Glossary

Abrasive

Causing damage or wear by rubbing, grinding or scraping.

Aerodynamics

The study of the properties of moving air and the interaction between the air and solid bodies moving through it.

Airflow

The flow of air moving through or past something, like an airplane or car.

Allergen

Something that triggers an allergy.

Anaphylaxis

A type of allergic reaction whereby the immune system responds to environmental substances aggressively. Within minutes of exposure to the allergen, there can be rapid airway constriction, a skin reaction and heart rhythms become altered. In very severe cases, it can lead to complete obstruction of the airways and death.

Anatomy

The study of the structure of living things.

Anomalous results

Odd results - those which are not in keeping with the rest of the results or which do not follow the trend. They can make the results unreliable.

Antagonistic pairs

Pairs of muscles that create movement when one (the prime mover) contracts and the other (the antagonist) relaxes. Examples of antagonistic pairs working are the quadriceps and hamstrings in the leg and the biceps and triceps in the arm.

Antibiotics

Substances that destroy or stop the growth of infectious micro-organisms.

Antibodies

Proteins present and produced in the blood in response to an invading substance, such as a bacterium. The antibodies weaken or destroy the invader, therefore attempting to fight infection: this is known as an immune response.

Antiretroviral drugs

Medications used for the treatment of infection by retroviruses, primarily HIV.

Artery

A tubular blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart to all parts of the body.

ASIMO the humanoid robot

A humanoid robot designed and developed by Honda. ASIMO is an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.

Average

A number worked out by adding several quantities together and dividing the total by the number of quantities.

Bacteria

Single-celled micro-organisms that can exist as independent organisms or parasites. Some are harmful and some are beneficial to humans.

Bacterial infection(s)

An infection caused by bacteria: the growth of many disease-causing bacteria can often be stopped using antibiotics.

Bacterium

Singular of bacteria.

Balanced diet

A diet that contains the right amounts of all the necessary nutrients required for healthy growth and activity.

Bias

An attitude that always favours one way of feeling or acting over any other.

Blood pressure

A measurement of the force that the circulating blood pumped by the heart exerts on the walls of the arteries. Blood is under pressure in the arteries so that it reaches all parts of the body. This measurement is divided into systolic (pressure exerted during contraction of the ventricles of the heart) and diastolic (pressure exerted during the relaxation phase).

Blood vessels

Elastic tubular channels, such as arteries, veins, or capillaries, through which the blood circulates.

Body composition

A term that is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone and muscle in human bodies.

Body mass

A measurement of the relative percentages of fat and muscle mass in the human body, in which mass in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared. The result is used as an index of obesity.

Body systems

A group of bodily organs that have similar structures or work together to perform some function, such as the digestive system, nervous system and respiratory system.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are foods which give you energy. They are called carbohydrates because they are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The two main forms of carbohydrates are sugars and starches, which are found in foods such as grains, rice, breads, cereals and starchy vegetables. The body breaks down carbohydrates to provide your body with heat and energy.

Carbon dioxide

A colourless gas that is produced when people and animals breathe out or when certain fuels are burned. It is used by plants for energy through the process of photosynthesis. Although it only makes up about 0.03 % of air, plants and animals depend on it for life. Its chemical formula is CO2.

Carbon fibre

Carbon fibre is an extremely strong, yet light, material. It is actually five times as strong as steel and twice as stiff but weighs a lot less. Because of this, engineers love to use it. It is made of very thin strands of carbon and is actually thinner than human hair. It is woven together to use in things like aircraft construction.

Cardio-respiratory system

The cardio-respiratory system is made up of the heart and blood vessels working together with the lungs and airways. Essentially, the respiratory and cardiovascular systems are working together to carry oxygen to the muscles and organs of the body, and remove waste products, including carbon dioxide from the body.

Cardiovascular fitness

The ability to exercise the whole body for long periods of time. More specifically, it refers to the ability of your heart, lungs and organs to consume, transport and use oxygen. Regular exercise allows you to improve your cardiovascular fitness as your body becomes more efficient at pumping blood and using the oxygen.

Cavities

When a tooth decays or breaks down, it can cause a cavity, or hole, which can grow over time. Cavities are caused by acid made by bacteria in plaque that can cling to the teeth.

Cell membrane

The thin membrane around the cytoplasm of a cell that controls the passage of substances in and out of the cell.

Cell respiration

The process whereby cells break up sugars into a form that it can use as energy. A series of complicated chemical process take place which allow the living cell to produce energy through the oxidation of organic substances.

Cell wall

Found only in plant cells, certain fungi, bacteria and fungi the cell wall provides the cell with additional strength. Cell walls are thick walls built around the cell. These walls are made from cellulose.

Chlorhexidine

An antiseptic compound used in substances such as skin cleansers and mouthwashes.

Chromosomes

The rod-shaped structures of cellular organisms that contain DNA.

Cognition

The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses.

Cognitive function

An intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.

Combustion

The act or process of burning or oxidation which may be accompanied by light and heat. Oxygen itself does not burn, but it supports combustion.

Compression garments

Pieces of clothing, such as socks, underwear, sleeves, etc., that provide support that is especially useful for people who have to stand for long periods, or who have poor circulation. In sports, compression garments are meant to improve performance and speed up recovery.

Contracting

To reduce in size by drawing together, shortening.

Control variable/Control

A variable that is held constant in order to assess or clarify the relationship between two other variables.

Cystic Fibrosis

A genetic disorder that affects how the lungs and digestive system works.

Cytoplasm

The substance contained within the cell and in which all cellular structures exist.

Deficiency

A lack or shortage of something. In the body, this may be a vitamin or mineral.

Degrees (°)

Usually denoted by the symbol °, the degree symbol is a measurement of plane angle. One degree is 1⁄360 of the circumference of a circle.  

Dehydrated

When your body loses more fluid than you take in. When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way that it functions.

Dependent variable

A dependent variable is what you measure in a scientific experiment and what is affected in the experiment. It responds to the independent variable because it ‘depends’ on it. In a fruit growth experiment, a dependent variable may be number of strawberries.

Diagnosis

The identification of the nature of an illness or other problem usually done by examination of the symptoms.

Diameter

A straight line measurement passing from side to side through the centre of a body or figure, especially a circle or sphere.

Diastolic BP

In a blood pressure reading, the diastolic pressure is typically the second number recorded. It refers to the minimum arterial pressure during relaxation and dilatation of the ventricles of the heart when the ventricles fill with blood.

Diffuse(s)

To intermingle and spread out with another substance by movement.

Digestion

The process by which food is converted into substances that can be absorbed and used by a living organism. 

Digestive system

The system of organs responsible for getting food into and out of the body and for processing food to keep the body healthy. The digestive system begins with the mouth and extends through the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, ending with the rectum and anus.

Dimensions

Measurements of something such as length, breadth, depth, or height.

DNA

DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is in every cell of every living thing. DNA is found in structures of the cell called chromosomes. It is also the material that carries information about how a living thing will look and function – in sections of the DNA called genes.

Downforce

A force, produced by a combination of air resistance and gravity that acts on a moving vehicle, having the effect of pressing it down towards the ground and giving it increased stability.

Durability

The ability to withstand wear, pressure, or damage.

Dynamometer

An instrument for measuring mechanical force or for measuring mechanical power (as of an engine).

Edible

Something that can be eaten.

Elasticity

The ability of an object or material to resume its normal shape after being stretched or compressed; stretchiness.

Electromagnetic force

This fundamental force is associated with electric and magnetic fields. It is responsible for atomic structure, chemical reactions, the attractive and repulsive forces associated with electrical charge and magnetism, and all other electromagnetic phenomena.

Electronic blood pressure monitor

Normally has an internal pump which inflates the cuff. The inflation of the cuff is monitored electronically for pulse and pressure. The machine will give an indication of blood pressure.

Electrons

A particle found in all atoms with a charge of negative electricity. 

Endurance athletes

Sportspeople who keep up a high level of effort for hours, like marathon runners or Tour de France cyclists.

Energy

In biology, energy is often stored by cells in biomolecules, like carbohydrates (sugars) and liquids. The energy is released when these molecules have been oxidized during cellular respiration.

Environmental chamber

An enclosure used to test the effects of specified environmental conditions on athletes, biological items, industrial products, materials, and electronic devices and components.

Enzyme

A chemical that hastens a chemical reaction without undergoing any change itself.

Exertion

Physical or mental effort.

Explorers

People who explore new or unfamiliar areas.

Extreme exploration

Expeditions to harsh environments, like the South Pole or underground caves.

Fatigue

Physical or mental weariness resulting from exertion.

