HS Biology

Website for the active class for 13/14: Quarks and Quirks Biology

Here’s the updated (8/13) version of my high school biology curriculum. I taught a version of this course in 2009/2010 to my older son, then 12, and his 13-year-old friend, and this year, I’ll bring it to my younger son, now 12, and his buddy. Throughout the year, I’ll develop question sets for some of the Campbell chapters that will emphasize what I wanted my students to learn. I’ll be rewriting tests, to which I’ll also provide links. We met for two to three hours a week, splitting our time between labs, review of end of chapter questions, and a bit of lecture on topics from the chapter, a step designed to foster note taking skills. 

Biology is a huge, complex area of study. I’ve chosen a primary text (Exploring the Way Life Works) because it takes that complexity and organizes it into themes. I’ve complemented and supplemented that material with the Campbell book and numerous video links. This course is heavy in cellular biology, genetics, mammalian anatomy (with a bit of comparative anatomy), and evolution. It contains little invertebrate biology, botany, and ecology, not because those aren’t important but because there just wasn’t time. They are, to some extent, woven into other topics, but they don’t receive weeks of their own.

This is not intended to be a course heavy in massive memorization but rather a class to introduce the fundamentals of biology in a way that stresses comprehension of the themes of life. While we cover some challenging topics for a first-year (as opposed to AP level) biology course, such as cellular respiration and types of enzymes, memorization of molecular details and equations is never the goal. Deeper understanding of how life works is the focus, as is an ability to read science and understand what one is reading.   If you have questions, I’m glad to answer them.  Please report all broken links or errors to sdamacleod at sbcglobal dot com.

Blog Posts Specific to This Class:

Primary Texts:

    Exploring the Way Life Works:  The Science of Biology (Mahlon Hoagland, Bert Dodson, Judy Hauck)
    Biology:  Concepts and Connections (Campbell, Mitchell, Reece) This is the 5th edition, but any will do, although you’ll have to search the concept in the edition you have.
    Biology Inquiries (Martin Shields)
    Various readings from Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Charles Darwin, and others from The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology (Pub. by Great Books Foundation)
 Bozemanscience lectures appear throughout the course. The site’s Biology course provides fine instruction on a variety of topics and could be used more extensively for areas needing clarification.
(Reference is made to  Biology Coloring Workbook (I. Edward Alcamo, PhD.), which may be a useful study tool for some learners.)
NOTE: All readings, websites, and assignments should be done before class meets.

Week One

Readings:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works: Chapter 1
  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections:  (Sections 1.7 and 1.8 )

Websites:

Assignments: 

  • Bring in something to view under the microscope
  • Print and read through the lab below, Microscope Lab. Bring it to class.

Class:

Topics: Microscope use, independent variable, dependent variable, controls, experiment design, hypothesis, scientific method

Materials: Microscope (4x, 10x, 40x. No oil immersion lens/100x needed), microscope slides, cover slips, pipettes, transparent ruler with millimeter markings, cork, razor blade or microtome to cut cork

Week Two

Readings:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Ch. 2, Sections 1-7
  • Campbell: Chapter 4 (A Tour of the Cell)  This is optional but would be a fine way to understand the parts of the cell and their functions. Pick away at it over a few weeks, if you’d like.

Websites: 

Assignments:

  • Answer the questions at the end of Chapter 1 in “Exploring the Way Life Works”.  Answers should be in complete sentences and typed.
  • Complete the Inside a Cell handout carefully.
  • Submit all of your microscope lab, including the answers to any questions not finished in class.
  • Review your notes from the previous week.

Class:

Topics: Parts of the cell, cells size, surface area to volume ratio, DNA, patterns in living things

Materials: Microscope, slides, cover slips, toothpicks, pipettes, iodine

Week Three

Readings:

  • Campbell: Passive transport (5.14),  facilitated diffusion (pg. 5.15), Osmosis (5.16), Water balance (5.17)  and Active transport (5.18). Also Osmoregularion (25.4)
  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 2, sections 1 -7 (review if needed – no new material here)
  • The Andromeda Strain (Michael Crichton), selection (from Biology Inquiry, pg 70)  Think about this question:  What do you think the point Leavitt is trying to make?

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Start working on the questions at the end of Chapter 2  — they’re due week 5!
  • Continue to study the parts of the cell and their functions.
  • Create your own model of either a plant or animal cell, either 2D or 3D, in whatever medium you like. Include a key. Be complete, and be ready to explain the function of every part of your cell model. DUE: WEEK 5

Class:

  • Investigating Osmosis in Plant Cells (Biology Inquiry, pg 88)
  • Discuss The Andromeda Strain selection

Topics:  Cellular structure, osmosis, diffusion, active transport, passive transport, water’s importance in life, hypertonic, hypotonic, isotonic, semipermeable membrane

Materials:  Elodea leaves (waterweeds, found at pet stores and aquarium shops or online) or purple onion, salt, distilled water, microscope, slides, cover slips, scale (weighs to the gram), graduated cylinder, pipettes or eye dropper

Week Four

Readings: Exploring the Way Life Works — finish Chapter 2

Websites: 

Assignments:

  • Write up lab report on Investigating Osmosis in Plant Cells (full lab report)
  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 2 questions, 1 -10

Class: 

  • Diffusion Lab (Biology Corner) or Diffusion Lab (Menlo School — more involved)
  • Questions from chapter 2 reviewed

Topics: osmosis, diffusion, water’s role in life, feedback loops, optimization, cell size.

