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Traditional transcription-translation exercises are instructionally incomplete by failing to link prescriptive genetic information with protein structure and function. The T3 Method solves this problem by adding a conceptually powerful yet easily learned third step where students use simple protein folding codes to transform their translations into corresponding protein structural models. This brings structural sense to sequence and makes the information-to-proteins connection that is so profoundly important to understand in biology more directly evident, experiential, and intrinsically meaningful. The T3 Method has further utility, proving versatile and adaptive to a wide range of academic levels and learning contexts, with possibilities for differentiated instruction, application, and extension.
Attempting to foster mastery learning for students in the biological sciences, we incorporated an authentic research-based activity that contained real-world applications. To do this, we redesigned a laboratory component of a junior level, general genetics course. This included lengthening the time for the experiment, incorporating new technology for data analyses, and generating new assessments. These changes led to a more collaborative and interactive environment. Students were given the challenge of inducing a phenotypic change within the model organism, Paramecium. This allowed students to design their own experimental approaches. We assessed the students on formative and summative levels to determine if they were accomplishing the learning outcomes. Students demonstrated they were successful in meeting these, which included mastering a set of laboratory skills, designing their own experiment, and incorporating technology needed for data collection and analyses.
Cell migration is a basic developmental function that serves to build tissues, organs, and whole animals. Defects in cell migration are associated with birth defects and cancer, in particular the metastasis of tumors. Over the past forty years researchers have used the fruit fly to understand the genetic basis of development, including cell migration, but many of the tools and approaches used are beyond the skills and understanding of an undergraduate and advanced high school lab. We have developed a practical lab that allows students to use fly oogenesis to understand how genes regulate cell migration. Students learn to sort males from females, recognize fly genetic markers to identify wild type and mutant animals, hand-dissect ovaries, perform histochemical staining to reveal gene expression in this tissue, and visualize normal and aberrant cell migration using light microscopy to distinguish the effect of a key mutation in a gene required for cell migration. From this approach, students learn how mutations can aid in understanding gene function and how modern genetic tools and microscopy are used to study gene expression and development. Because these genes have human homologs, students learn how model organisms can be used to understand the molecular basis of disease and disorders, such as cancer.
In an earlier paper (Smith & Baldwin, 2015), we explained the basic concepts of the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWeq) principle needed for meaningful understanding and for good teaching, emphasizing distinctions that are sometimes ignored at the cost of coherent understanding, and identifying nine shortcomings of most available Hardy-Weinberg activities and problem sets. In the present paper, we provide a 5E lesson plan based on that analysis and designed to avoid the shortcomings identified, including providing original data and focusing on understanding and topics that are interesting and meaningful to young people.
This paper describes a collaborative activity for students, which allows them to build simplified models of individual nucleotides, DNA, and RNA using ZOOB building blocks. These models help students learn about nucleic acid structure and the process of transcription. In addition, students learn how to work in groups as well as practice critical thinking and deductive reasoning while building these models.
The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a fundamental laboratory technique with direct applications across scientific research and clinical diagnostics as well as everyday life. Unfortunately, many challenges exist that inhibit both its introduction and implementation in the high school biology classroom. We present a reliable yet inexpensive way of effectively simulating this assay, allowing student exposure to several advanced topics, including immunodetection, clinical diagnostics, and qualitative and quantitative colorimetric analysis.
The purpose of this activity is to model the formation of homologous chromosomes and the crossing over realized in meiosis I cell division. The model established through the activities conducted will allow students to visualize homologous chromosomes and the formation of crossing over among them. The model will help students to understand how homologous chromosomes occur and how crossing over is realized between homologous chromosomes whose chromatids are not sisters. The developed model is found to be an effective tool in teaching crossing over.
Introducing Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium into the high school or college classroom can be difficult because many students struggle with the mathematical formalism of the Hardy-Weinberg equations. Despite the potential difficulties, incorporating Hardy-Weinberg into the curriculum can provide students with the opportunity to investigate a scientific theory using data and integrate across the disciplines of biology and mathematics. We present a geometric way to interpret and visualize Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, allowing students to focus on the core ideas without algebraic baggage. We also introduce interactive applets that draw on the distributive property of mathematics to allow students to experiment in real time. With the applets, students can observe the effects of changing allele frequencies on genotype frequencies in a population at Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Anecdotally, we found use of the geometric interpretation led to deeper student understanding of the concepts and improved the students' ability to solve Hardy-Weinberg-related problems. Students can use the ideas and tools provided here to draw connections between the biology and mathematics, as well as between algebra and geometry.
We present a teaching activity whose aim is to enhance students' understanding of color perception by introducing them to intersubjective color variations among normal perceivers. The approach can be used in different disciplines, including biology, philosophy, psychology, physics, or statistics, for different purposes and with college students having various levels of sophistication and scientific training.