Flatulence

The accumulation of gas in the alimentary canal.

Flex

To bend (a joint).

Force

Strength or power exerted upon an object.

Force gauge (spring balance)

An instrument which measures the force exerted on an object.

Forearm

The part of the arm from the elbow to the wrist.

Friction

The resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.

Fungi

Fungi are not plants or animals: in fact they have their own kingdom. They include micro-organisms such as yeasts and moulds, as well as mushrooms. They live by decomposing and absorbing the organic matter which they grow in.

Galactose

One of the two simple sugars, together with glucose, which makes up the protein lactose, found in milk.

Gel

A jelly-like substance, frequently used in cosmetic or medicinal products.

Gene

A part of a cell’s DNA that controls and influences our appearance and behaviour. It is also described as a ‘unit of heredity’.

Glands

An organ in the human or animal body which secretes particular chemical substances for use in the body or for discharge into the surroundings.

Glucose

A simple sugar which is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates.

Grain

A small, hard seed, especially the seed of a food plant such as wheat, corn, rye, oats, rice or millet.

Haemophilia

Haemophilia is a disease that stops blood from clotting properly, so often, a person who has it bleeds more than someone without Haemophilia.

Hand hygiene

Any method that destroys micro-organisms from the hands. The most effective method is thought to be efficient hand-washing.

Headwind

A wind blowing directly against the course of a moving object, such as an aircraft, bird or runner.

Heart attack

Any sudden instance of the blood supply to the heart muscle itself becoming inadequate, resulting in heart muscle damage; especially coronary thrombosis.

HIV/AIDS

HIV is a type of virus called a retrovirus. It stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It weakens your immune system so your body cannot get rid of it as it would other viruses and it stays in a person’s body for life. HIV can attack part of the human immune system in some people and lead to AIDS (the final stage of HIV infection). However, this does not happen in every case, and with proper antiretroviral therapy given before HIV has a chance to advance, the level of HIV can be kept low, allowing people diagnosed with HIV to have a nearly normal life expectancy.

Horizontal force

A push or pull in a direction parallel to the ground.

Human anatomy

Primarily the scientific study of the structure of the human body.

Hypertension

Occurs when blood is forced through the arteries at an increased pressure.

Immune system

The immune system is made up of special cells, proteins and organs that combine to create the body’s defence against infectious disease. Through something called the immune response, invading organisms are attacked so that the body can protect itself.

Independent variable

A variable you can control and change during an experiment. For example, in a fruit growth experiment, independent variables may be temperature and amount of water.

Infectious diseases

Diseases caused by organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites that enter the body. Many organisms live in and on our bodies and they are normally harmless or even helpful. However, under certain conditions, some organisms may cause disease. Some infectious diseases can be passed, directly or indirectly, from person to person.

Insoluble

Something that cannot be dissolved.

Internal parasites

Parasites that live often in the intestinal wall of humans and animals. They cause sickness to their host via an infection.

Joint

The place at which two things, or separate parts of one thing, are joined or united, either rigidly or in such a way as to allow motion.

Kinetic energy

The energy that an object possesses due to its motion.

Limb

A jointed part of the body like an arm or leg.

Livestock production

When animals such as cattle are raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food.

Macronutrients

Any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat and the macrominerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium and potassium).

Malnourished

To suffer from malnutrition

Malnutrition

The condition that develops when the body doesn’t obtain the right amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it requires to function normally.

Manufacturing processes

The transformation of raw materials into finished products, usually on a large scale.

Mean

The mean is the average of the numbers. To calculate it just add up all the numbers then divide by how many numbers there are.

Mental attitude

A state of mind which involves beliefs and feelings, the outcome of which allows people to behave in certain ways.

Methane

A greenhouse gas that is produced through animal digestion, decomposing waste and coal production.

Method

A systematic and logical procedure for accomplishing something, such as carrying out an experiment.

Metric ruler

A ruler with measurements in the metric system showing millimetres (mm), centimetres (cm) and metres (m).

Microbes

Tiny life forms, especially bacteria or other micro-organisms that causes disease. They are visible under microscopes.

Microbial colonies

A cluster of micro-organisms growing on the surface or within a solid medium.

Microbial evolution

The study of patterns and processes that affect how microbial diversity changes over time.

Micronutrients

Essential nutrients, as a trace mineral or vitamin that is required by an organism in minute amounts.