Materials: Plastic baggies, corn starch, water, iodine. If using Menlo School lab, also dialysis tubing, sugar, Benedicts Solution

Week Five

Readings:

Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 3, pg 87-107

Websites:

  • Crash Course Biology Lecture #1 (Chemistry review) NOTE: Carbon is portrayed as a tramp, which may not be acceptable language for some families. This comparison is brief and visually tame, but be warned.)
  • NPR Carbon Series: Watch this series on global warming but focus on carbon – how it bonds, how life is based on it, what happens when bonds are broken and formed, and how carbon

Assignments:

  • Diffusion lab full lab report
  • Exploring the Way Life Works Chapter 2 questions, 11 -20
  • Cell model is due. Remember to make a key to your model or label all the parts. Be ready to explain your model in class

Class:

  • Chemistry review
  • Discuss Chapter 2 questions
  • Life or Death Food Chain Decision (Biology Inquiries, pg 174 – 177)

Topics: Ionic and covalent bonds, basic chemistry, nerve impulse conduction, food chains, trophic levels

Materials: None

Week Six

Readings:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 3, pg. 108-117

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Complete Chapter 3 questions
  • Write a full lab report LAB PENDING.

Class:

Topics:  ATP, herbivores, carnivores, photosynthesis

Materials: Game board prep for game, two identical plants, one kept in the dark for 24 hours, isopropyl alcohol, hot water bath

Week Seven

Readings:

  • Biology Concepts and Connections — If you want to read all the biochemical details about photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and glycolysis, read chapters 6 and 7. This is optional, but you will need some of this information to answer the questions on photosynthesis and cellular respirations below.

Websites:

  • Cellular Respiration Lab  (Pearson LabBench virtual lab) Go through the whole thing– key concepts, lab, quiz.  Take your time and LEARN from the process!

Assignments:

  • Answer and submit both sets of questions on photosynthesis and cellular respiration using your notes and your textbooks.
  • Start to study for your test, which is due at the start of class on Week 9. Review your notes, your labs, and your textbook, and make sure you understand all the terms listed under the ‘topics’ heading for each week. Bring your questions!

Class: 

  • Yeast/respiration lab (Bubbling Yeast from My Science Box)
  • Review questions

Topics: Cellular respiration, glycolysis, fermentation, autotrophs, heterotrophs

Materials: Pipette (not micro tip), small washer, yeast, test tube large enough to hold pipette or centrifuge tubes or 100 mL graduated cylinder, sugar, bromthymol blue.

Week Eight

Readings: 

  • Review previous read material

Assignments: 

  • Exploring the Way Life Works Chapter 3 questions
  • Yeast and fermentation lab write up, with all questions answered

Class:

Topics: review

Materials: 4 glass beakers or vials, tape or Sharpie for labeling beakers or vials, elodea or other water plant, small snails, parafilm or sealing plastic wrap, bromothymol blue. Note: The snails are unharmed by this lab.

Week Nine — TEST 1 DUE

Assignments:

  • Study your notes and review everything from the ‘topics’ section at the bottom of each lesson.  When you’re ready, print out Test 1 in the files section.  Take the test (no notes, no books, no website) in one sitting.
  • Lab Report on Elodea and Snail due. Answer ALL associated questions in your conclusion.

Class:

  • Chargaff’s DNA Data (Biology Inquiries, pg. 121-126)

Topics: DNA, genes, base paring

Materials: None

Week Ten

Reading:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, 4.1- 4.7
  • The Double Helix (selection) by Watson in The Nature of Life

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Answer the content and application questions from Double Helix reading. This is a tricky assignment. Take your time. We’ll discuss the Thinking Critically questions in class

Class:

Topics: spontaneous generation, Pasteur, genes, nucleotides, base pairs, Watson and Crick

Materials: Green split peas, blender, salt, water, liquid detergent (not soap), meat tenderizer, rubbing alcohol, straw or wooden stirrer to collect DNA

Week Eleven

Reading:

  • The Way Life Works, 4.8 -4.15

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Answer the questions for Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 4
  • Find a topic on genetics that interests you and submit that topic for approval. You’ll be researching the topic and writing a short essay about it, so find something you like. You may want to look around the Learn. Genetics. site we’ve been using, or start on the New York Times’ page of genetics links. Stem cells, gene therapy, cloning, genetic disorders, genetic counseling or just about anything current are fair game, but pick a subject with controversy and look for material to support the main arguments about the topic. Email me when you have a topic idea, preferably as early as possible. You each need a different topic.

