activities for teaching biology

Cell Structure and Function -- Major Concepts and Learning Activities

This overview presents key concepts that students often do not learn from standard textbook presentations and suggests a sequence of learning activities to help students understand how the parts of a cell work together to accomplish the multiple functions of a dynamic living cell.  Suggested activities also reinforce student understanding of the relationships between molecules, organelles and cells, the diversity of cell structure and function, and the importance and limitations of diffusion. This overview provides links to web resources, hands-on activities, and discussion activities.

  The attached file has the key concepts and suggested learning activities.

Diffusion and Cell Size and Shape

This discussion/worksheet activity helps students understand that cell size is limited by the very slow rate of diffusion over any substantial distance and the insufficient surface-area-to-volume ratio for larger cells.  In addition, students calculate why these problems do not apply to long slender cells or parts of cells (e.g. the axons of neurons that extend from your spinal cord to your foot).

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

Diversity of Cell Structure and Function

The questions in this discussion/worksheet activity enhance student understanding of the similarities and differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, the relationship between structure and function in different types of eukaryotic cells, the functions of the various organelles, and the relationships between molecules, organelles and cells.

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

Cells As Molecular Factories

This discussion/worksheet activity reviews how eukaryotic cells are molecular factories in two senses: cells produce molecules and cells are made up of molecules.  The questions guide students to think about how the different parts of a eukaryotic cell cooperate to function as a protein-producing factory and as a recycling plant.  Additional questions require students to identify the locations and functions of different types of molecules in eukaryotic cells.

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

Cell Vocabulary Review Game

This game helps students to enjoy reviewing vocabulary related to cells, organelles, and the plasma membrane.  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.

How Do Biological Organisms Use Energy?

This minds-on discussion/worksheet activity is designed to help students understand the basic principles of how biological organisms use energy, with a focus on the roles of ATP and cellular respiration.  The overview developed by this activity provides a useful introduction to cellular respiration and an important conceptual background for students who will be learning the complex specifics of cellular respiration. 

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes which include background information and an optional activity "Sports Physiology – Energy".

Genetics Review Jeopardy Game

This game reviews genetics, with 25 questions of varying levels of difficulty. After you open the game in the PowerPoint attachment, click on slideshow and then view show to operate in full screen mode. Clicking on a number in the game board brings you to a question. When that question has been answered click on the yellow box in the lower right corner and you'll be brought back to the game board screen.  Spaces for questions that have already been answered will now appear blank, just like on the TV show.  

Genetics Vocabulary Review Taboo Game

This game helps students to enjoy reviewing vocabulary related to genetics.  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.

 

Genetics Web Search Activity

This web search activity provides instructions and recommended sources to investigate genetic conditions and diseases.

Should States Repeal Their Laws Banning First Cousin Marriage? – Effects of first cousin marriage on health risks for their children

This minds-on discussion/worksheet activity challenges students to analyze which types of genetic conditions will be more common among children of first cousin marriage and to use evidence concerning the magnitude of observed health effects to evaluate whether laws banning first cousin marriage in 25 states should be repealed.  

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

 

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