Speaking of Feedback Loops

Teaching kids about feedback loops? First it’s important to establish that positive feedback loops aren’t necessarily a good thing and negative feedback loops likely are not something bad!

Examples of feedback loops in the human body let kids feel more connection with the whole idea. So… negative feedback loops function to move systems back in the direction of stability and maintain homeostasis. For example, shivering when the body is cold will cause friction and heat that will raise the body temperature. In this negative feedback loop the processes involved will bring the body’s parameters back to a normal level.

In a positive feedback loop, on the other hand, processes will be engaged that will accelerate and intensify the divergence from the norm. An excellent example is seen with labor and delivery, in which it is desirable to bring the process to its conclusion quickly and efficiently. (Ask any woman whether she’d like to have a short labor or a protracted one!!) So when labor begins, instead of contractions being damped and decreasing, they increase in strength and frequency till the baby is finally delivered. This is a positive feedback loop, a process that intensifies and increases over time until the culmination is reached.

A positive feedback loop

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