Class:

  • Review Exploring the Way Life Works Chapter 4 questions
  • Discuss genetics project
  • DNA: The Double Helix (Biology Corner)

Topics: DNA replication, genomes, DNA repair, mutations, RNA, mRNA, transcription

 

Week Twelve
Readings:  
  • Exploring the Way Life Works:  Chapter 5
Websites: 
Assignments:
  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 5 questions.
  • Genetics outline and sources due. Provide the links (for online material) and/or source information (print) for your resources. You must have at least three resources for this assignment. Your outline can be formal or informal but should contain a thesis (what you’re writing about), at least three main areas of discussion.
  • Finish the answers to the questions from DNA: The Double Helix if not completed in class

Class:

  • Reading DNA (Teach. Genetics.) (You’ll need to build some DNA first from Have Your DNA and Eat It, Too. This lab should be done first, or simply build the DNA before the class,)
  • Discuss genetics project
Topics: amino acids, proteins, translation, ribosomes
Materials: black licorice sticks, colored marshmallows, toothpicks, colored circle cutouts (see handout), tape, scissors,

Week 13

Readings:

  • The Selfish Gene (selection) by Richard Dawkins in The Nature of Life
  • Campbell: Cloning and stem cells (11.10, 11.11, and 11.13), Cancer and mutations (11.16, 11.17, 11.18)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Answer the content and application questions for The Selfish Gene. 

Class:

Topics: cloning, stem cells

Materials: None

Week 14

Readings:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, Chapter 8 with focus on 8.1 through 8.15

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Submit the first draft of your essay via Google Docs. If you’re done earlier in the week, send it along. I’ll send feedback quickly after receiving it.

Class:

Topics: Mitosis, meiosis, haploid, diploid, chromosomes,

Materials: Allium root slide (Biology Set of slides from Home Science Supplies is an excellent purchase and will be useful throughout the course.) Prepare printed materials and pipe cleaner chromosomes from Mitosis and Meiosis on the Table lab.

Week 15

Readings:

Websites:

  • Final draft of genetics essay is due.
  • Read through Inherited Traits, A Quick Reference (see readings). Then look at your family and family pictures. What do you see? Take a few notes on what you see, noting any trends. Also, if your immediate family knows their blood types, bring in that information.

Class:

Topics: Mendel, alleles, genotypes, phenotypes, recessive and dominant alleles

Materials: Blood Typing Test Kit

Week 16

Readings:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, 9.10 -9.24

Websites:

Assignments:
  • Start studying for Test 2 (Genetics), which will be due week 17
  • Basic Genetics: Monohybrids and Dihybrids (Biology Corner): Use your textbook to work on these questions. You will likely need additional paper to draw out the punnett squares.
Class:

Topics: Incomplete dominance, intermediate phenotypes, crossing over, sex-linked disorders

Materials: None

Week 17:  TEST 2 (Genetics)

Reading:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 6
Assignments:
  • Study for your genetics test. Take the test without notes, books, or any references, then submit it in class.

Class: 

  • Potato Bubbles Lab (Biology Inquiries, pg 73)
Topics: Allostery, enzymes, receptors, regulatory proteins, active sites, Feedback loops, homeostasis, positive feedback, negative feedback, ecological feedback loops
Materials: Potato, hydrogen peroxide, beakers (50 mL) or other clear container, razors or knives to crush potatoes, test tubes, matches and wooden splints, access to boiling water,beef liver, starch powder
Week 18:  — SCHEDULE A SECOND MEETING A FEW DAYS AFTER THE FIRST TO VIEW COLONIES

Reading:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, 15.10 and Chapter 16

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Do a bit of research on bacteria in the news on this page of The New York Times. Pick two articles no more than a year old and summarize them in under 100 words. Bring the articles and your summaries to class and be ready to discuss the articles you chose. If there are concepts in the articles you don’t understand, do some research to further your understanding.
  • Potato Bubbles Lab full lab report
  •  Answer the Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 6, questions

Class:

  • Using prepared agar plates, culture various places around the house (pet water bowl, kitchen floor, faucet handle, etc). Prepare two from each location.  Label the plates and place one of each location in the incubator to be checked in a few days. On the others, add  four to five squares soaked in different solutions you hypothesize with limit bacterial growth. Use the same four or five for every plate.) Then add those to the incubator.  MAKE PREDICTIONS about where the most growth will occur and what solutions will be the most effective In a few days, examine the plates WITHOUT OPENING THEM. Draw and describe what you see — number of colonies, number of different colonies, amount of growth overall. Write a lab report about your lab, your findings, and what might be a way to study the bacteria in your home further. (For more information on safely studying bacteria at home and preparing plates, as well as for more support for this lab, see Bacteria Science Project Guide and Bacteria Experiment Kit Instructions)
  • Go over questions from Chapter 6, Exploring the Way Life Works
  • Discuss the articles you found

Topics: Domains of life, prokaryotes, bacteria, pathogens

Materials: Homemade incubator (In a warm home, this may not be needed, but be sure to keep everyone away from the petri dishes and expect growth to take a bit longer.), plastic petri dishes, liquid agar, sterile cotton swabs. Prepare petri dishes ahead of time.

