activities for teaching biology

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. This activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

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 analysis and discussion 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. The Teacher Notes provide background information and instructional suggestions and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.  

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

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