Incredible Elbow (Joints)

lyrics by Ms. T’s kids, with help from Mr. G
may be sung to the tune of Back in Black by Johnson and Young (ACDC)

Joints will flex when you want ‘em to bend
To get straight, they got to extend
And I’m looking at a cookie sitting on a plate
I want to eat it, man that would be great
Now I’m picking up a cookie in my hand
But that’s not enough for me to eat it, man!
I got to bend my arm just to reach my mouth
The elbow joint is what it’s all about

(chorus) My connective tissues, muscles and bones
Work together in the joint zone
Different organs in one system
To make me move, gonna make me move

Biceps and triceps originate
In the scapula, it’s also called the shoulder blade
They insert into the ulna and the radius
And in between they’re sliding past the humerus
Contract the biceps, make the elbow flex
To extend, contract the triceps
When I use my elbow every time I feed
The bi’s and tri’s are the muscles I need

(repeat chorus)

Bones and muscles each do their part
But they got to be connected or they’ll fall apart
I got ligaments around every joint
So they never bend past the breaking point
Got to cushion my joints and let ’em slide
That’s why they got cartilage on the inside
And muscles are attached to bones by tendons
Connective tissues keep my elbow bendin’

(repeat chorus)

Now flex! Extend! (Do this with elbow)
And flex! Extend! …and rest.


Ms. Therkildsen's class in Cupertino was doing a theme unit on bones and muscles, so the various groups of our songwriting residency focused on different aspects of the musculoskeletal system. One group chose to focus on joints, which is a pretty complex topic; so we zeroed in on the elbow as the simplest of the large joints and researched in detail how the muscles, bones, and connective tissues work together to make the elbow flex and extend.

I should have known better than to agree to set their lyrics to a tune by ACDC, as Angus Young is a freaking genius on guitar whereas I am not. It took months for me to learn how to play the guitar part even halfway correctly! But hey, if you don't let your reach exceed your grasp once in a while you aren't really growing.

Here are some academic content standards from the Next Generation Science Standards addressed by this song:

First Grade
LS1.A: Structure and Function. All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (1-LS1-1)

Fourth Grade
Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Middle School
Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of
groups of cells.

Crosscutting Concepts, Engineering
-The shape and stability of structures of natural and designed objects are related to their function(s).
-A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.

Here are some questions worth discussing:
-What do joints do for your body, and why are they important?
-What are the main components of a joint? (bones, muscles, connective tissues)
-What are some other important joints in your body?
-How can we take care of our joints so they keep working properly? (nutrition, exercise, stretching, rest)
-Name some machines that work like an elbow, and compare how they work to the way your elbow works.
-Suppose someone lost their arm in an accident. Could you design and build an artificial arm with a working elbow?

Our gratitude to the Louis and Harold Price Foundation for sponsoring this residency! For more information on how you can do a songwriting residency with your kids, click here!