Category Archives: Human Health & Physiology (Core & AHL)

I Contain Multitudes: Antibiotic Resistance

The wonderful Ed Yong now has a YouTube channel, I Contain Multitudes, that builds on his book of the same name. With PBS Digital support and great visuals, this is going to be a treasure trove for IBBio learners.

Here’s your gateway video: on superbugs and antibiotic resistance. Check out the experimental design and explanation about half way in. Thanks Ed!

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:

Ed Yong’s TED Talk: Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales

“Are there any parasites that are influencing our behaviour without us knowing it?”

When I started this blog back in 2007, Ed Yong was a fledgling science writer gaining an audience with his Not Exactly Rocket Science wordpress blog; clear and engaging online articles that opened up primary research to a wider audience. You’ll find many links to his writing throughout this site, connecting the concepts of the IB Biology course to current science and ‘the wow beat’. He has since had a book and is resident at NatGeo’s Phenomena Salon, after moving through Science Blogs and Discover.

He continues to inspire me as a writer and this week he gave his TED Talk, a funny and fact-packed tour of the sinister side of parasites. Enjoy! You will even be able to find some links out to further reading and references.

If you don’t already, you should subscribe to the Phenomena blogs, and if you’re a teacher or student whose schedule are as packed a mine, I highly recommend Ed’s weekly ‘Missing Links‘ roundup of science news and writing – they make for my Sunday morning reading!

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Hope HIV

Thanks Kasia from Hope HIV for getting in touch and sending this video, that outlines the great work that they do with the donations people make. They focus on the idea of ‘using who you are to make a difference,’ which is perfect for IB students and teachers. Visit this page in particular to see some stories of people that they have hope in – and then if you feel like making a donation, please visit my JustGiving page for Hope HIV here.

For more resources on HIV and how it connects to our curriculum, visit the page for 6.3 Defense Against Infectious Disease here.

And this one outlines their amazing work and growth since 2000.

Updated: Gas Exchange, Transport System, Digestive System

As the new school year starts, we’re launching right into the human body and its systems – always thinking about how structure relates to function and how homeostasis is maintained.

First up, 6.1 Digestion, 6.2 Transport System and 6.4 Gas Exchange. Visit each of the pages for resources, including animations, presentations and Crash Course Biology videos. My class, we’re flipping this content, so complete the Quia quizzes before class.

HBO’s The Weight of the Nation

This full four-part HBO documentary series is online in full on the HBO Docs YouTube Channel. Although aimed at a US audience, the messages are universal. The website for the series has lots more related short clips and resources that might be of use in class.

For more resources on Energy in Human Diets, go to the Option A: Nutrition and Health resources.

Part 1: Consequences

Part 2: Choices

Part 3: Children in Crisis

Part 4: Challenges

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My Rant

Kudos to HBO for making this available on YouTube worldwide.

For what it’s worth, I think all TV production companies should be hosting their documentaries – especially those on important social and environmental issues – online for free. At the very least, make episodes available for a minimal ($1?) purchase fee on iTunes.

I bet most people wouldn’t choose to download media illegally if access was easy and affordable. It reminds me of this cartoon from the Oatmeal.

15 year-old develops effective, cheap test for pancreatic cancer [TED Audition]

Wow. Here’s Jack Andraka’s TED Audition for a talk on his work developing a carbon nanotube and antibody-based test for pancreatic cancer.

Jack won the 2012 Gordon E. Moore Award ($75,000) at the Intel International* Science and Engineering Fair for the same work:

Read more about him, his work and the work he built it on here on Forbes.com.

*Yup – you can have a go too.

Thai Kids Anti-Smoking Ad [Video]

This is well done.

I wonder what would happen if a young orangutan asked this adult for a light? (Indonesian zoo aims to stub out orangutan’s smoking habit, Guardian).

Tori the smoking orangutan, from the Guardian

Tori the smoking orangutan, from the Guardian

Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney [TED Talk]

With links to stem cells, genetic engineering and biotechnology, homeostasis and the kidney, the current science outlined in this TED Talk by Anthony Atala is amazing. It includes a demonstration of a real kidney being printed and a student who has an engineered bladder and now lives a normal life. Wow.

With huge numbers of people waiting for kidney transplants, is this the future of transplant medicine?

Thinking of kidneys, the Guardian has a link to an AP article: Mystery illness kills thousands in South America.

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