Students learn about the basics of aerobic cellular respiration and alcoholic fermentation and design and carry out experiments to test how variables such as sugar concentration influence the rate of alcoholic fermentation in yeast. In an optional extension activity students can use their yeast mixture to make a small roll of bread.
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Students begin with interactive activities to develop a basic understanding of why cells need oxygen and need to get rid of carbon dioxide, how the circulatory and respiratory systems cooperate to bring oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from cells all over the body, and how the nervous system regulates breathing. Then, students carry out an experiment to test whether changing levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide influence how long they can hold their breath.
This overview presents key concepts that students often do not learn from standard textbook presentations and suggests a sequence of learning activities to help students understand how the parts of a cell work together to accomplish the multiple functions of a dynamic living cell. Suggested activities also reinforce student understanding of the relationships between molecules, organelles and cells, the diversity of cell structure and function, and the importance and limitations of diffusion. This overview provides links to Web resources, hands-on activities and discussion activities.
This game helps students to enjoy reviewing vocabulary related to cells, organelles, and the plasma membrane. Each card in the deck has a target vocabulary word and two related taboo words that the student may not use when giving clues so the other students in his or her small group can guess the target word. Many students have trouble learning the substantial new vocabulary required for biology, and this game lets students have fun while reinforcing their understanding of key terms.
This minds-on analysis and discussion activity reviews how eukaryotic cells are molecular factories in two senses: cells produce molecules and cells are made up of molecules. The questions guide students to think about how the different parts of a eukaryotic cell cooperate to function as a protein-producing factory and as a recycling plant. Additional questions require students to identify the locations and functions of different types of molecules in eukaryotic cells.
This overview of energy, cellular respiration and photosynthesis summarizes important concepts and common misconceptions. It also suggests a sequence of learning activities to overcome misconceptions, develop student understanding of important concepts, and relate these concepts to familiar topics such as breathing, food, body weight, and plant growth.
In this activity, students extract DNA from their cheek cells and relate the steps in the procedure to the characteristics of cells and biological molecules. Students learn key concepts about the function of DNA during the intervals required for the extraction procedure. A second optional section develops student understanding of the fundamentals of DNA structure, function and replication; this section includes hands-on modeling of DNA replication. This activity, together with our activity, "From Gene to Protein - Transcription and Translation", can be used to teach the basic concepts of molecular biology.
This analysis and discussion activity can be used to introduce your students to key concepts about DNA structure, function and replication or to review these topics. This activity includes hands-on modeling of DNA replication.
Students investigate the effects of molecule size on diffusion across a synthetic selectively permeable membrane. This investigation includes observation and analysis of osmosis (diffusion of water across a selectively permeable membrane). Additional questions guide students in analyzing the relative advantages of different types of model of the cell membrane.
This minds-on analysis and discussion activity helps students understand that cell size is limited by the very slow rate of diffusion over any substantial distance and the insufficient surface-area-to-volume ratio for larger cells. In addition, students calculate why these problems do not apply to long slender cells or parts of cells (e.g. the axons of neurons that extend from your spinal cord to your foot). To maximize student participation and learning, I recommend that you have your students complete the questions individually or in pairs and then have a whole class discussion.
Students learn the principles of independent assortment and gene linkage in activities which analyze inheritance of multiple genes on the same or different chromosomes in hypothetical dragons. Students learn how these principles derive from the behavior of chromosomes during meiosis and fertilization.
In this simulation activity students mimic the processes of meiosis and fertilization to investigate the inheritance of multiple genes and then use their understanding of concepts such as dominant/recessive alleles, incomplete dominance, sex-linked inheritance, and epistasis to interpret the results of the simulation. This activity can be used as a culminating activity after you have introduced classical genetics, and it can serve as formative assessment to identify any areas of confusion that require additional clarification.
Experiments with the enzyme lactase and discussion questions help students to learn about enzyme function, enzyme specificity, and the molecular basis of lactose intolerance. Students also learn about the scientific method by interpreting evidence to test hypotheses and designing the second and third experiments to answer specific scientific questions about lactase. (An alternative version of the Student Handout gives specific instructions for all three of the experiments.)
In common experience, the term "adapting" usually refers to changes during an organism's lifetime. In contrast, evolutionary biologists use the term "adaptation" to refer to a heritable trait that increases fitness. To help students reconcile these different concepts, this activity introduces the concept of phenotypic plasticity (the ability of an organism to adapt to different environments within its lifetime). Questions guide students in analyzing how the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of a characteristic (e.g. an animal's color) can vary in different circumstances, how phenotypic plasticity can be a heritable trait that can optimize fitness in a variable environment, and how natural selection can influence the amount of phenotypic plasticity in a population. This activity is designed to help high school students meet the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards.
Principles of natural selection are demonstrated by a simulation that involves different color pom-poms and student feeders equipped with different types of feeding implements. Students analyze results to see how different traits contribute to fitness in different habitats. Additional examples and questions help students to understand the process of natural selection, including three necessary conditions for natural selection to take place.
This minds-on analysis and discussion activity helps students to understand the relationships between food molecules as a source of energy, cellular respiration, physical activity, and changes in body weight.
In this hands-on activity students learn how a gene provides the instructions for making a protein, and how genes can cause albinism or sickle cell anemia. Simple paper models are used to simulate the molecular processes of transcription and translation. This activity can be used to introduce students to these topics or to reinforce student understanding. In addition, students evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different types of models included in this activity.
"Genetic Engineering Challenge - How can scientists develop a type of rice that could prevent vitamin A deficiency?" is an analysis and discussion activity. This activity begins with an introduction to vitamin A deficiency, rice seeds, and genetic engineering. Next, several questions challenge students to design a basic plan that could produce a genetically engineered rice plant that makes rice grains that contain pro-vitamin A. Subsequent information and questions guide students in developing an understanding of the basic techniques of genetic engineering. Students use fundamental molecular biology concepts as they think about how to solve a practical problem. This activity can be used to introduce students to genetic engineering or to reinforce basic understanding of genetic engineering.
This activity helps students to understand basic principles of genetics, including relationships of genotype to phenotype, concepts of recessive and dominant alleles, and how understanding meiosis and fertilization provides the basis for understanding inheritance, as summarized in Punnett squares. The Student Handout includes an analysis of the inheritance of albinism that teaches all of these concepts, a Coin Toss Genetics activity that helps students understand the probabilistic nature of Punnett square predictions, and an analysis of the inheritance of sickle cell anemia that reinforces the basic concepts and introduces some of the complexities of genetics. The Genetics Supplement includes two additional activities, an analysis of student data on the sex makeup of sibships and pedigree analyses of recessive and dominant alleles with challenge questions that introduce the role of mutations and an evaluation of Punnett squares and pedigrees as models of inheritance.
These lessons demonstrate how a good understanding of mitosis, meiosis and fertilization and a basic understanding of the roles of DNA and proteins can provide the basis for understanding genetics. Important genetics concepts for students to learn are summarized and multiple learning activities are suggested to help students understand Punnett squares, pedigrees, dominant/recessive alleles, X-linked recessive alleles, incomplete dominance, co-dominance, test crosses, independent assortment, genetic linkage, polygenic inheritance, etc. This overview provides links to suggested activities which include hands-on simulation and laboratory activities, analysis of class data, review games and discussion activities and questions.