OpenStax Biology

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Virtual Cell Animation Collection

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The Virtual Cell Animation Collection currently contains 24 animations in 3D and with motion, which cover many molecular and cellular biology (MCB) topics. The Animation Collection is available on a website (, a YouTube channel (, and as an Apple iOS app. Biology education research indicates that 1) multiple viewing of animations increase learning gains beyond a single viewing either before a lecture, as in a “flipped” classroom, or during a lecture, 2) increased learning gains result from engagement with animations over engagement with static graphics, and 3) students perceive that engagement with animations greatly facilitates their understanding of MCB processes.

Material Type: Simulation

Authors: Alan White, Katie Reindl, Phillip McClean

Activities for engaging students in Biology using animations

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This resource includes three classroom-tested activities that were created using the ideas outlined in the article “Getting more out of animations” by Pruneski and Donovan (in press). The driving idea is that animations can be a powerful tool for learning complex biological processes, but when students are passive viewers, it limits their usefulness and may become simply another source of content to be memorized. Engaging students with animations can greatly increase the amount of information that can be extracted and can help students develop important learning skills that can be useful in the future. These sample assignments help make the use of animations more effective and active by structuring student viewing using guiding questions. These questions focus on particular objects, features, or steps of the process to help students accomplish specific learning objectives for that topic. The assignments also help students think about animations as media objects that are created by scientists and animators using specific tools and conventions that affect how the process is depicted and the ways in which it should be viewed. Lastly, by comparing and contrasting multiple animations of the same process, students can extract more information, overcome the limitations of each individual animations, and generate a more complete view of the process.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Homework/Assignment

Authors: Stacey Kiser, Sam Donovan, Justin Pruneski

Logic Puzzle

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This activity is intended as an exercise in deductive logic. The students perform a series of "experiments" in which they try to identify which predators eat which specific prey (Each predator eats one and only one prey). The instructions are on the site. students may also click on the blue square to make the game full screen. A worksheet is added for students to record their results. This also is an exercise in articulating the logic used in the study. (Most students have no trouble figuring out the relationships). Writing down their results and conclusions is a bit trickier. ) This has been used for community college classes. It can be used at lower levels such as high school or even middle school without the worksheet.

Material Type: Game

Author: Arthur Wohlwill