Week 19:  SCHEDULE A SECOND MEETING A FEW DAYS AFTER THE FIRST TO VIEW COLONIES

Readings: 

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, The Immune System (Ch. 24.1-24.4, 24.16, 24.17)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Lab report for the lab on the survey of bacteria in the house. In your conclusion, note where you found the most growth and speculate why. Also, consider what actions might be taken based on the information you found.  Include the definitions of antiseptic and antibacterial.
  • Research assignments (antibiotic resistance, antibiotic use in farm animals, bacteria on and in our bodies, etc). Find three articles on your subject and write a one page informational essay about your topic.

Class: 

  • Prepare agar plates for antibiotic sensitivity lab.  You can either use single bacterial cultures available at Home Science Tools (For antibiotic discs, see Home Science Tools, and for more ideas on experimentation, see their Bacteria Science Project Guide) or your own cultures from around the house, although you’ll not know what you were killing.
  • Share your information from your research assignment.

Topics: neutrophils,  macrophages, inflammatory response, lymphatic system, autoimmune disorder, immunodeficiency, allergy

Materials: prepared petri dishes (number varies depending on students) Antibiotic discs (Home Science Supplies) or antibiotic samples dissolved in water on small pieces of blotting paper, household cleaners (if exploring their efficacy — see link above), incubator, either a known bacteria (see home science supplies, and also buy an inoculating loop and have a source of a flame to sterilize it) or sterile cotton swabs. Bleach for disposal of plates.

Week 20

Readings:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections (Chemical signals coordinate body functions, (26.1), Hormones affect target cells (26.2), Overview; The vertebrate endocrine system (26.3), Diabetes is a common endocrine disorder (26.8)
  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, Structural adaptations (20.1, Animals regulate their internal environment (20.13), Homeostasis depends on negative feedback (20.14)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Lab report on antibiotics. Consider how the information you discovered in this lab might impact how a health care provider would choose an antibiotic for a patient.

Class: 

  • Activity — Feedback Loops (Life Sciences/HHMI Outreach Program)  — Found under Physiology heading in right-hand column.
  • Prepared slides of protozoa, algae and examination of pond water or aquarium water

Topics: Feedback loops, homeostasis, positive feedback, negative feedback, ecological feedback loops, asexual and sexual reproduction, thyroid and pancreas function, diabetes, basic intro to endocrine function, hormones.

Materials: Printed material from Feedback Loop PDF, pond or aquarium water, prepared slide set, microscope

 

Week 21: 

Readings:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections: Unifying Concepts of Animal Structure (Ch. 20) and Nutrition and Digestion (Ch. 21)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Do a bit of research in your Campbell book and whatever sources you would like to answer your assigned question. Be prepared to briefly teach us about that topic during class. (Suggestions: Where is water absorbed and secreted in the digestive tract? What nutrients and vitamins are absorbed in the small intestine, and what would happen if your small intestine was damaged? Not all animal have exactly the same digestive tract or way of extracting nutrients. Discuss three very different animals and explain those differences.)
  • Complete the questions for Chapter 20 and 21. (Google Documents)

Class:

  • Look at different tissues under the microscope. Draw what you see.
  • Digestive enzyme lab (Chose from the following: Cabrillo or Amylase on Starch)

Topics: Amylase, lipase, pepsin, digestion process, types of tissue (epithelial, muscle, connective, nerve)

Materials: 

  • Callibro:  Variety of foods and beverages that mix with water (no oily, dark, or acidic foods), pipettes, test tubes, test tube rack, 0.5% CuSO4, 10% NaOH, egg white, distilled water)
  • Amylase on Starch: cornstarch, distilled water, saliva, vinegar, benedict’s qualitative solution, 3 graduated cylinders (10 mL) or three large test tubes, 250 mL beaker, stirring rod, test tube rack, source of hot and cold water and a container to serve as a water bath

Week 22

Reading:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, Ch. 22 (Gas Exchange) and 23 (Circulation)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Research question of the week — be ready to teach us about your topic! (This week, each student should pick a disease of either the circulatory system or the respiratory system and be prepared to teach about it.)
  • Complete lab report on digestive enzyme lab
  • Study and complete the circulatory system with pages from the Biology Coloring Book on the heart, circulatory system, and respiratory system..

Class:

  • Discussion of cardiovascular and respiratory system.
  • Examine the effect of exercise on resting pulse rate.  How fast does your pulse return to normal?
  • Daphnia Heart Rate lab (choose: Biology Corner, Ward’s, or Nuffield Foundation. Daphnia are a small crustacean available via Home Science Tools and other scientific supply sites.)

Topics: Circulatory system (mammalian), respiration, gills, hemoglobin

Materials: Daphnia (eggs or live. If using eggs, prepare ahead according to directions), welled slides, microscope, distilled water. For Ward’s, also thermometer, ice, cover slips, petroleum jelly, access to warm water, petri dishes. For Nuffield Foundation, same as Ward’s plus ethanol  (1% and 10%), any other chemicals that might affect heart rate, such as caffeine, epinephrine, or any number of prescription drugs. Be careful.)

