activities for teaching biology

Carbohydrate Consumption, Athletic Performance and Health – Using Science Process Skills to Understand the Evidence

This discussion/worksheet activity is designed to develop students' understanding of the scientific process by having them design an experiment to test a hypothesis, compare their experimental design with the design of a research study that tested the same hypothesis, evaluate research evidence concerning two hypothesized effects of carbohydrate consumption, evaluate the pros and cons of experimental vs. observational research studies, and finally use what they have learned to revise a standard diagram of the scientific method to make it more accurate, complete and realistic.

The Student Handout is provided in the first attached file and the Teacher Notes are provided in the second attached file.

Understanding the Biology of Cancer

This discussion/worksheet activity introduces students to the molecular and cellular biology of cancer, including the important contributions of mutations in genes that code for proteins involved in regulating the rate of cell division. The questions in this activity challenge students to interpret the information presented in prose, tables and diagrams and apply their knowledge of basic molecular and cellular biology in order to understand multiple aspects of the biology of cancer, including the contributions of a variety of environmental exposures to increased risk for different types of cancer and the long lag between exposure to carcinogens and the diagnosis of cancer.

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

Using Molecular and Evolutionary Biology to Understand HIV/AIDS and Treatment

This discussion/worksheet activity introduces students to the biology of HIV infection and treatment, including the molecular biology of the HIV virus lifecycle and the importance of understanding molecular biology and natural selection for developing effective treatments. The questions in this activity challenge students to apply their understanding of basic molecular and cellular biology and natural selection and interpret the information presented in prose and diagrams in order to understand multiple aspects of the biology of HIV/AIDS and treatment.

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

How Mistakes in Cell Division Can Result in Down Syndrome and Miscarriages

This discussion/worksheet activity reinforces student understanding of the process of meiosis and the importance of having exactly the right number of copies of each chromosome in our body's cells. This activity also helps students to understand that miscarriages are often the result of genetic abnormalities and that genetic conditions sometimes are not inherited (e.g. Down syndrome due to meiotic nondisjunction). Optional additional questions can be used to promote student understanding of sex chromosome abnormalities and X chromosome inactivation. 

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

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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