Category Archives: IBDP Biology

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

 

#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

Summer Learning

Summer holidays are here!

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That means travel, rest, play, sun, sand, surf… and significant learning loss.

Here are some suggestions for a productive summer.

With eight weeks off, there’s a lot you can do to make next year more successful.

1. Unbroken rest.

Block out at least two full weeks with no school work. Let your mind wander, your health recover and your sleep be deep. Reset your balance, get active and maybe even try something new – and non-academic. You will feel better and be better able to focus on the challenges of next year. If you try to do a little work each day, it will always be in the back of your mind, causing stress.

2. Focused Extended Essay work

The Extended Essay is supposed to take around 40 hours of effort. That’s one full Monday-Friday working week. Set aside some time, with peace and the resources you need, to write the best draft you can. If your EE is causing you stress, get it done sooner in the break – you will be better able to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

3. Review this year’s learning

Once you have rested and recovered, set aside a full day or two to focus on Biology. Go through your notes, work on vocabulary, make connections across topics, practice questions from the book, re-read the chapters or presentations, watch (or re-watch) the CrashCourse videos, use the sortable syllabus to practice the assessment statements, practice drawing, labeling and annotating. There is a strong positive impact of spaced practice on learning, so taking the time to review will help make your foundation stronger for next year.

4. Read about science for fun

Science is far more than the list of assessment statements we study in class. It is a fast-moving pursuit of knowledge that connects ideas from around the world and across the disciplines. And there is a lot written about science every week. Dip into the science news, read longer articles or pick up a science book. You’ll enjoy it and it will help you make more connections.

As you read science, think about the following questions:

  • How does this connect to what I already know?
  • What vocabulary is important in this text? How much is known or unknown to me?
  • What are the implications of this information for science or the wider world?
  • What Theory of Knowledge questions does this connect to? What questions does it raise?

Some suggestions for summer reading:

Have a great summer.

And keep that brain Fresh…

 

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