Blog Archives

TimeTree – Common ancestor calculator

This is a lot of fun. Plug in two species or taxa and TimeTree will give you our best estimate of when they last shared a common ancestor. Drawing on a multitude of sources, you can look through the database and use TimeTree as a launching pad for further research.

Here are some sample results:

Fun suggestion – play the ‘higher or lower‘ game with pairs of taxa.

Click4Biology Videos

John Burrell from Click4Biology has just started uploading some tutorial videos for Biology on his YouTube Channel. You might find them useful, so check them out!


Welcome to 2011: International Year of Forests and Chemistry!

Happy New Year Scientists!

With the close of 2010, the UN’s International Year for Biodiversity and Rapprochement of Cultures, we welcome in 2011, International Year of Forests (UN) and Chemistry (UNESCO).

So was the International Year of Biodiversity a success?

Shark finning - still a problem in Indonesia. Click for a gallery of biodiversity wins and fails in 2010.

The official UN page still has lots of resources for biodiversity, including videos and reports. There is a also a good resource of articles and information from the International Institute for Environment and Development. One of the key conservation events last year was COP-10 in Nagoya – the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. There are some good articles on the build-up and outcomes of COP-10 available at, as well as a summary at Wikipedia. The Guardian’s George Monbiot reviews the conference here, and they also have their own environmental review of 2010.

Eco-wins: new marine parks, recovering waterways, ecosystem pledges in Nagoya, and the hundreds of ground-level conservation and environmental efforts taking place across the globe. Also, 2010-2020 has been declared the decade for biodiversity!

Eco-fails: Deepwater Horizon, we’re still overfishing, forest clearance rampages on and what are we really doing about plastic pollution, water pollution, air pollution, factory farming, habitat destruction and uncontrolled urbanisation?


Celebrate the forests!

UN International Year of Forests

Celebrate the forests!

Although global deforestation appears to be slowing down, it is still continuing at an alarming rate, according to the UN’s 2010 report on global forest resources. So what can we do about it in the International Year of Forests?

Check out some of these educational resources:

Here is CIFOR‘s (Centre for International Forestry Research) video for 2011:



UNESCO International Year of Chemistry

The International Year of Chemistry 2011 aims to celebrate the achievements of Chemistry and its contrbutions to the well-being of mankind. Head on over to, the official page, for a growing wealth of resources and ideas.

Choice Chemistry resources:


And finally…

Don’t forget that from August 2010 to August 2011 is also the International Year for Youth. Phew – so much to think about and take action on in 2011!


Have a great and productive 2011, and remember that everything we do in class can be applied to life beyond school and to the global issues we face – and you will have to deal with.

I’ll be trying to postaweek2011 through the year. Why don’t you have a go too?


Mobile apps for SlideShare – iPhones and iPads

SlideShare Mobile Apps

Here’s a quick post for students with iPads or iPhones. Do your pre-reading or revision (or just read for fun) on the way home using these applications for SlideShare.

SlideBySlide is a free app for the iPad which allows you browse and access SlideShare presentations. SlideShare’s mobile apps should also work on phones. If you have an iPad or iPhone, try them out and let me know how it goes.

Can you use these apps on BlackBerries and other mobile phones? If not, you can get pdf readers and ppt apps that will allow you to save the presentations from the network to your devices. Have fun playing with these ideas – how could we make better use of the technologies that you have in class?

Virtual Urchin – Tutorials from Stanford

Here are some flash tutorials from the team at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford. They make good use of the properties of the sea urchin’s gametes for studies and learning experiences:

Fertilisation and Development Lab

Fertilisation and Development

“Gametes of sea urchins yield exceptional experiences in the classroom; teachers and students alike are riveted by being able to observe fertilization, cell division and embryonic development. The gametes are easy to use, the developmental stages are readily seen with the microscope and the rapidity of fertilization and early cell divisions allows the student to ask questions and obtain answers within the bounds of a normal classroom schedule. The utility of urchins for inquiry-based science is unrivaled.”

Head on over there to have a go at some of their labs, including a neat microscope tutorial, practice with microscope measurements, fertilisation and development and a ocean acidification investigation.

Secrets of the Sequence – The Discovery of DNA

This 9-minute clip is an ideal ‘watcher’ to go along with the reader in the Course Companion – it tells the story of the discovery of the DNA double helix structure by Watson and Crick and how their discovery was dependant on the prior work of Rosalind Franklin and the compeitive/cooperative nature of research:

This clip  is taken from the vdeo lesson resource provided by Virginia Commonwealth University’s ‘Secrets of the Sequence’ website. They have 50 different videos, each with accompanying lesson plans and activities.

They also have a YouTube channel: VCULifeSciences.

Bio-Alive: a huge resource of animations and videos

Bio-Alive Biology and Life Sciences has a massive set of links to online tutorials, videos, animations, interactives, lectures and games. Huge. Loads.

One of the highlights has to be the video archive of surgical operations!

Follow these links for IB topic help:

Cells: animationstutorialsvirtual labslectures

Chemistry of Life: animationstutorialslectures

Genetics: animationstutorialsvirtual labslectures

Evolution: animationstutorialsvirtual labslectures

Or just visit their page for masses of links.

The Habitable Planet

This is a great collection of multimedia Science resources, including lectures, notes, videos and interactives.

Get on and have a go!

It is produced by, a huge and excellent resource for all Science topics (and other subjects, too).

Microdocs: Stanford’s reef sustainability documentaries

Stanford’s Microdocs project is a well-presented set of video and pdf resources for learning about sustainability and the coral reef ecosystem. Each video is a few minutes long and accompanied by a short article or links to useful sources.

It’s divided into useful topics and easy to navigate (and looks good, too).

And while we’re on the theme of the oceans (again) there’s a brilliant student activity resource centre at the UCLA’s OceanGlobe centre. Everything you could ever need to study marine science.

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