Week 23

Reading: 

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, Control of the Internal Environment (Ch. 25)

Websites:

  • Printing a Human Kidney (TED talks)
  • Web Anatomy: This page leads to various self-tests on anatomy. So far, we’ve covered the endocrine, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and circulatory systems. Clicking on those systems will take you to a page with a variety of quizzes. Use these for study of the anatomy of these systems. These are only human anatomy. We’ve covered variations on non-humans, so don’t forget to study those, too. There is no need to do them all. Do what helps you.
  • WebAnatomy Single Player Games: (Require Java plug-in) Some of these games (the more general ones) may also be helpful as you study.

Assignments:

  • Study the anatomy of the human kidney and excretory system by completing the corresponding pages in the Anatomy Coloring Book or the Biology Coloring Book.
  • Start studying for Test 3 (Systems: digestive, circulatory, respiratory, excretory, a bit of endocrine, immune, and reproductive.  Bacterial studies.). The test is due Week 25
  • Daphnia heart rate lab report

Class:

  • Sheep heart dissection. Fish dissection. Kidney dissection

Topics:  Thermoregulation, osmoregulation, kidney/bladder anatomy and physiology

Materials: Sheep heart or pluck, perch, sheep kidney, dissection kit and tray (all at Home Science Supplies)

Week 24

Readings:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, Chapter 27
  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 7 (Much of this information will seem familiar, as we’ve touched on it in other weeks.)

Websites:

Assignments:

Class:

  • Review of organ systems for test.

Topics: sexual and asexual reproduction

Materials: None

Week 25: 

Readings: 

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, The Nervous System, Ch. 28.1 and 28.2

Websites: 

Assignments:

  • Study for and take Test 3 on the anatomy and physiology so far.

Class:

Topics: reflex arc, nervous system, CNS, PNS, spinal cord, sensory neuron, effector cells, motor neuron, interneuron, sensory receptor.

Materials: reflex hammer or other firm rubber or plastic for striking the knee or Achilles tendon, bright light, index card, pencil, ruler,stopwatch, eye shades or blindfold

Week 26

Readings:

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, The Nervous System, Ch. 28 (the rest of the chapter)

Websites:

Assignments:

Class:

  • Mammalian brain dissection.
  • Discuss nervous system

Topics: Synapse, parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, anatomy of the brain

Materials: Sheep brain, dissection pan and kit

Week 27

Readings: 

  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, The Senses, Ch. 29

Websites:

Assignments:

Class:

  • Senses Lab (This is more of an exploration of the senses than a lab. It can be used in whole or in part, with explanations of the senses as you go. Read through ahead of time and pick a few from each sense, unless you have tons of time.)

Topics: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, special senses

Materials: Snellen chart (printable online, although you may need to change the distance you stand from it), Ishiharsa’s color blindness tests, black paper, colored dots or pieces of paper (red, blue, green, orange, yellow), sheep’s eye for dissection, dissection kit, tuning fork, cotton to plug ear, substances to sniff and guess, three different flavored candies, 2 sharp pencils or pins,

Week 28

Readings:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 8.1-8.
  • The Descent of Man, selection (Charles Darwin) pg. 68-79
  • Campbell, Concepts and Connection, How Populations Evolve (13. – 13.4)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Answer content questions and application questions for the Darwin selection (and the last application question will take some research!) Look up terms you don’t know. Take your time, and work to find strong answers.

Class:

  • Dissecting Frog Evolution (Biology Inquiries, pg 157)
  • Discuss Descent of Man reading

Topics: Darwin, natural selection, origins of life,

Materials: Frog for dissection, dissection tray and kit

Week 29

Readings:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 8.9- 8.16
  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, The Origin of Species, Chapter 14 (sections 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 13)

Websites:

Assignments:

Class:

Topics: gene pool, genetic drift, causes of evolution

Materials: paper plate, cup, bird seed, raisins, rubber bands, paper clips, tools (tweezers, clothespin, toothpick, hair pin)

Week 30

Readings:

  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 8.17 – end
  • Campbell, Concepts and Connections, Interactions with animals have profoundly influenced angiosperm evolution (17.13)

Websites:

Assignments:

  • Finch Beak Lab write-up
  • Exploring the Way Life Works, Chapter 8 questions
  • Study for Neurology and Evolution test

Class:

  • Discuss the Chapter 8 questions
  • Briefly discuss whether humans are still evolving in preparation for Are Humans Still Evolving? (Biology Inquiries, pg 150) to be due week 31

Topics: Coevolution, convergent evolution, microevolution, macroevolution

Week 31

Assignments:

  •  Are Humans Still Evolving? (Biology Inquiries, pg 150)  essay due.
  • Neurology test DUE

Class:

  • Discuss essays
  • Review ecology from the rest of the year in preparation for the NY Regents Living Environment exam, due in one week.

(If time and energy remain, we’ll move onto some ecology study. If we make it that far, I’ll post the sessions here. If not, I’ll just have to design a second biology course. )

61 thoughts on “HS Biology

  1. Thank you so much for sharing all of your work!! You are generous and thorough!

    Can you tell me which edition of “Biology:Concepts and Connections” you used?

