Something we go over and over in class is the relationship between the words we use in Biology and their Latin and Greek roots. There is a massive vocabulary to use in Biology*, and if you learn to break down words into their components, you might get a better understanding of the meaning behind them.
It’s a code – and if you can crack it, you can even make a good guess at the meaning of many unknown words in exam papers, textbooks and articles. Language should not be a barrier to Biology students – even those who are ESL learners.
Revision tip for the semester exams: Build a vocab list for each subtopic and rather than just define the terms, break them into their components. Can you use the roots in another word or sentence?
Here is a nice SlideShare presentation on how Greek and Latin roots aid understanding:
Glossary of Greek and Latin Roots in Science, Exploring Science Site
Greek and Latin Roots in English, Wikipedia
A multitude of lesson plans for vocabulary, from vocabulary-lesson-plans.com
Interestingly, in modern science and media, some words are formed from compounds of Greek and Latin. Here is a classic quote from C.P. Snow: “Television. The word is half-Greek and half-Latin; no good can come of it.”
*I heard a quote once that there was more vocab in HL Biology than in a Language B subject. It would be cool to find out how true that is. Can anyone estimate the number of vocabulary terms learned by a Biology student?
As you can see in the NewScientist video, it was an example of a mechanical computer – designed to predict the relative positions of the planets, chart astrology and count down to the Olympics.It shows us just how advanced Greek science was, and makes us wonder – what would have happened if this technology had not been lost? Would the Greeks have been playing Spore in 200AD?
Some questions to think about:
– What makes this a computer?
– What sets it apart from an old alarm clock?
– Where do you think we would be now if this knowledge hadn’t been lost?