdrop for this case about homeostasis in which students follow the physiological changes that occur in an athlete competing in a 2000-meter race. The case was developed for use in a second-year anatomy and physiology course. It would also be appropriate in exercise and sports science classes.


  • To relate the functioning of one system with another.
  • To understand homeostasis as continuous process and not as a state.
  • To illustrate cause-and-effect within the human body.


Homeostasis; nervous system; respiratory system; cardiovascular system; digestive system; urinary system; autonomic; muscle; lactic acid; blood glucose; blood pH; stress; rowing; racing

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type Methods




Subject Headings

Physiology Sports Science

Date Posted


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Sara Morgans
Faculty of Science
The Canberra College
Woden, Australia
This case was used as an assessment instrument in a year 12 biology class. It was a very successful way to gauge a deep understanding in students.

Eva Oberdoerster
Department of Biology
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX
The "story" of the case-study was given to the students as part of their last semester exam in a Human Physiology course often taken by our pre-med/vet/dental school students. Students had been told that there would be one question that would integrate concepts over the entire semester (this was greeted with moans and groans). Of the numerous questions that Dr. Strong had listed with the case study, I used seven for the exam. Each question was worth between 1 and 4 points, depending on difficulty and length of answer expected.

Student responses were mixed. I had two Varsity rowers in the class of 35, and also Varsity swimmers. The athletes and their close friends were enthusiastic about the question (very relevant to their lives). Those students who like to memorize instead of learn and apply material were not happy with the question. The entire exam was 1 1/2 hours and included 35 other short answer/matching/multiple choice questions.

Since I return exams to students, future semesters of Human Physiology will have had access to the exam and will have had access to this case study. Next year I plan on using this as a "review" question in the form of a group project. I have not yet decided how to exactly assign this, but will involve setting aside a day of lecture for students to present their answers to two to three of the questions/group. The remainder of the class is expected to agree/disagree with a group. I may ask one group to answer one question completely incorrectly to "test" the remainder of the class to make sure that they are awake/paying attention.