  2. I love your schedule! I’m looking at using Hoagland with my son for bio, too. You don’t happen to have the tests you made up for this class available to share by any chance, do you, pretty please?

    Thanks,

    Regena McConnell

  3. Thank you so much, Sarah! I have been through a couple of computer crashes since I used Hoagland with my older son. It would be so helpful not to have to reinvent the wheel with regard to doing this study again with my younger son. I appreciate it,

    Regena

    • I’ve added a secondary resource link, The Nature of Life, which has the three reading selections that didn’t have links before. The boys weren’t terribly interested in the readings at that age, but they’d be delightful for students a bit more older or just more interested.

  4. We decided we are going to use your schedule and your resources~ are the tests on the website all the tests you used for the course? Really find this to excellent and very helpful! thanks for any help or input.

    • I wrote my own tests, Tracey. They consisted of a few short answer questions and plenty of questions requiring longer answers (they were tough tests). They were not easy exams. I have the first three available, if you’d like them. I never wrote out the answers, however, so borrower beware.

      Addendum: Tests are on the resource page of the MacLeod Biology website linked at the top of this page.

  5. Hello. I love your plans for Biology- this is just what we were looking for and the books we will be using. I will be using it with a very bright sciency 15 years old sophmore ( I think it still looks like a good fit). One question: what did you use for your labs- I see there are many write-ups scheduled but I wondered if you have a schedule for the labs?
    Thank you so much for your great resource!
    Kristie

  6. Answered my own question! (I just went through the syllabus much more thoroughly!) I am quite excited for next year (just have to get through the rest of this year’s labs!).

    Krisite

    • I do realize there are some gaps in those labs, now that I’ve looked at it. I put those lessons up as I went along, and I did wing it a bit, forgetting to add the information to the syllabus. I’ll try to fill it in a bit more over the next week.

      • One more question: do you think, in your opinion, that this makes a solid highschool bio course (I think it is good myself)?
        Kristie

      • I think it does. It’s not an AP class (and wasn’t designed to be), but we counted it as high school biology. My father was a Biology professor in the Pennsylvania state system, and it withstood his standards for a good HS class. He noted that some the test questions were harder than what he’d be able to ask (and receive quality answers from) his freshman college biology classes. I took that as a ringing endorsement. That said, I value (as does he) deeper understanding of connections and concepts over vast memorization of facts. Like I said, it’s not AP Bio.

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    • I started with the text and lab book noted above and searched the web for the rest. I enjoy biology and have a fair amount of education and experience in the life sciences, which helped.

  9. Hi! I’m a PA too, teaching my 9th grade son and two friends Q&Q biology- we love it!
    I have a few questions about projects and labs. (suddenly I’m not following things clearly)
    In week 18 you mention that the kids develop a project on bacteria, week 19 there is a lab report for the survey of bacteria in the house, and to write up information on assigned topics. Be prepared to present your information. Also there’s a lab on cleaning supplies.
    Do you have links to the project and the labs? What “assigned topics” are you talking about?
    Is there a general website you use for the remainder of the course for labs, or did you create your own?
    Thanks so much for this great curriculum!
    Jennifer

    • Good question. I wrote this curriculum with no plan of anyone needing to follow it but my two students and myself, so there are many holes. I continue to be surprised at how it took off.

      They had to plan their lab on surveying bacteria around the house, which was mostly choosing sites to survey. One took the edge of the guinea pig cage, the computer keyboard, and the bathroom sink, for example. Then, on agar, they had to plate samples from these sites, label the samples, and put them in the incubator. (Never open these samples except to pour bleach in them at the end of the lab, and then you should just a crack with gloved hands and good ventilation. You will grow out pathogens.)

      Looking at week 19, I’m realizing I need to look back at my son’s lab reports. and see what we did. I remember some, but it was four years back. I’ll get back to you soon.

  10. Thank you for the Link! I was wondering why you chose the NSY Regents exam. Is this a test that anyone from any state can take, or would you take your state’s exam (ie, from the DOE)? What do you think about AP exams?
    Appreciate your ideas !
    Jen
    p.s. Do you still work as a PA?

    • You’re welcome. I use the NYS Regents exam for benchmarking. They didn’t take the test for credit, but rather took a previous year’s exam while sitting around the kitchen table. My father, a college Biology professor with plenty of experience with the NYS Regents, seconded that it was a fine benchmark, which reassured me that is was a decent standard to follow. I wasn’t concerned about that with either Chemistry or Physics as there is a more common set of skills and knowledge in a standard course. I didn’t want to teach biology as a memory task, although there were things to memorize, and I preferred to focus on connections and higher order thinking skills with plenty of inquiry. This is quite different than the focus of the AP Biology exam (and I wrote about my feelings on that here.) Overall, I’m not a big fan of the AP. My older will likely not take any, although he will sit for some SAT Subject Tests. My younger may be interested — I’ll leave that up to him.

      I do still work as a PA, albeit very parttime, in a private family practice. I’m due to recertify this year, and I need to start paying attention to that!

