Tag Archives: evolution

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!


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.


Mr K

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!


Mr K

Science: The History of the Future

Good morning.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S13651 / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S13651 / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org /licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend and colleague Steve Loschi passed along the following Radiolab podcast last night. In our current grade 10 chemistry unit, we’re challenging students to reflect on ways that chemistry has changed our world. The story of Fritz Haber’s work is not only a great example of how scientific inquiry has had a massive impact on human society – some would argue that Haber’s discovery is the greatest discovery in human history – it’s also an intriguing tale of humanity and unintended consequences. Have a listen.

Mitochondrial eve discovered! (Well, a close relative of hers, at least.) ‘Mitochondrial eve’ is the name given to the theoretical common ancestor of all humanity. The DNA in mitochondria don’t replicate or mutate the same way as ‘normal’ DNA in cellular nuclei, and it’s also inherited solely from the mother. This inheritance pattern means that it’s the most reliable way to trace genealogical relationships in people. Awesome.

And while I’m on the topic of historic science, I have to bring up Nikola Tesla, who I think is one of the coolest and quirkiest scientists ever. According to this post, here are 10 of Tesla’s inventions that have changed our lives:

Nikola Tesla portrait via The Oatmeal.

Nikola Tesla portrait via The Oatmeal.

  1. Alternating current
  2. Indoor lighting
  3. X-rays
  4. Radio
  5. Remote control
  6. The electric motor
  7. Robotics
  8. Lasers
  9. Wireless communication
  10. Limitless free energy!

Here’s another link to Tesla’s story, but be warned: it’s distinctly NSFW and gets consistently blocked by my school’s web filter. Regardless, it’s a great and entertaining tale by the creative genius behind The Oatmeal comic.

Tanzania in the science headlines?!?

I can’t remember the last time Tanzania made the science news. Maybe during the Leakeys’ days working at Olduvai Gorge, unearthing the history of early hominids? In any case, it’s a rare event, but some archaeological work in southwestern Tanzania just made the science news in one of America’s biggest papers: the Los Angeles Times

Tanzania dinosaur

Image from screen capture: LA Times Science Now, 10 September 2014.

It turns out that gigantic herbivorous terrestrial dinosaurs roamed this part of Africa about 100 million years ago, when Africa and South America were part of a large supercontinent called Gondwana. The article also nicely summarizes how the fossil record continues to boost our understanding of the process of evolution by natural selection. Give it a read.

Happy learning!

Thursday Science News Update

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted here, due in large part to a hectic work week as I still settle into the new school year. In words from my 12-year-old son describing the start of his year, “When you get hit by a train, it’s not the caboose that kills you.” I’m sure he got that from a book somewhere, but I don’t which one.

Today is just a quick update on some of the news stories I’ve been following this week, a few of which I’ve tweeted out @bradleymkremer.

“The history of life on Earth is a history of extinction.” These are the words that summarized Discovery’s article asking “How Advanced Are We Earthlings?” It examines the interaction of how civilizations need time to develop and evolve, much like living organisms.

We haven’t seen any Ebola here in Tanzania, but this is a story I’ve been following with some interest for the past few weeks. I’ve had a bad feeling for a while now that this outbreak seems to be bubbling and simmering long enough that it will elude containment efforts, and it seems that there are a number of public health officials who feel the same way. Here’s the story from National Geographic.

A paper was just published in Nature Communications (subscription required, or pay-per-read), outlining how some researchers have developed bacteria to synthesize propane, essentially creating the possibility of renewable petroleum product. It sounds like a paradox, but is worth investigating further.

So that’s my news summary of the day. I’ll try to get back with some more video resources in my next post.

Happy learning!

For Your Periodic Viewing Pleasure…

More video resources today. I’ll keep this up until I have exhausted my subscription list on YouTube. For more science-related content, be sure to check my Twitter feed, which I’ve also embedded on the mrkremerscience.com homepage.

Screen shot - Periodic Videos

Screen shot of the Periodicvideos.com homepage.

Brady Haran is a supremely entertaining master of chemistry at the University of Nottingham, and he posts new videos every single week on his YouTube channel called Periodic Videos. (It’s a play on words! Get it?) Mr Haran claims that his channel is “Your ultimate channel for all things chemistry. [It includes] A video about each element on the periodic table.” He’s also got an excellent related website by the same name, which shows the most recently updated element videos. You can have lots of fun with this channel.

SciShow is another YouTube channel worth checking out. The host Hank Green “discusses science news, history, and concepts,” which means it’s more than just how-to science. SciShow includes analysis, interviews, and storytelling “with equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm.”

Last but definitely not least is one of my favorite online resources for exploring biology and life science. John Kyrk is a Harvard-trained biologist and artist living in California, USA. He specializes in making Flash animations for science, and they are incredible. Please check out his website, JohnKyrk.com. My personal favorite is his evolution animation, which shows the history of all the elements and living things since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago! 

Screen Shot - Kyrk Evolution

Screenshot of John Kyrk’s evolution animation.