activities for teaching biology

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

The questions in this analysis and discussion 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 Structure, Function and Replication

This analysis and discussion activity can be used to introduce your students to key concepts about DNA structure, function and replication or to review these topics. This activity includes hands-on modeling of DNA replication. 

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes. The Teacher Notes provide background information and instructional suggestions and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

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. 

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 analysis and discussion 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.

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 analysis and discussion 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. This activity provides a useful basic understanding of cellular respiration and provides an important conceptual framework for students who will be learning the complex specifics of cellular respiration. This activity concludes with a brief introduction to two important principles: conservation of energy and the inefficiency of energy transformations. 

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes. The Teacher Notes provide background information and instructional suggestions and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

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.  

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