      Sarah

  11. Ur blog, “HS Biology | Quarks and Quirks” 6sc was indeed definitely worth
    writing a comment on! Really wished to mention you truly did
    a remarkable work. Thanks for the post -Sherman

  12. This was an answer to a prayer for me. I’m doing high school biology this year with my 13yo but I didn’t want to use Apologia which so many are pushing. This seems more complete and much more interesting!! Thank you! Thank You!

    • You are welcome. Don’t be thrown off by the holes after week 14. Those are in the process of being fixed, and I should have it all organized by the end of next week. Plenty of links were broken, so I’m reworking it a bit. I hope to create material lists for the labs, but that may take a bit longer. If you have questions along the way, let me know.

      Sarah

  13. Sarah,
    Thank you so much for posting this, and the updated curriculum. It’s made 9th grade Bio with ADHHHHD son so much easier to plan. I love the text you’ve chosen, so very engaging for a visual learner!

    One note: as I was going through the revised syllabus, I noticed that some of the reviews of chapter questions don’t seem to be matching up with when the questions are being done. For example the discussions of Ch. 2 questions happen while they’re still working on Ch.2. I’m thinking that the reviews of the questions should be after they finish them? Or is there a method to your madness?

    The labs you’ve found are spectacular and easy; thank you!!

    Based on DS’ learning style of leaping first and asking questions second, we’re doing some of the easy labs from Biology Inquiries (Bacon Diffusion, What is Life, etc) first, before ANY study. The idea is to pique his interest and keep this as hands-on as possible. I thought I’d mention this modification for those who have kids who are bright but really kinetic in their learning styles.

    Your syllabus is such a gift, thank you for sharing.

    • You’re most welcome. I’ll be checking for flow problems like you’ve mentioned when I settle on an order, but my quick look hasn’t found any. (If you find a specific one, let me know. Please!) As you move further through the year, I deviate more from Exploring the Way Life Works simply because it doesn’t cover the scope of what I want my kids to have that year. So sometimes, the reading for that chapter is more of an introduction to a set of ideas, expanded on my Campbell and the websites. Thus why the question sets for the chapters don’t always come immediately before the next new material. I do love the Exploring text with its big idea approach, but some of the ideas need a bit more support, and the Campbell helps with that. Overall, however, I keep the focus on understanding the larger “way things work” and avoid getting mucked up in memorization tasks of facts, which I don’t think stick years down the road as bigger ideas.

      I like you idea of starting some hands-on before starting. My two this year had me for Physical Science last year, and from that experience, I know they also need tons of hands on to keep their brains online. Today, I’ll meet with both of them and talk about observational skills and give an assignment there. If it ends up worthwhile, I’ll write it up here.

      Always feel free to ask questions, note inconsistencies and errors, and make suggestions throughout the year. Thanks!

      Sarah

  14. Thanks for this syllabus. You mentioned that you are working on a Lab Supply list. How is this coming or should I just begin clicking through all the links and compiling my own? This is the only component of this syllabus that intimidates me- I want to make sure I have all the materials.

    Also, about how much prep time each week should I plan on? I am excited about this course – it looks more interesting than the one I had originally planned to teach.

    • EDITED COMMENT 8/27/13: Material lists are complete!

      Prep time varies. I actually lecture on and discuss some of the main topics, so the week before, I read the chapter and take some notes. I will be updating the “topics” section as I go along, as it may serve more as a “where we went” than anything else. Prep for most of the labs is quite minimal (read it over and have the materials on hand). I’ll sheepishly admit I generally review the lab and get materials out at 8:30 am when class is at 9.

      Keep the questions coming!

      Sarah

    • I’m actually using that with my older son, who had a version of the class outlined above four years back. The Illustrated Guide a good book, but it has a different bent than I am looking for in biology. I like the inquiry style, and since we use many of the labs from Biology Inquiry, those labs are a better match. Also, my content is more molecular, cellular, and anatomy based, and the Home Biology Labs lean more to ecology, botany, and various classifications of life. Finally, the materials for most of the labs in my syllabus are more familiar to the homeschooler. While the kit offered via your link is great, it still might be intimidating to the non-sciencey home educator. Finally, my kids have been ready for high school level content by age 12 but haven’t had the manual dexterity for some of the work in the Illustrated book. (Alas, we are truly all thumbs here.)

      All that said, it’s a fine book, and many labs could be selected to match up with the plans I’ve outlined. I did use the Illustrated book for chemistry (see those plans above) and for electronics (which my older son did on his own). Good stuff, they are.

  15. What an amazing curriculum! I have a few questions… you mentioned above that the lab materials supply list are complete. I see that each lab has materials, is that what you meant? I was looking for a complete list for the course. What kind of microscope do you use? Did you buy it specifically for the course? Where do you buy sheep brain? Dissection kits? Etc?? I was totally ready to order the 2 books (used from amazon, that would be okay, right?) until I saw the extent of investment needed for the labs. I have 3 boys — 2e, as well. This is our first year homeschooling so I just want to make the right choices and not get in over my head. I am an educator so I’m not concerned about “handling” the content. Thanks for all you’ve done. Look forward to hearing from you.

