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Genetics is perhaps the most rapidly growing field of science today. Recent findings such as those of the Human Genome Project have led to new understandings of basic genetic phenomena and even to increased confusion about some basic genetic ideas, such as the nature of the gene. These developments directly influence how we should teach genetics. This article considers eight claims typically made by introductory biology teachers and considers how they differ from current understandings.
Argumentation is now seen as a core practice for helping students engage with the construction and critique of scientific ideas and for making students scientifically literate. This article demonstrates a negotiation model to show how argumentation can be a vehicle to drive students to learn science's big ideas. The model has six phases: creating a testable question, conducting an investigation cooperatively, constructing an argument in groups, negotiating arguments publicly, consulting the experts, and writing and reflecting individually. A fifth-grade classroom example from a unit on the human body serves as an example to portray how argumentation can be integrated into science classrooms.
We describe how the increased level of religiosity in the United States is correlated with the resistance to the teaching of evolution and argue that this is a social, rather than scientific, issue. Our goal is to foster teachers' understanding of the philosophy of biology and encourage them to proactively deal with creationism at all levels, not just in the biology classroom.
The alleged “man tracks” beside dinosaur tracks near Glen Rose, Texas, are among the most enduring pieces of evidence used by young-Earth creationists to reject evolution. Despite the tracks' fame, their most persistent advocate — that is, Carl Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum — has published neither (1) peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals about the tracks nor (2) clear, convincing, unenhanced photographs of unaltered tracks taken during an excavation. I participated in an excavation sponsored by Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum that uncovered three “man tracks” that Baugh and his assistants verified as being made by humans. These “tracks” are presented here and are among the first clear, unenhanced photographs of freshly uncovered “man tracks” taken during a Baugh-led excavation. They look no different than any of the countless other scuffs, cracks, and erosion marks in the area.
Little empirical evidence suggested that independent reading abilities of students enrolled in biology predicted their performance on the Biology I Graduation End-of-Course Assessment (ECA). An archival study was conducted at one Indiana urban public high school in Indianapolis, Indiana, by examining existing educational assessment data to test whether a relationship between reading proficiency and student performance on the Biology I ECA existed. The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was r = 0.712 (P < 0.01). A strong positive relationship between Biology I ECA and Lexile reading scores accounted for 50.7% of the variance. The results suggested that any measure to increase reading levels would increase standardized biology assessment scores.
In this activity, freshman college students learn biotechnology techniques while playing the role of a laboratory technician. They perform simulations of three diagnostic tests used to screen newborns for cystic fibrosis. By performing an ELISA, a PCR analysis, and a conductivity test, students learn how biotechnology techniques can be used to diagnose diseases. Students get excited when they realize they will be performing tests actually used in a real-life situation. This exercise is also appropriate for high school students.
Evolutionary experiments are usually difficult to perform in the classroom because of the large sizes and long timescales of experiments testing evolutionary hypotheses. Computer applications give students a window to observe evolution in action, allowing them to gain comfort with the process of natural selection and facilitating inquiry experimentation. The lesson described here uses a free online program, BoxCar2D, to demonstrate evolution by natural selection in a virtual population of cars. Students will be introduced to the principles of evolution and conduct independent inquiry projects on key predictions from evolution — including convergence, local adaptation, and the role of mutation in adaptation.
This simple inquiry-based lab was designed to teach the principle of osmosis while also providing an experience for students to use the skills and practices commonly found in science. Students first design their own experiment using very basic equipment and supplies, which generally results in mixed, but mostly poor, outcomes. Classroom “talk and argument” is then used to determine how their experiments could be changed to gather more reliable data. The final assessment consists of both formal and subjective testing, requiring students to explain their design choices.