Category Archives: Health and Social Issues

The Story of Electronics (video): cut down the ‘stuff’ this holiday

Tis the season to be jolly – and to ask for new shiny gadgets to replace the still newish, slightly less shiny doodas we already have. But how often do we really think about the impacts of our disposable culture?

Watch Annie Leonard’s clip on the story of electronics and take principled actions this holiday season.

For more videos like this, check out her YouTube channel or book.

Sex, Lies and Cigarettes

I came across this video via Steve Harton’s Hartonline Bio website and clicked on it because of the Indonesia connection. I’m glad I did, though it made me quite angry.

Aldi

Aldi

Having spent most of the last eight years in Indonesia, I have long been concerned about the ubiquity of the tobacco industry and the all-pervasive nature of the advertising. Everything – literally everything – is sponsored by tobacco. From TV and movies to sports (!), some schools (!!) and music concerts. There is no escaping the message that smoking is cool, good for you and leads to an exciting life.

So how did it get this way when the developed world is shunning the dangers of smoking?

This 40-minute documentary by Vanguard puts it all in context. From the viral video sensation of Aldi the smoking baby, to the simple, ruthless economics of exploiting a developing country and targeting their children as an emerging market, the film-makers lay it out clearly and passionately. It focuses too on the work of an anti-smoking action group who face the huge challenge of taking on big tobacco in a country where so much depends on it – it’s a major cash crop and source of income.

This video is a YouTube upload, but there are clips and resources on the official Vanguard page.

I loved the bit where the Miss Indonesia contestants help the film-maker crash the World Tobacco Asia conference!

Some questions and thoughts to consider when watching the movie:

  1. Near the end of the movie, there is a quote from Warren Buffett: “I’ll tell you why I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It’s addictive. And there’s fantastic brand loyalty.” Although he has changed his stance on tobacco, it neatly illustrates the bottom-line ethos of business.
  2. As a publicly-owned company, your main responsibility is to the shareholder – you must maximise profits. Discuss the ethics of targeting children in emerging economies as a market.
  3. Accepted science states that tobacco is addictive and harmful to human health. Why then has this not been recognised by the Indonesian government?
One thing I noticed that the film does not mention – in recent years, anti-smoking has started to take off and it is now forbidden to smoke in public transport and restaurants (still allowed here in Japan). Does this mean the movement is gaining ground? Time will tell.

For more good documentaries, have a look at Vanguard's website.

Inside Fukushima

The Guardian has a nice interactive gallery this week of some images taken inside the Fukushima clean-up operation. In the months since the Tōhoku earthquake, there have been published a wealth of very useful educational resources regarding nuclear power, radiation, earthquakes and tsunamis. Sadly too the internet has been inundated with rubbish. When we come to our Atomic Energy unit of inquiry in Grade 10, we will look at some of these and try to evaluate their usefulness.

For now, enjoy the pictures. If you want to learn more, the Guardian was pretty good with their coverage and their links are well worth following.

Guardian Fukushima Gallery

It’s Movember! Grow a mo and raise awareness of cancer.

Serendipitously timed, Grade 11 are looking at cell division as some of the male teachers are growing their mo’s for Movember:

“Men sporting Movember moustaches, known as Mo Bros, become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November* and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.”

From the MoVember website.

*Actually, we’re doing Nov 10th – Dec 10th, due to the holiday and being a bit slow on the uptake.

So what’s it got to do with Biology?

Well, tumours – such as prostate and testicular cancer in men; breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer in women; and cancer of everything else in everyone else – are simply the result of uncontrolled cell division. Through apoptosis (programmed cell death) or damage (necrosis), cells are destroyed. These need to be replaced with other cells. As our cells are eukaryotic, they need to go through mitosis to ensure that complete copies of all the chromosomes make it into both daughter cells.

As with other cell processes, this is controlled by genes and, importantly, terminated when the cells have grown appropriately. If there is a mutation or problem with a tumour-suppressor gene, such as TP53, the process of cell division is not stopped and the cells grow out of control. This is a tumour. Alternatively, mutations can affect other genes (oncogenes), which encourage further growth.

Click here for a good 11-minute documentary on cancer development, from CancerQuest.

Tumours can start out benign – growths of cells that are not harmful. If these cells become malignant and invade other cells and damage tissues, this is known as cancer. Damage to other cells and tissues leads to illness and can be fatal if not treated early. As tumours grow, they can recruit blood vessels – called angiogenesis. Now you run the risk of metastasis – cells from the tumour breaking off, flowing through the blood and starting a new aggressive tumour in a different part of the body.

Environmental factors can encourage mutations in key cell-cycle-controlling genes. We all know, for example, that smoking can cause lung cancer, UV radiation can lead to skin cancer and the HPV virus can cause cervical cancer.

So why all the fuss about Movember?

Simply, men’s cancers receive less media attention and men tend to be less willing to talk openly about their health problems (unless, of course, they’re trying to get sympathy with a case of man-flu). As guys tend to put off going to the doctor and generally live a lifestyle that is higher-risk for cancer (high fat, high meat, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise…), tumours can go unnoticed. Men are less likely to survive a cancer diagnosis than their more health-conscious lady friends.

Through cultivating the moustache, we can start conversations about these issues, raise money for education, prevention, research and treatment and promote anti-cancer behaviours:

  1. Healthy lifestyle choices and awareness of risk
  2. Self-checking and regular screening for at-risk groups
  3. Early diagnosis of and treatment for tumours, should they arise (animation)

So get mo-tivated and join the mo-alition of the willing. Take a mo-ment to think about cell division. And mo-an at the men in your life to make healthy choices. Ladies too can get involved – by becoming Mo-Sistas and also raising awareness. The BIS Team are called the BIS Upper Lips!

