Tag Archives: life science


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!


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

What’s on the Biology Quiz?!?

Image Credit: by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator, via school.discoveryeducation.com

Image Credit: by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator, via school.discoveryeducation.com

I’ve heard this question a bunch of times already this week, and it’s only Tuesday morning! If you’ve been paying attention in class, you should already have a pretty good idea of what will be on the quiz. If you haven’t been paying attention, I’m going to give you a couple of hints in this post.

Quiz Dates

  • 9A + 9C: Friday 4 October
  • 9B: Monday 7 October

Quiz Format

  • Criterion C1: Explaining Scientific Information
  • Level 1-2 Questions: Matching definitions with vocabulary, labeling diagrams
  • Level 3-4 Questions: Identifying and correcting True/False statements
  • Level 5-6 Questions: Describing and explaining scientific concepts.

Quiz Topics

  • Cell structure and function
  • Biological molecules
  • Ecological pyramids
  • Food webs
  • Trophic levels

Biological Molecules

Well, today was a little wacky, with no electricity or projector, class photographs in the middle of one class, and virtually no air circulating in my room to make for a hot hot hot day at school. Add in the noise and distraction of holding class in the courtyard, and we have….well, we have a bit of a mess.

Just so we’re all on the same page of the biology unit, I thought I’d summarize the key points from today’s lesson on biological molecules. Below are the finer points of the lesson.

The 3 major functions of all biological molecules

  1. Instructions
  2. Energy storage
  3. Source of energy

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.02.57 PMCarbohydrates

  • chains of C, H, and O
  • supply all energy in cells and food chains
  • energy tends to be short-term energy (glycogen)
  • simple sugars such as glucose may build more complex molecules
  • some long chains of sugars, such as cellulose, are used for cellular structure

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.03.49 PMLipids

  • do not dissolve in water
  • long chains of C, H, O, and P
  • have more bonds than carbs, so they’re used for energy storage
  • slow release of energy
  • saturated fats: all single C-H bonds, tend to be solids
  • unsaturated fats: some C-C double bonds, tend to be liquids (oils)
  • Image credit: http://www.uic.edu

    Image credit: http://www.uic.edu

    phospholipids make up cell membranes and have two main parts:

    • a phosphate group at one end, which is polar (charged), meaning it is hydrophilic
    • the hydrophobic hydrocarbon tails


  • most important biological molecule
  • many functions in organisms:
    • enzymes
    • structural components (building blocks)
    • hormones
    • antibodies
  • made of chains of amino acids
  • only 20 amino acids make all the 1000’s of proteins in the world


  • made of C, H, O, P, and N
  • 3 parts of each nucleotide:
    • nitrogen base
    • sugar
    • phosphate
  • Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.03.33 PM

    4 different nitrogen bases to know: A-C-G-T (shown at right)

  • several functions in organisms:
    • chemical messengers
    • coenzymes
    • carry energy from one part of a cell to another
    • build nucleic acids
  • two kinds of nucleic acids:Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.03.20 PM
    • DNA: sequence of nucleotides makes up the genetic code of an organism
    • RNA: translates the code into specific proteins

And finally, the slides from class…



Plants and Animals: Cellular Differences

Plants and animals are both eukaryotes, meaning they have distinct nuclei. (Bacteria, by contrast, are prokaryotes, which means they don’t have a nicely organized nucleus.)

Plants and animal cells have many other similarities: ribosomes, mitochondria, chromatin, cell membranes, smooth and rough endoplasmic reticula (ER), vacuoles, and Golgi complexes, among some other organelles we’re not studying in this unit. However, there are some fundamental differences between plants and animals on a cellular level:

  • cell wall in plants
  • chloroplasts (plastids) in plant cells
  • large central vacuole in plant cells
  • centrioles in animal cells
  • some differences in the structure and function of the Golgi complexes

Watch this video for a nice summary, and please do click on the links he posts at the end for a deeper explanation of the topics he covers.

The following video is a bit more ‘scientific’ and uses some nice computer animation to tour plant cells. It’s worth a quick watch, too.


Organizing Life

Now that we’ve spent some time getting to know our key vocabulary in the biology sequence, let’s start to delve a little deeper into the links and relationships among those words.

The Cell Theory is one of the foundational ideas behind all of biology, and it is something you must be familiar with before starting any future classes in bio. There are 3 main postulates to the Cell Theory, which I’ve listed below.

  1. All living things are made of cells.
  2. All cells come from pre-existing cells.
  3. The cell is the smallest unit of life.

Even though all living things are made of cells, not all cells are alike. Living organisms are classified into 5 kingdoms of life based on differences in their physiology and cell function. I think the link above and the image below nicely summarizes the way we classify living organisms.

In this unit we’ll look at one of the key distinctions among Earth organisms: the differences between plant and animal cells. The notes packet and diagrams you received in class contain the “official class notes” on this topic, so don’t lose them! You might also find the following items somewhat useful: