activities for teaching biology

Cellular Respiration and Breathing

The questions in this worksheet/discussion activity help students understand the relationship between cellular respiration, O2, CO2, and breathing. The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes.

Understanding the Functions of Proteins and DNA

This overview provides a sequence of learning activities to help students understand that proteins and DNA are not just abstract concepts in biology textbooks, but rather crucial components of our bodies that affect functions and characteristics that students are familiar with. Students learn about how proteins contribute to the digestion of food and how different versions of a protein can result in a characteristic such as albinism, sickle cell anemia or hemophilia. Then, students learn about the relationship between the genetic information in DNA and the different versions of these proteins. The discussion, web-based, and hands-on learning activities presented are appropriate for an introductory unit on biological molecules or as an introduction to a unit on molecular biology. This activity is aligned with NGSS standards.

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

Macromolecules Jeopardy

This game reviews introductory chemistry, including organic compounds and chemical reactions.

Introduction to Osmosis

This activity begins with a student investigation of the phenomenon of osmosis and then moves to analysis of the mechanism and implications of osmosis. In Part I, "What is happening to these eggs?" students observe and analyze the effects of osmosis on eggs. In Part II, "Understanding Osmosis", analysis and discussion questions introduce students to the molecular basis for osmosis and challenge students to apply their understanding of osmosis to several real-world phenomena.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Who Took Jerell’s iPod? -- An Organic Compound Mystery

In the lab, Who Took Jerell’s iPod? -- An Organic Compound Mystery, students learn how to test for triglycerides, glucose, starch, and protein and then use these tests to solve a mystery. The activity reinforces students understanding of the biological functions and food sources of these different types of organic compounds.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

What Parts of a Plant Do We Eat?

In the lab, What Parts of a Plant Do We Eat?, Students review the structure of angiosperm plants and learn about the diversity of plant form by using evidence from examination of fruits and vegetables to identify which part of the plant each fruit or vegetable is.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

Alcoholic Fermentation in Yeast

In the lab, Alcoholic Fermentation in Yeast, students learn about the basics of aerobic cellular respiration and alcoholic fermentation and design and carry out experiments to test how variables such as sugar concentration influence the rate of alcoholic fermentation in yeast. In an optional extension activity students can use their yeast mixture to make a small roll of bread.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

Studying Our Senses

In the lab, Studying Our Senses, students investigate how a person identifies different flavors of jellybeans, including the contribution of smell to taste sensations. Students also explore the surprising ways the brain interprets the patterns of light and dark that reach our eyes; visual illusions illustrate general principles of sensory processing. 

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

Breathing and Holding Your Breath

In the lab, Breathing and Holding Your Breath, students begin with interactive activities to develop a basic understanding of why cells need oxygen and need to get rid of carbon dioxide, how the circulatory and respiratory systems cooperate to bring oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from cells all over the body, and how the nervous system regulates breathing. Then, students carry out an experiment to test whether changing levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide influence how long they can hold their breath. 

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Regulation of Human Heart Rate

In the lab, Regulation of Human Heart Rate, students learn how to measure heart rate accurately. Then students design and carry out an experiment to test the effects of an activity or stimulus on heart rate, analyze and interpret the data, and present their experiments in a poster session. In this activity students learn about both cardiac physiology and scientific method.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

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