Micro-organism

A microscopic organism such as a bacterium, fungus or virus.

Microscopic

Something that is so small it can only be seen with a microscope.

Molecules

Molecules are the smallest physical unit of an element or compound that can exist on their own. They are so small that they cannot be seen, except with an electron microscope. With some exceptions (such as Helium) they consist of two or more atoms that are bonded together to make chemical elements.

Mosquitoes

A family of small midge-like flies known for biting and sucking blood, leaving an itchy bump on the skin. The bite of the bloodsucking female can transmit a number of serious diseases including malaria.

Mucus

A protective substance that is found in the body and is secreted by mucous membranes. In the gut, it helps lubricate the passage of food and in the nose, throat and lungs, it helps block the passage of bacteria into the body.

Multidrug-resistant

When disease-causing micro-organisms resist more than two substances such as antibiotics and a variety of other drugs which are aimed at eradicating that micro-organism. The micro-organism adapts through acts such as spontaneous mutation.

Muscle

There are over 600 muscles in the human body. Their function is to move the different parts of your body. Muscle is made up of fibres. There are three types of muscle: smooth, cardiac and skeletal.

Muscle tissue

A soft tissue that composes muscles in our bodies and gives rise to muscular contraction.

Muscular endurance

The ability of a muscle or set of muscles to perform a repeated action without tiring.

Mutating

The process of change to the structure of a gene. It leads to a variant form which may be transmitted to subsequent generations.

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity

A car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.

Negative lift

An aerodynamic downward force created by any air foil (such as wings or stabilisers).

Newtons

The newton (symbol: N) is the International System of Units (SI) derived unit of force. It is named after Isaac Newton.

Nucleus

The central part of most cells that contains the organism’s genetic material.

Nutrient broth

A liquid that contains nutrients required for micro-organisms to grow.

Nutrients

Nutrients are the components in foods that an organism uses to survive and grow. They provide nourishment and help the body make energy amongst other things.

Nutrition

Nutrition concerns everything the body does with food to carry out its functions. It is a process during which the body is able to nourish itself by turning food into energy.

Observations

The recording of data via the use of instruments or any data collected during a scientific activity.

Organ

A part of the body that has a specific function. For example the liver, lungs, heart and kidneys are all organs.

Organelle

A specialised structure within a living cell such as a nucleus or cell membrane. 

Organ system

A group of organs that work together to perform one or more bodily functions.

Oxygen-rich blood

Blood that is normally returning from the lungs, and is therefore full of oxygen, and is being pumped around the body by the heart.

Parasite(s)

An animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant and gets food or protection from it.

Parkinson’s disease

A disease that affects the nervous system and causes people's muscles to become weak and their arms and legs to shake.

Pathogens

A virus, bacterium or other micro-organism that can cause disease.

Peak pressure

The highest pressure that is applied to the lungs during inhalation.

Peripheral vision

The area of vision lying just outside the line of direct sight.

PHASE programme

GlaxoSmithKline's Personal Hygiene & Sanitation Education (PHASE) project which is helping to reduce diarrhoea-related disease by encouraging school children to wash their hands. 

Phenomena

Events that are unusual or unexplainable.

Physiology

The study of the function of living things and their parts, including physical and chemical processes such as reproduction, nutrition and biochemical processes.

Placebo

A tablet or other substance that is given to a patient, usually during a clinical trial, that has no physical effect on the patient.

Placenta

An organ in mammals that forms inside the mother's uterus, nourishing the unborn baby.

Plaque

A film of mucus and bacteria deposited on the teeth that encourages tooth decay.

Pole vaulter’s pole

A long, flexible pole (usually made either of fiberglass or carbon fibre) as an aid to jump over a bar.

Prescription

A written note/message from a doctor to tell someone how to use a medicine.

Protein(s)

Proteins play a central role in biological processes are essential to life. They are a part of everything that takes place in cells. Their main functions are to build muscle, fight infection and heal wounds. They are a crucial part of your diet and are found in meat, fish and dairy products.

Psychological advantage

Getting the players on both sides to believe that your team is likely to win.

Psychology

The scientific study of mental functions and behaviours.

Pulse

A rhythmical throbbing of the arteries as blood is propelled through them, typically felt in the wrists or neck. The throbbing is caused by successive contractions of the heart muscle.

