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In this activity for the beginning of a high school Biology 1 evolution unit, students are challenged to reconstruct organisms found in an owl pellet as a model for fossil reconstruction. They work in groups to develop hypotheses about what animal they have found, what environment it inhabited, and what niche it filled. At the end of the activity, the groups participate in a defense and peer review of their findings. This activity develops students' knowledge of the nature of science, evidence for evolution, and individual thinking and reasoning skills.
Outdoor areas within or near college campuses offer an opportunity for biology students to observe the natural world and apply concepts from class. Here, 1 describe an engaging and integrative project where undergraduate non-major biology students work in teams to develop and present professional “eco tours.” This project takes place over multiple class sessions and is customizable on the basis of course content. This project encourages students to work collaboratively and demonstrate creativity, and empowers students with opportunities to enhance public-speaking skills and share findings with the greater campus community.
A simple method is presented to show bids the size of a microbe — a fungus hypha — compared to a human hair. Common household items are used to make sterile medium on a stove or hotplate, which is dispensed in the cells of a weekly plastic pill box. Mold fungi can be easily and safely grown on the medium from the classroom environment. A microscope capable of 200–400× is necessary. Students can use a hair from their own head to view a fungus and a hair side-by-side on the same slide. They will see that a microscopic fungus hypha is 20–50× smaller in diameter than a hair. Older students will also learn that microbes are measured in micrometers, that fungi are ubiquitous, and that decay is an inevitable part of Earth's processes.
Cultivation of microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria is often not included in scientific inquiries conducted in school because of the difficulty of manufacturing a suitable medium. A method using dry rehydratable film to reduce the need to manufacture a suitable medium and shorten incubation time was developed as an efficient microbial testing method. Using this method, students can easily perform experiments on microorganisms in schools where time and space are limited. For example, we carried out an inquiry on the possibility of drinking refrigerated milk that is already past its expiration date. Through this activity, we could raise issues related to the current shelf-life labeling system implemented in Korea. In addition, the method can measure microorganisms in several ways through air, direct contact, and indirect contact, making the procedure easier to use in scientific activities at school.
This activity engages students to better understand the impact of transmission by invasive species. Using dice, poker chips, and paper plates, an entire class mimics the spread of an invasive species within a geographic region. The activity can be modified and conducted at the K-16 levels.
We describe a short (<50 minutes) activity using news articles from sources such as Science Daily to teach students the steps of the scientific method and the difference between primary and secondary literature sources. The flexibility in choosing news articles to examine allowed us to tailor the activity to the specific interests of our student group. This exercise is particularly useful in situations where there is no laboratory component to a course, the time devoted to teaching the scientific method is constrained, or the topic is not presented adequately in the textbook utilized for the course.
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