Tag Archives: biology

Welcome!

Source: WikiJournal of Science

I’ve created this site for my students as well as teachers and learners of science around the world. My intention is to share engaging content-specific resources as well as general guidance for science learning and scientific communication. The tabs across the top of the page take you to pages dedicated to IB Biology, IB Environmental Systems and Societies, and MYP Integrated Sciences. Much of the content on those pages also applies to science classes which are not a part of the International Baccalaureate Organization structure, though the assessment criteria are specific to the IBO’s Diploma Program and the Middle Years Program.

Below, you’ll find a few resources which I think are some of the most valuable for my students, and which I want them to come back to regularly. This is where you’ll find guidance on writing lab reports, creating data tables and graphs for data analysis, and developing presentations to effectively communicate about science. You’ll also find a list of digital resources for science, which I update regularly as I unearth new tools that I think will benefit students’ learning, as well as previous blog entries (from the days when I had more time to write).

How to Write MYP Science Reports

How to Create Scientific Tables and Graphs

How to Effectively Communicate Scientific Knowledge

Digital Resources for Science

Happy learning!

Mr K

Ecology resources for students: Part 1

Good afternoon!

I’m back with another set of bookmarks for students and teachers. Because I’ve taught the IB Environmental systems and societies course for several years, this set of online resources is closest to my heart. Some of these links are here simply because I think they’re cool or fun. Many may also be applicable for studying biology and chemistry as well. Let’s get to it:

Happy learning!

Cheers,

Mr K

Biology resources for students: Part 1

Good morning!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been updating various pages within my website, and as I work, I keep encountering all these different websites and digital resources I’ve bookmarked over the years. My bookmarks bar is organized by broad scientific subjects: astronomy,biology, chemistry, ecology, and physics. I’ve also got a folder dedicated solely to scientific games. I will share the resources in these folders in subsequent posts, organized by subject area. Once posted in the blog, I’ll then add all bookmarks to the general science pages in my website, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to share them with the broader global community as well. I have so many of these resources that I’m going to have to split the list into two parts – the bookmarks from my Chrome browser and those from Firefox.

Today: biology resources for students (and teachers!) in no particular order.

  • The Cell: Basic Unit of Structure and Function by McGraw-Hill. Animations, quizzes, flashcards, and other resources aligned with their Human Anatomy textbook. Links to other chapters can be found in the sidebar.
  • Bioman Biology. Interactive biology games on a variety of topics, including physiology, cells, ecology, genetics, evolution, DNA, respiration, and photosynthesis.
  • Carbon cycle animation from the University of Alberta, Canada. A simple but comprehensive flow chart (system diagram) of the global carbon cycle.
  •  InstaGrok interactive concept maps. Pre-made concept maps showing links between a whole bunch of topics in general biology. Click on a term to see links to other biology topics, facts, websites, videos, images, or add your own notes.
  • Cells Alive! This site has been around for years. Good, easy-to-understand interactive cell models.
  •  DNA video from NotCot.org. A beautiful 3 minute animation explaining DNA for BBC Knowledge from Territory.
  • John Kimball’s online biology textbook. This guy has been teaching biology for decades, and he’s amassed an incredible amount of resources on his site around every conceivable topic in biology. It’s kind of an old-school site, but it’s thorough.
  • Learn.Genetics at the University of Utah, USA. I use the tutorials from this site extensively in my genetics and evolution units.
  • Bozeman Science biology playlist on YouTube. 76 videos! 76! This playlist contains videos that could be useful in AP Biology, IB Biology, Biology, and other life sciences, all from the amazing Paul Andersen.
  • Mitosis World Home at University of North Carolina, USA. An aggregate of several other biology resources.
  • Discover Biology animations from W.W. Norton & Co. High-quality animations that can be viewed straight through, step-by-step, or narrated.
  • Interactive transpiration animation from ScienceMag. Adjust plant parameters and environmental conditions to see different effects on the movement of water through plants. With some creativity, you could run a virtual lab from this animation.
  • Understanding Evolution at the University of California – Berkeley. Densely packed with information and thoroughly researched. I use this site as a main reference for my evolution units. The site has been around a long time and is showing its age, but it’s still highly useful.
  • Sex determination video at TED-Ed. One of many useful resources from the TED people. Includes a review quiz and discussion questions.
  • Biology for Life. A great website from Gretel von Bargen at Skyline High School in Washington state, USA. It follows the new IB Biology syllabus. Also linked to her Twitter feed. I use this site a ton.
  • Bioknowledgy. Probably my favorite site for IB Biology. Chris Paine in Shanghai has created an extensive library of resources and materials aligned with the new IB Biology syllabus. Includes presentations, videos, and guided revision questions, among other resources. Awesome!

I hope that’s a good start for now. If you find any helpful resources you think I’ve missed, please send them my way in the comments, and I’ll add them to the second batch.

Cheers!

Mr K

Excited for ESP

We are rapidly approaching one of my favorite things about my job: the Extended Studies Program, or ESP. ESP is our school’s “week without walls,” when students and teachers leave the comforts of classrooms and campus and travel to different parts of Tanzania to learn about and experience the people and ecology in those locations.

