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We arc beginning to understand the biochemical nature of the genes that Gregor Mendel studied in his classic experiments with garden peas. This paper shows where Mendel's genes are located on the pea chromosome map, discusses the mutations involved in some of these genes, and shows how they can be used to teach classical genetics and the nature of the gene.
Mandated biology curriculum standards and standardized tests may vary widely from one state to another, making academic-performance comparisons among the states problematic. This report outlines the effects of the “No Child Left Behind” law and uses California as a test case against which teachers in other states may make comparisons of their own biology curriculum standards and tests. Several sources are cited that offer sample multiple-choice questions that have appeared on previous California standardized tests for sciences/life sciences/biology. These examples, and critique thereof, may help teachers better prepare their own tests to improve student performance in meeting the state's curriculum standards in individual science classes and in mandated statewide tests.
Many animals direct assistance selectively toward relatives and/or aggression toward non-relatives; the ability to differentiate between kin and non-kin should evolve when doing so incurs fitness benefits. We detail a field-based experiment that tests whether workers of a large-bodied, abundant, and hardy seed-harvester ant are capable of kin recognition. We use this exercise in an undergraduate animal-behavior class to introduce concepts associated with eusocial insects and the study of kin recognition, as well as to reinforce principles of hypothesis testing, experimental design, and scientific writing. Students collect data, analyze and interpret results, and write a formal report; this experiment is one of several we use as models to prepare students for designing and performing their own follow-up studies.
Immersive experiences contribute to and enhance diverse curricula. Although more commonly applied to language curricula, student travel has much to offer science courses as well. Here, several options are described for secondary and college-level biology courses to participate in field-based study. The experience of one high school with one Amazonian field station is considered in detail, and several alternative opportunities for science-based student travel are provided as well. Traveling to the Amazon as an extension of classroom-based hypothesis generation and experimental design contextualized content for one high school biology course in a way that is powerful and repcatable.
All scientists use the scientific method to investigate the unknown by developing a hypothesis, designing an experiment, collecting data, and interpreting findings. The purpose of this activity is to teach middle school students about the scientific method and foraging ecology as they investigate a foraging behavior (strand feeding) of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). We tested this activity on middle school students and found that the activity promoted student inquiry, ingenuity, and critical thinking as the students used the scientific method to answer questions about strand feeding.
Would you rather solve a forensics puzzle or take a lab practical? An alternative to the traditional lab practical can he used to assess students' skills and knowledge in plant cell biology and anatomy. This forensics project challenges students to analyze evidence from crime scenarios. The instructor supplies the scenarios, evidence collected at the crime scene, and type specimens. The students prepare the evidence and type specimens for analysis by light and polarized light microscopy and then document and report their findings. Students enjoy this project and arc able to demonstrate their skills as well as their knowledge.
I explain a classroom activity to model translation of RNA into proteins. Students are given worksheets with short mRNA sequences and a genetic code coding phrases instead of amino acids. Students use the code to write a sentence from their mRNA sequences; a “Chuck Norris fact” is provided as an example. 1 also provide instructions to expand this activity to include transcription of DNA into RNA.