Click on Java the Tree Dragon (RIP) to head on over to the facebook page. i-Biology is for MrT‘s current (and former) IB Biology and MYP Science students. Find out more on the About pages. Please read and adhere to these guidelines on fair use and consider a donation to charity via my gift list at Biology4Good.

i-Biology.net has not yet been updated for the new IB Biology subject guide (first exams May 2016). Resources and guidance on IA and 4PSOW posted here currently are not suitable for this new guide. For an outline of my plans, please click here

 

Disclaimer: this is a voluntary project not endorsed by the IB. Teachers must use their judgment and the most up-to-date advice in subject guides and reports before making use of materials here. 

Ebola: What’s Going On?

Ebola is making headlines at the moment – in this task we’ll learn more about how it works and what is being done to stop it. Refer to this excellent resource from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). These short videos also give some background.

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Goal: Produce a poster, blog post or short presentation to communicate accurate information regarding Ebola.

Role: You are science communicators.

Audience: Your peers – high school students and teachers.

Scenario: Ebola is making the news in a big way – and so is misinformation about it. You need to find and present accurate information about Ebola, including potential risks and what is being done to combat it.

Product: Large visual poster, blog (500 words with media) or short presentation (4-5 mins).

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Required information

  1. Describe the pathogen of Ebola, including type of pathogen, characteristics and ‘behaviour’.
  2. Outline the effects of Ebola on the patient: symptoms, damage, cause of death.
  3. Outline how Ebola is transmitted, including risk factors for transmission.
  4. Explain why patients who survive Ebola infection become immune to future infections.
  5. Describe current treatments for Ebola, including their effectiveness.
  6. Describe how an outbreak of Ebola might be controlled.
  7. Outline how a vaccine for Ebola might be created.
  8. Evaluate the current level of ‘panic’ about Ebola. To what extent is it justified in our context?
  9. Define any new or technical terms used (or discovered in your research) for the audience.

Going Further

  • Compare Ebola and other viral infections.
  • Discuss the origins of Ebola, including how it is thought to have become able to infect humans.

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Teacher Notes

  • This could be used to reinforce the diseases unit.
  • Students should be vigilant on student use of resources: there are many conspiracy theories out there clouding the issue.

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Harvard Stem Cells Breakthrough: Diabetes

This recent news from Harvard is a perfect fit for the IBBio course, connecting lots of what we have learned in the course. Watch this short TED Talk from Prof. Doug Melton on how they are using stem cells to create new insulin-producing beta cells. Then read this article from the Harvard Gazette on the most recent developments in their work.

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Goal: Produce a poster, blog post or short presentation to communicate Melton’s team’s breakthrough, including connections to the IBBio course.

Role: You are science communicators.

Audience: Your peers – high school students and teachers.

Scenario: Stem cells and diabetes are both headline-grabbing stories. As we develop more treatments for diseases using stem cells, the public need to be well informed of the reality of what is happening – and inspired by the future.

Product: Large visual poster, blog (500 words with media) or short presentation (4-5 mins).

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Required information

  1. Explain that Type 1 diabetes is “an autoimmune metabolic condition in which the body kills off all the pancreatic beta cells that produce the insulin needed for glucose regulation in the body.” [article, paragraph 14]
  2. Outline the usual treatment needed for type 1 diabetes.
  3. Outline the properties of stem cells.
  4. Explain how stem cells differentiate to become differentiated cells.
  5. Describe the work of Melton’s team to create beta-cell lines derived from stem-cell lines.
  6. Outline the proposed treatment for type 1 diabetes through implanting the newly-produced beta-cells.
  7. Discuss any caveats or limitations to the method.
  8. Discuss any ethical implications for the use of stem cells in this manner.
  9. Define any new or technical terms used (or discovered in your research) for the audience.

Going Further

  • Distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
  • Evaluate whether this method would be as effective for type 2 diabetes as for type 1, with reasons.

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Teacher Notes

  • This could be used to teach part of the homeostasis topic once students know about stem cells, or as a review tool for later in the course.
  • Students should refer to the subject guide to check their use of terminology and to regulate the depth of explanation.

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Connecting Type II Diabetes

Here is Doug Melton talking about how we might use hormones to treat Type II diabetes:

Where do new genes come from?

Here’s a neat little TED-Ed Lesson by science writer Carl Zimmer (follow his blog, The Loom, on evolution).

How NOT to be ignorant about the World: Hans & Ola Rosling

Another great Hans Rosling TED Talk, this time with his son, Ola. Here Dealing with misconceptions, bias, ignorance of global issues and a little formative assessment, they discuss how we can be better informed about the world, with a fact-based world view… and how we could (eventually) perform better than chimps on a global issues quiz.

This would make a great provocation for a TOK unit, or one in Geography or a Global Issues group. In our field of international education it might be useful for parent and teacher training, considering why we need to educate for global understanding, not just for disciplinary knowledge. Through a fact-based world view, we can develop truly internationally-minded, globally-engaged young inquirers, who recognise their biases and know how to learn more about the truths of the world we live in now and into the future.

