All resources in OER STEM Science User Group

Heredity Mix n Match

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Students randomly select jelly beans (or other candy) that represent genes for several human traits such as tongue-rolling ability and eye color. Then, working in pairs (preferably of mixed gender), students randomly choose new pairs of jelly beans from those corresponding to their own genotypes. The new pairs are placed on toothpicks to represent the chromosomes of the couple's offspring. Finally, students compare genotypes and phenotypes of parents and offspring for all the "couples" in the class. In particular, they look to see if there are cases where parents and offspring share the exact same genotype and/or phenotype, and consider how the results would differ if they repeated the simulation using more than four traits.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan

Author: Mary R. Hebrank

Debris Dilemmas

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View the video ̢ĺŰĺĎTrash on the Spin Cycle̢ĺŰĺ to discover what causes huge quantities of garbage to end up on the most remote islands in the world and how this garbage affects wildlife.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Inside the Brain: An Interactive Tour

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The human brain is in many ways a fantastic and enigmatic part of the body, and only within the past few decades have scientists begun to understand its many nooks and crannies. When the brain is beset with any number of neurological conditions, it changes in a myriad of ways. This website, provided by the Alzheimer's Association, provides an interactive tour of the brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease. The tour contains sixteen interactive slides, and each slide contains informative text that provides background material. The first seven slides contain a bit of background information about the brain, such as what the brain is composed of and how it functions.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Diagram/Illustration, Interactive, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Are You In Control?

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This lesson teaches the engineering method for testing wherein one variable is changed while the others are held constant. Students compare the performance of a single paper airplane design while changing the shape, size and position of flaps on the airplane. Students also learn about control surfaces on the tail and wings of an airplane.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan

Authors: Alex Conner, Geoffrey Hill, Janet Yowell, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Tom Rutkowski

Rated MPG for Confusion: Using Gas Mileage to Learn Graphing and Data Analysis Skills

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This case study follows a family's dilemma about how to save money on gasoline. Should they keep their SUV and trade in their Corolla for a hybrid sedan? Going from 28 (Corolla) to 48 (Hybrid) miles per gallon (MPG) should really save money on gas. That's a change of 20 MPG! Or, should they keep their Corolla and trade in their SUV for a minivan? The SUV gets about 13 MPG while the Minivan gets 17 MPG. Students learn how to analyze fuel efficiency in terms of "gallons per miles" driven instead of miles per gallon, and gain graphing and data analysis skills. An extension activity also relates fuel efficiency to greenhouse gas emissions. The case was developed for use in a high school general science course. It could be adapted for use in introductory physics, chemistry, algebra, or environmental science courses at the high school or college level.

Material Type: Case Study

Authors: Alan Gleue, Carolyn Pearson, Claudia Bode


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This science resource covers a variety of topics; however, the specific URL is on Genetics. It has significant explanations on the basic Principles of Genetics, Co-dominance, Incomplete dominance, and Sex-Linked traits. The units have precise and manageable explanations, and there are numerous links and additional resources to support instructors and students to advance learning. The access to videos and online simulations enhances particular areas, and the diverse assessments support mastery of skills. This is a very purposeful resource on genetics; it is useful to make learning more effective either as an overall instructional method or as an individualized learning supplement.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Case Study, Diagram/Illustration, Game, Interactive, Lecture, Lecture Notes, Lesson Plan, Primary Source, Reading, Simulation, Teaching/Learning Strategy, Textbook, Unit of Study

The Botany of Desire

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In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan explores risks inherent in one of the most widespread practices in modern agriculture. It's called monoculture, and it refers to cultivation of single or very similar varieties of a food crop on large acreages. In many cases, the variety is one that dominates the marketplace, like the Russet Burbank potato, whose shape makes it a favorite for cutting French fries, or one of the few apple varieties commonly seen in supermarkets. Monoculture may offer economic advantages, but Pollan argues that it brings serious environmental risks.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lecture, Lecture Notes, Lesson Plan, Reading, Unit of Study

How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries

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Adam Savage walks through two spectacular examples of profound scientific discoveries that came from simple, creative methods anyone could have followed -- Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference around 200 BC and Hippolyte Fizeau's measurement of the speed of light in 1849. A quiz, thought provoking question, and links for further study are provided to create a lesson around the 7-minute video. Educators may use the platform to easily "Flip" or create their own lesson for use with their students of any age or level.

Material Type: Lecture

Authors: Adam Savage, Franz Palomares, Jeremiah Dickey, Kari Mullholand