In the video above, he talks about how genome mapping can lead to giving an indicator of risk to men. Great technology, based on the Human Genome Project (link to 4.4 Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology).

For the class resources on 2.5 Cell Division, click here. Interestingly, and obviously, hair growth itself is a product of cell division. Something to think about as you grow the mo, yo.

Genetics – Megapost

Get the Essential Biology 04 – Genetics Revision guides here:  Standard LevelHigher Level

Top websites:

Learn.Genetics@Utah awesome resources

Click4Biology Genetics pages: CoreHigher Level

BioEthics Education Project: The Human GenomeGenetic Technology

And as always, click on the shadowed images in the presentations to be taken to source videos and animations.

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Here are all the presentations for the Genetics topics.

Core:

More presentations after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

Nerves, Hormones and Homeostasis

The final topic for Standard Level!

For updated versions of this post (and more to do with drugs), please click here:

Nerves, Hormones and Homeostasis

Neurotransmitters, Synapses and Drugs

As usual, click on the shadowed images to see an animation.

Introduction to the nervous system

YouTube video:

Loads of useful resources from Neuroscience for Kids

Reflex arc animation from msjensen.

Nerve impulses: resting potential and action potential

Cool tutorial from the Harvey Project

McGraw Hill nerve impulse animation

Nice and simple from mrothery

Another good one from Alberta Psychology

Propagation on myelinated and non-myelinated nerves from Blackwell Publishing

Synaptic Transmission

Great animation from McGraw Hill

Good tutorial from Harvard Outreach

Another WHS Freeman tutorial (lifewire)

The Endocrine System

Good visual introduction from Delmar Learning

Really good animation – lots of info – from e-learning for kids

Homeostasis

Tutorial and game from think-bank

Detailed tutorial from the University of New South Wales

Homeostasis in Newfoundland from Memorial University

Another good Freeman tutorial

Blood Glucose and Diabetes

MedMovie introduction

WebMD guide to diabetes

Gas Exhange: Core and FHP

Almost there for standard levels – just two more little topics!

Here’s the Core presentation:

And here’s the one for Further Human Physiology:

Download it here: gas-exchange-fhp.ppt

And here’s the Click4Biology page

Gas exchange, oxygen dissociation and myoglobin:

Some useful tutorials from GetBodySmart

For a quick view of some basics, here is an animation from Wisconsin Online (though it’s not very good…)

Asthma and Lung Cancer (though we don’t need lung cancer any more):

What’s asthma all about? from whatsasthma.org

Asthma attack animation from 1on1health

Lung Cancer animation from Discovery’s Human Body Atlas

Mesothelioma (caused by asbestos) from MedIndia.com

Healthy cilia and Smokers’ cilia from The Bioscope Initiative

Effects of pollution on your lungs from airinfonow.org

Some cool videos after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

The Transport System (Core and HL-FHP)

The Transport System (Core)

Click4Biology page here.

And loads of useful links from North Harris College.

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Higher Level Students:

Download here: transport-system.ppt

And here’s the Click4Biology link

Medmovie.com has a large collection of animations which are great for this unit. We can’t link to them directly, but it’s worth having a look around.

The Cardiac Cycle:

Hyper Heart animation and graphs from the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Biointeractive from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Control of the Heart Beat:

A few good links to try from Washburn Rural High School

And don’t forget the Medmovie resource…

Atherosclerosis and Coronary Heart Disease:

Medmovie has good animations for atherosclerosis, heart attacks and heart bypass surgery. There aren’t many that are better…

Production of Tissue Fluid and Lymph:

Hydrostatic and osmotic pressure (fluid exchange) from McGraw Hill

Capillary exchange from coolschool.ca (they have other good resources, too)

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Bonus features:

For a good (tricky) prac, here’s a virtual EKG package from skillstat.com

And here’s a decent heart structure tutorial from Gateway Community College

And why not have a go at open heart surgery from abc.net.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology linklist

This topic is Science at the moment, so let’s keep it as concise as possible. Some people go as far as studying a degree in all this, but that can wait for now!

Here’s the presentation for the IBDP Biology syllabus:

And here’s the revision page from Clcik4Biology

And now by topic:

Polymerase Chain Reaction

Very visual from Dolan DNA Learning Centre

McGraw Hill step-through

Rutgers step-through

and of course, the ever-so-silly PCR Song

Gel Electrophoresis and DNA Profiling (or DNA Fingerprinting)

Easy intro from Court TV

In-depth look from DNAi

DNA Learning Centre’s Electrophoresis animation

Learn.Genetics super-flashy animation

Case study: the case of the pothunters from Learn.Genetics

The Human Genome Project

Official Site How to sequence a genome

Teachers’ resources

Learn.Genetics genome resources

Outcomes: Bioinformatics DNA Microarrays 1 (2)

Outcomes: looking deeper into evolutionary relationships:

Gene Transfer Technology

McGraw Hill animation collection

NewScientist: gene therapy success reverses blindness

Gene Therapy in SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency) from Sumanas

Gene transfer in insulin production from abpi schools

Using the gene gun as a vector from Purdue

Genetic Modification in Crops and Animals

Glowing pigs and fish: Animal Farm TV series

GM food and you (objective, worth watching)

Cloning

Excellent animation from Dolan DNA Learning Centre

Video: Enucleation of an egg cell from Howard Hughes Medical Institute:

Download this Stem Cell cribsheet from SEED Magazine

Therapeutic cloning cures Parkinsons mice

More about cloning from ActionBioscience

If this catches your imagination, dig deeper!

Virtual Echocardiography

This resource from Toronto General Hospital’s Perioperative Interactive Education unit gives a good view of two sections through the heart, with ECG loops to match the image. Good for seeing the normal function of cardiac valves.

Updated and includes guide sheets, quizzes and a range of languages.

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