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad to hear you like it. The equipment for labs is listed separately for a few reasons: First, it allows families to opt out of a lab (or choose between a few, as occurs in the later weeks) and only shop for what they need. Second, it allows flexibility for me down the line. Links to labs break, and some of the labs I used four years back don’t exist anymore. Having a list for each week makes for easier changes.

      After the microscope purchase (and I think this is a valuable addition to any homeschool), the costs are reasonable for a high school science course. Home Science Tools is my go-to site for almost all materials (including dissection materials, as noted in the notes on the first dissection), and this microscope is similar to the one we have.

      I do hope that helps!

      Sarah

  16. Hey I am loving this biology lesson plan so far but I have a tiny problem that you may be able to help with. I bought an older edition for The Way Life Works and I was able to line up which readings on your lesson plan belonged to which pages in my earlier edition but there are no questions at the end of the chapters in my edition – questions which you refer to in the lesson plan. Any ideas on how I could get those questions?

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  18. Sarah,
    Tests? Where do I find the tests, and what week they are supposed to be given in?
    Having a blast with this!
    Lisa

    • The test weeks are labeled. The tests for this updated version of the course are unwritten. Well, they will be similar to when I taught four years ago, but I’ve changed the order a bit. I will be glad to share them when ready.

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  20. I got the SAT II Biology E/M prep book with the intention of having DS take the test at the end of this course. Looking at the difference between E and M, I’m thinking this course is a better match for the M (molecular) test. Just my 2 cents!!

  21. Do you have the answers to the tests or are we suppose to go back and fill in a test ourselves with the answers. I am not a natural science kind of a gal so this stuff is probably as hard for me as it is for my son.

    • I don’t, and while that’s a goal, it’s not yet been realized. I do understand this is a problem for those not going through the course with their child or who are uncomfortable with biology. Some day, I may get that job done!

      • I did create an answer key for the first test but it took me a while to make sure I had everything right. So I looked for test #2 so I could get started on that one but I don’t see the link anywhere. Is one made up?

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  23. Hello. Thanks so much for generously offering this course and resources. I will be using this with my 9th grader this school year. Just had a quick question about sat subject tests. Do you feel this course is adequate prep for the test? I plan on buying a review book for use. Thank You!

    • You’re most welcome! It’s a fun class to teach, and the kids liked it as well. I can’t speak to that, as my students were 12/seventh grade at the time they took the course, and that just wasn’t our aim at that point. I’d pick up the review book and take a look. It’s more molecularly geared than environmentally, so I’m betting it leans more to the M version. If you go this route, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  24. Hi,
    I had planned on having DS do the Subject test, but didn’t in the end. The subject test requires doing work in memorizing the classification system, and the various organisms that populate each area of the classifications. Too much memorization. This curriculum doesn’t cover plants, ecology or populations in depth enough.

    In the end, we decided against taking the test, because it would have taken the fun out of this curriculum. If you decide to work towards the test, you need a good prep book (I recommend Princeton, we used it for some supplemental work) because it’s clear and spunky. Be prepared for much more heavy lifting in terms of memorization.

    Lisa

    • Lisa,

      Thanks for that update. I designed it with more molecular focus than environmental, so I’d assume the M SAT would have been a better fit, but given what I don’t push is memorization of long processes, I’m not surprised it’s a poor fit. When I taught it the first time (in only slightly different form), I relied on conversations with my father, a now retired Biology professor. He emphasized understanding the patterns in biology and the thinking of science rather than long lists to be memorized. It was those long lists (especially taxonomy) that I despised in college. Given I don’t remember those details but I did recall more overarching content and patterns, that was more fuel for teaching the course as I did.

      Frankly, I find the environmental end more easily accessible on one’s own, thus why I chose the molecular bent. I worked a good amount of it through the course (and it is at the end of each chapter in The Way Life Works), tying together pieces at the end, but this is what got short shrift overall. My students had come upon environmental knowledge naturally in their self-education and independent reading, and filling holes wasn’t hard, although we certainly didn’t go to the level of detail that would be needed for the SAT II.

      Thanks for the information! I’ve been wondering.

      Sarah

  25. Sarah,
    The patterns and overall “story” of biology on the molecular level worked for me and DS. I really enjoyed the course! I learned a lot too! The long lists of memorizing would have turned off DS really quickly, and created a lot of strife. That wasn’t the point. What it did was give him an appreciation for how everything works together, that life is a holistic system, and that it’s interesting to know what makes things work on a molecular level.

    Thank you for creating this wonderful syllabus!

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  27. If anyone wants to do this curriculum, I have everything you need for it: TWO copies of the main bio text, 1 copy of each of the other texts, microscope (highest power is damaged), plus the Princeton SAT II prep book AND a set of prepared slides (includes the onion tip slide, which takes some of the work out of slide prep.) I’ll throw in our copy of the Kingfisher DNA book too. We did this curriculum in 13/14, and there’s no one in my area that wants all our stuff. I’d be happy to sell it to you for $50 plus shipping to your area (The $50 will roughly cover the cost of having had all the materials shipped to me!) I’ve got the bromide blue, too. I’ll triple wrap that so it doesn’t spill.

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