Category Archives: IBDP Biology

A Plastic Ocean. Genuinely Terrifying.

Streaming now on Netflix and available through other means, A Plastic Ocean is a terrifying (but well done) feature-length documentary on the rapidly growing crisis in the oceans as a direct result of human impacts.

IB Bio and ESS students will find many curricular connections in this movie, from food webs, water cycles and ocean currents to animal behaviour, biomagnification and endocrinology. Including the impact on human and animal health, this film raises and alarm and shows where we’ve gone wrong. There are some really insightful sections of scientists at work, where we can see “how we know what we know” and what actions are being taken. The final section has some fascinating solutions and actions. Give it a go.

Tanya Streeter, world-record freediver, narrates and is featured in much of the film. Her TEDx Talk tells a similar story.

Taking Action

Ocean plastics have really come into vogue the last couple of years, and it is a safe bet that someone near you is involved in taking action. From beach cleans, reef surveys and cleanups to campaigns to ban single-use plastics (chapeau, Costa Rica), plastic is clearly one of those issues that is indisputably – embarrassingly – human made.

What’s your school doing to reduce the scourge of plastic?

 

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Chasing Coral

Beautiful and terrfiying in equal measure, this is a good new documentary on Netflix for thinking about the relationships between human actions and ocean health, as well as some good technical stories of collecting footage and data. Great visuals and explainers for symbiosis and how the corals “work”.

8 Mind-Blowing Optical Illusions

Here’s nine neat minutes from Sci Show on illusions – classic and modern – that will be of use to those studying Option A: Neurobiology & Behaviour.

 

Before the Flood: The Science is Clear, the Future is Not.

New from Leonardo DiCaprio and National Geographic, Before the Flood is a compelling and powerful climate change documentary. Where are we in the world right now with our understanding, challenges and potential solutions. What actions need to be taken right away?

The full movie is was available initially for free on YouTube, and their action website hosts more resources for use in class or discussions. Click here for other platforms where you can view, rent or buy the movie.

 

PaperPile: Managing Citations in GoogleDocs

I have been looking for something that can replace MS Word’s citation manager and work in a similar way to Zotero. Here’s a quick post on how to use the PaperPile add-on for managing references in GoogleDocs. Paperpile is free from the Chrome store, though I am using the upgraded version.

Making the Invisible Visible: Climate Change & CO2

This is very neat video from NASA, showing carbon dioxide changes over time, with annotations. See a breakdown 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).

IBBio: 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

 

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