Purified

When something is made pure – i.e. all foreign substances/pollutants are removed.

Receptor

A specialised cell or group of nerve endings that responds to sensory stimuli.

Repeatable

To do, make, or perform again.

Reproduce

To produce one or more other individuals of the same kind by a process of generation or propagation, sexual or asexual.

Respiration

Respiration is a chemical reaction that takes place in all living cells. It is not the same as breathing or ventilation. When oxygen is conveyed to our tissues and cells, the oxidation products of carbon dioxide and water are given off. In the process, energy released from glucose and provided to our cells to keep them functioning.

Retrovirus

A type of virus that has RNA instead of DNA as its genetic material.  It uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to become part of the host cells' DNA. This allows many copies of the virus to be made in the host cells.  HIV is an example of a retrovirus.

Saliva

Saliva is the clear liquid that is made in your mouth 24 hours a day, every day. It's made up mostly of water, with a few other chemicals. 

Sanitised

To make clean or hygienic.

Sanitiser

A disinfectant, substance or preparation designed to kill germs.

Secrete

To discharge or release through the process of secretion.

Shock absorber

A mechanical device designed to smooth out or damp shock impulse, and convert kinetic energy to another form of energy (usually thermal energy, which can be easily dissipated).

Shoulder blade

Two flat, triangular bones in the back of the shoulders of humans, or a similar bone in other vertebrates.

Soluble

Capable of being dissolved in a liquid, especially water.

Soluble proteins

Proteins that can dissolve in water.

Source of error

Something that could have caused you to obtain an incorrect result.

Spatial reasoning

The ability we use to position and orientate ourselves in everyday environments.

Spirit level

A tool with a window of coloured liquid (usually alcohol) and an air bubble, used to determine a horizontal or vertical reference line.

Spontaneous generation

A theory that suggested that living organisms could arise from non-living materials e.g. maggots from rotting meat. It was widely believed in the 19th century but has since been discredited.

Stamina

The ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.

Starch

An odourless, tasteless white substance, occurring widely in plant tissue found mainly in cereals and potatoes.

Strength to weight ratio

A material’s strength divided by its density.

Stroke

A loss of brain function caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually because a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot.

Superbug

A strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotic drugs.

Sustainable

To be able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

Symptoms

A sign of something else – in health symptoms can be a sign of a disorder or disease in someone, especially when it is not normally present in a person.

Systolic BP

In a blood pressure reading, systolic BP is the top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts.

Taut

Stretched or pulled tight; not slack.

Tendon

A flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone.

The linking system

A way of remembering things in a long list by making connections between them, usually by making up a story.

Tissue(s)

A group or layer of cells that perform specific functions. For example, muscle tissue is a group of muscle cells.

Tooth decay

The destruction of the outer surface (enamel) of teeth. It is a result of the action of bacteria in plaque sticking to enamel and using sugar and starch from food particles to create acid.

Traction

How well something grips onto something, moves ahead without slipping or pulling power.

Tuberculosis (TB)

An infectious bacterial disease where nodules grow in the tissues, especially the lungs.

Ultimate strength

The maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before failing or breaking.

Umbilical cord

This is the name for the soft long tube that runs between a mother and her unborn baby. It carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby and waste away from the baby. 

Unutilised

Not used in a practical and effective way.

Upper body strength

How strong the muscle in your upper body is (waist and higher).

Vaccinations

The process of getting a vaccine (usually an injection) to help your body protect itself from infection in the future.

Vaccine(s)

A fluid or other preparation that helps your body to become immune to a disease caused by certain germs. The vaccine contains some part of the microbe, but the vaccine does not make you sick. Rather it helps your body to protect itself from getting sick in the future. It is often given as an injection.

Vertical

Perpendicular, or at a right angle to the plane of the horizon; upright.

Virus/Viruses

Tiny micro-organisms that cause diseases such as chicken pox, measles, flu etc.

Virus infections

Infections caused by the presence of a virus in the body.

WHO

The World Health Organization. It is the directing and co-ordinating authority for health in the United Nations. 

Wind tunnel

A tunnel-like chamber through which air is forced and in which airplanes, motor vehicles, etc., or their scale models, are tested to determine the effects of wind pressure.

Womb

Otherwise known as the uterus in anatomy, the womb is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum. A growing foetus develops in the womb before birth.

Yield strength

The stress a material can withstand without permanent deformation.