I love the suggestion they have of a “global knowledge certificate” for agencies, schools and employers that is based on candidates taking a test on the fact-based world view. You read about the ignorance project here on CNN, or find more classroom resources (including a world-view card game) on Gapminder’s education page. The Guardian also has a selection of global development quizzes, which you can take for fun or in class.

IBDP Sciences Investigation Cycle

This is an attempt to capture the internal assessment descriptors (for the new guide) in a format similar to the MYP’s Experimental Cycle and Design Cycle diagrams. Click here to download a higher-quality .svg file for poster printing

IBBio Experimental Cycle

Beautiful and sad GIFs that show what’s happening to the ocean

Stephen:

The gif images illustrate some of the damage we’ve done to the oceans. Slow clap, humans.

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

Scientist Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent the past five decades exploring the seas. During that time, she’s witnessed a steep decline in ocean wildlife numbers – and a sharp incline in the number of ocean deadzones and oil drilling sites. An original documentary about Earle’s life and work premieres today on Netflix. Watch it here.

Below, four ocean infographic gifs from the film.

What happened to the coral reefs?

Between 1950 and 2014, half of the coral reefs across the oceans died.

What happened to tuna, sharks, and cod?

Mission_Blue_gif2_256_99_0_600Between 1950 and 2014, Pacific Bluefin Tuna, sharks, and North Atlantic Cod were all almost fished to extinction. Between 5% and 10% remain.

The number of ocean deadzones then and now:

Ocean deadzones are spots in the sea where life no longer exists. They occur when massive fertilizer runoff (or other ocean crises) set in motion an oxygen-depriving chain of events…

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#SharkWeek Fail. Some Sharky Remedies*.

Over the last couple of years, Discovery’s #SharkWeek event has taken a beating for producing pseudoscience and spectacle over actual educational output that will help shark conservation. From CGI-lame Megalodon junk (they’re extinct already) to ‘Voodoo Sharks’, serious shark-science educators are getting annoyed. Sadly it seems that some of the scientists who appear in the “documentaries” have been duped into taking part, or misquoted: see this piece by David Schiffman (@WhySharksMatter). 

Fortunately, there is a lot of actually good content out there. This year, Emily Graslie (@ehmee, scientist, YouTuber and focus of perhaps one of Cosmo’s only proper articles ever), has created a series of five shark videos to entertain… and educate! 

*Remedies for bad science. Not remedies made of sharks. That would be is bad

Quick Review: Tony Butt’s Guide to Sustainable Surfing

Stephen:

A quick review of a quick read: if you’re into surfing or the outdoors, this is worth your time (and is very cheap).

Originally posted on i-Biology | Reflections:

Dr. Tony Butt

This quick read (74 pages,£0.87 on Kindle) is worth an hour or two of your time, especially if you’re into surfing or outdoor pursuits and are concerned about the environment. Tony Butt is a big-wave surfer and has a PhD in Physical Oceanography; his educational columns on Surf Science in Surfer’s Path magazine (and his book on the same) are excellent primers on waves, surfing and the environment.

In this text, Dr. Butt sets out to describe how we impact the environment as surfers and how we can make choices that can mitigate these impacts. He makes connections between the issues of Energy, Travel and Stuff related to surfing, highlighting the unsustainable nature of the jet-setting, product-hungry, WCT-inspired modern surfer. Of particular interest are issues of embedded energy and product life cycles, which you may recognise from Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff series…

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Ecosia – the search engine that helps plant trees

Thanks to David Faure for pointing this out. 

Have a go at Ecosia, a search engine that donates 80% of its profits to reforestation projects in Brazil. Find out more about how this work on this page, and give it a go!

Try Ecosia now. You can add it as a Chrome extension, too.

Try Ecosia now. You can add it as a Chrome extension, too.

Surviving the Peace: Mines Advisory Group

Suport the Mines Advisory Group

We support the Mines Advisory Group

As global tensions appear to heighten, it is is easy to get sucked into side-taking on facebook, twitter or other media, yet this is rarely helpful. There is nothing to be gained by sharing yet another horrific photo or vitriolic screed to elicit comments from your followers. As compassionate, educated global citizens we should look instead for ways to support those who are making a positive difference.

Here’s my example.

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) started in a caravan in my hometown of Cockermouth in the UK, and has blossomed over the last two decades into a major worldwide organisation dedicated to making war-torn areas safer by surveying and removing landmines and unexploded ordnance. They were co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for their work on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and are well-deserving of all the funds we can raise.

Check out their 23-minute film, “Surviving the Peace“, which focuses on Laos and outlines how they work and the lasting impacts their work has on the lives of survivors of war. If you want to support them, please make a donation via my Biology4Good page for MAG, on JustGiving.

And here is a more recent video on “Surviving the Peace: Angola“:

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A challenge to i-Biology users

Use your online influence to share links to organisations that focus on protecting our environment or alleviating suffering. I have eight examples on my Biology4Good fundraising page, and you might want to do something similar. Tell the world why you care about their cause and how they’re making a difference. Maybe even work it into a CAS project.

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