biology

Katie Randall's picture

Presenting on Intersexuality-- A Template

After our unit on De/Meaning Sex and Gender, I knew I wanted to focus my web event on intersexuality. It’s a form of biological diversity of sex which most people don’t hear about until college, and many not even then.

So I started thinking—when would it make sense for students to first be introduced to intersexuality in an academic setting? I thought back to my own education in biology and the answer, to me, was middle school. In my middle school we had a unit in biology class which was basically “puberty education,” although I don’t remember what its official title was. We learned about the physical changes that male and female bodies go through in puberty—in other words, the changes our own bodies were going through right then. This would have been the perfect time to mention that not everyone would exactly fit into one pattern or another—that chromosomal sex, primary sex characteristics, and secondary sex characteristics don’t always match up. But this was never covered—not in middle school, high school or beyond.

I know that not everyone is given information about sex characteristics or the reproductive system in middle school, or even later. But to me the timing felt right.

I included the permission slip because I think that for many schools this would be part of the process of giving such a lecture.

 

Sample permission slip:

jmorgant's picture

A response to “Miss Representation 8 min. trailer:” Changing gender stereotypes by increasing visibility of female athletes

The trailer for Miss Representation by filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom describes the power of the media, acknowledging that people learn more from it than any other single source of information. The media is the primary force that shapes our society: “politics, national discourse, and children’s brains, lives, and emotions” (Jim Steyer, CEO, Common Sense Media). Upwards of one billion people use the Internet every day (Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Consumer Products, Google); images are widely available and accessible without restrictions.

 

The messages disseminated by the mainstream media are pervasive, and more often than not emphasize and perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes. According to Miss Representation, women hold only 3% of clout positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising and comprise just 16% of all writers, directors, producers, cinematographers and editors. Because women are generally not the ones deciding how they are represented in the media, they are often shown as sex objects, valued by their looks rather than their achievements. As a result, “girls are taught that their value is based on how they look, and boys are taught that that’s what’s important about women” (Jean Kilbourne, EdD, Filmmaker, Killing Us Softly).

 

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charlie's picture

Dear Middleschoolers, Love, Charlie

Dear boys, girls, and those of you who just aren’t quite sure yet (because that is totally cool too),

            For many of you, this is a confusing time. Things are growing in places where you aren’t sure if they are supposed to be growing, new places might develop novel smells, and you might start to feel differently. If any of these things apply to you, or if none of these things apply to you, you are still normal. Every body goes through different changes at different speeds and in completely different orders. So if your best friend is growing armpit hair, but you haven’t reached that point yet, don’t worry – we all catch up in the end! I am writing to you, middle-schoolers, because this time can be a bit scary; there are a lot of changes that you can expect in the next couple of years, and a lot of information out there, both true and false, so a quick guide to the next few years seems like a pretty good resource for you right about now. Read on to learn about what makes boys and girls different biologically, some of the changes that you can expect to your body during puberty, how babies are made, and a quick peek at the different categorizations of gender!

Let’s start from the very beginning. How did we get here and what exactly makes girls different from boys?

Should You Drink Sports Drinks? When? Why?

The questions in this activity help students to understand the effects of consuming sports drinks and when and how the consumption of sports drinks can be beneficial or harmful. This activity provides the opportunity to review some basic concepts related to osmosis, cellular respiration, mammalian temperature regulation, and how our different body systems cooperate to maintain homeostasis.

 The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes.

Molecular Biology: Major Concepts and Learning Activities

This overview reviews key concepts and learning activities to help students understand how genes influence our traits by molecular processes.  Topics covered include basic understanding of the important roles of proteins and DNA; DNA structure, function and replication; the molecular biology of how genes influence traits, including transcription and translation; the molecular biology of mutations; and genetic engineering.  To help students understand the relevance of these molecular processes, the suggested learning activities link alleles of specific genes to human characteristics such as albinism, sickle cell anemia and muscular dystrophy. Suggested activities include hands-on laboratory and simulation activities, web-based simulations, discussion activities and a vocabulary review game.

The attached file has the overview of key concepts and learning activities, with links to the activities. 

The Molecular Biology of Mutations and Muscular Dystrophy

In this discussion/worksheet activity students explore the effects of different types of point mutations and deletion mutations and analyze the reasons why deletion mutations generally have more severe effects than point mutations.  Students use their understanding of the molecular biology of mutations to analyze the genetic basis for the differences in severity of two types of muscular dystrophy.    

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes. 

From Gene to Polypeptide -- The Roles of the Base Pairing Rules and the Genetic Code

The questions in this discussion/worksheet activity reinforce student understanding of the information flow from a gene to a polypeptide, with an emphasis on understanding the roles of the base-pairing rules and the genetic code chart.

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes. 

DNA

This discussion/worksheet activity can be used to introduce your students to DNA structure and replication or to review these topics.  The first version of the Student Handout provides a review for students who are familiar with DNA structure and replication.  The second version of the Student Handout includes explanatory material and can be used to introduce students to the double helix structure of DNA and the process of replication. You may want to use this discussion activity together with the extraction of DNA from green split peas using the instructions available at http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/labs/extraction/howto/ (see Teacher Notes available at http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_edu/waldron/#dna for additional advice on procedures for the extraction).

The first and second attached files have the first and second versions of the Student Handout and the third attached file has the Teacher Notes.

Molecular Biology Vocabulary Review Game

This game helps students to enjoy reviewing vocabulary related to molecular biology, including DNA and RNA structure and function, transcription and translation. Each card in the deck has a target vocabulary word and two related taboo words that the student may not use as he/she gives clues so the other students in his/her small group can guess the target word. Many students have trouble learning the substantial new vocabulary required for biology, and this game lets students have fun while reinforcing their understanding of key terms. 

The first file below provides the master copy for creating the card decks for this game, and the second file below provides the teacher notes, including instructions for playing the game. 

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