Each year, students in grades 6 through 11 spend a week in one of an awesomely diverse locations around Tanzania:

  • 6th graders go to Zanzibar for an exploration of art and architecture, reef and mangrove ecology, and a history of the east African slave trade.
  • 7th graders spend a week in the Uluguru Mountains on a service learning trip with the Waluguru, the only matrilineal ethnic group in Tanzania.
  • 8th graders venture to Amani Nature Reserve, where they experience the differences between managed and natural forests, as well as night hikes searching for rare species of chameleons and frogs (my personal favorite).
  • 9th and 10th graders have several options for their ESP trips:
    • Mountain biking in the Usambara Mountains
    • Service trips in Arusha or in a Maasai boma
    • Hiking in Lushoto district
    • Trekking across the Ngorogoro Crater Highlands
    • Ecological monitoring at the Makatube Island Marine Reserve
    • Service work on the Chem-Chem school project
    • Morogoro photography
  • IB1 students in grade 11 engage in a field course for biology and geography

In my opinion, these kinds of trips provide the most engaging educational experiences our students will get during the school year. There are no worksheets, no essays, no problems to solve, no presentations to make. Students push themselves, and teachers push them, in ways that are generally not possible during lessons. The interconnectedness of different fields of study becomes evident while out of the classroom – the impact of climate on agriculture, which in turn influences economics, culture and family structure, which then have further knock-on effects on music, literature, and politics.

ESPs are wonderful because of their ‘big picture-ness’.

Welcome to the new school year!

Welcome – or welcome back – to another exciting year of learning about science!

After recharging my internal batteries on an extended safari with my dad and brother, followed by a couple of weeks in Italy with my children and my mom, I’m energized for the upcoming school year. It’s time to get started on what should be an exciting, innovative, engaging year for myself and all the students in my classes.

We’ve overhauled the grade 8 science curriculum since last year, which means that this year we’ll be studying astronomy, chemistry, electricity and magnetism, and plant adaptations – a nice mix of sciences that will hopefully offer a little something for everyone.

Grade 10 science is broken into the three ‘classic’ sciences of chemistry, physics, and biology, with units on stoichiometry, sound and light waves, and genetics and evolution, respectively.

This year is particularly intriguing for me as I make the transition from teaching the Diploma Program’s Environmental Systems and Societies course for the past 7 years to my first year teaching IB Biology. It will be fun to apply some of my “teaching bag o’ tricks” to a new subject.

Let’s get started!

Cheers

Mr K

Genius Hour is Back!

Good morning! It’s been a long time since I contributed anything to this blog apart from some tweet links, but I have good reason to return: My grade 10 students have finished the latest iteration of their Genius Hour projects. They  chose between biology and physics and were given 20% of all lessons to work on a topic of personal interest. Below, you will find a selection of some of the work I’ve received.

A look at HIV immunity and genetics:
http://www.powtoon.com/embed/ew8K9zLRDug/

Sleep disorders:

Using the electromagnetic spectrum to communicate:

Albinism in Tanzania:
http://albinismtanzania.weebly.com/

The Value of Experiential and Outdoor Education

Good afternoon.

I just returned to Dar es Salaam from our school’s Extended Studies Program (ESP) – a “week without walls” – in Amani Nature Reserve of the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. The 8th-grade students who accompanied me got to experience one of my favorite parts of this country, a location rich with endemic plant and reptile species, as well as a climate and geography radically different from the hot, steamy coastal zone where we live.

During our time in Amani, we encountered quite a few unique creatures and plants, including forest cobras, Fischer’s chameleon, the Usambara 3-horned chameleon, pygmy chameleons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, 20 species of African violets, army ants, the pregnancy-test frog (really!), tree frogs, colossus crickets, swallowtail butterflies, forest moths, damselflies and dragonflies, trumpeting hornbills, the African fever-tree, and a lot more tree species than I can possibly remember. We also studied craters on the moon and watched Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons climb across the night sky while we were in camp.

Apart from my personal interest in biodiversity, mountains, astronomy, and forests, there is real value in taking students ‘out there’ to see and experience a part of the world they might not otherwise visit. These kids live fairly posh lifestyles here in Dar, and putting them in tents for a week really stretches some of them. They develop a greater appreciation for the ease and comfort of home, and they confront – briefly – firsthand the challenges of living off the land in tropical Africa.

They also get to do things we can’t do in a classroom: feel the way a chameleon grips your skin as it climbs up your arm, observe the dark bands in Jupiter’s atmosphere, try to decipher the code of flashing firefly lights in pitch darkness, listen to owls call across a primary forest, chase frogs as they try to escape into chilly ponds and streams, and feel the microclimate changes in light, temperature, and humidity between tropical forest and farmland. Adding these first-hand sensory inputs reinforces classroom lessons and clarifies what may be highly abstract concepts for a lot of students who spend most of their days indoors. Plus, they’re just plain fun most of the time (apart from the army ants).