Blog Archives

DrosophiLab – Genetics Simulator

Drosophila buscki
Drosophila buscki

DrosophiLab is a brilliant, free and downloadable piece of software that allows students and teachers to edit fruit flies and carry out crosses. The teacher can use the chromosome editor to set up parent flies of any genotype and there are 20 genes and traits represented, on four chromosomes. This allows for simple monohybrid crosses, sex-linkage, gene linkage and many other combinations – so the problems you set can be differentiated by level. There is also a password-protected teacher setting, to restrict students’ access to results tables and chromosome maps (so they have to work it out for themselves!).

Here are our class resources:

Protocol sheets: DrosophiLab HL, DrosophiLab SL (pdf)

Fly files in this folder:

Chi-Calc (Chi-squared calculator, .xlsx)

How to catch and observe Drosophila:

Catch Your Own Drosophila, from Access Excellence (lots of resources there)

And this is how you tell the sexes apart:

When trying to observe the flies for real, think about the following questions:

– How are you ensuring ethical treatment of the animals?

– How long would it take to determine the phenotypes of the number of flies you have set for your investigations?

– What difficulties do you encounter when observing the flies?

– What are the limitations or sources of error that might affect the reliability of your results?

Why are fruit flies so important in science?

Science loves fruit flies, and there was even a fruit fly Nobel awarded in 1995 for studies in embryonic development. This links neatly to the assessment statements regarding the differentiation of cells through expression of different genes.


Fruit fly cells are relatively easily observed, and Drosophila makes for an ideal model organism for Mendelian genetics as it has a short life cycle, reproduces quickly and is easily phenotyped.

There is a biography of fruit flies called Fly: An Experimental Life, by Martin Brookes, and you can find out more about the Drosophila genome at

Image sources:

Drosophila buscki from Journal of Endocrinology

Fruit fly graphic and DrosophiLab banner from DrosophiLab

A2: Energy in Human Diets

This is a deceptively expansive subtopic, covering food energy, effects of high-energy diets, cultural diets, obesity and anorexia. The presentation has much more information than you need, but the links to health issues are there and worth paying attention to.

Class presentation with loads of video and animation links (click on the shadowed images):

You can watch the whole of Super Size Me online at GoogleVideo, and use this question sheet as you watch. You will need to do some further research. BIS Students, don’t waste the bandwidth – watch it on the network.

Stem Cell Foundation: Rock Stars of Science

This is a moving clip from the StemCellFoundation, and their channel has lots of decent, informative video clips. Check it out.

Components of the Human Diet

As always, click on the shadowed images to be taken to links, including original research papers, videos and a really good document from the WHO.

After watching the Jamie Oliver TED talk, get working on the quiz and activities on Moodle.

Jamie Oliver’s TED Wish: Teach All Kids About Nutrition.

Command Terms in IB Biology

Here’s a presentation to help you with your revision and to become familiar with the command terms – the ‘instruction words‘ that will be used in all exam question and that are used in the assessment statements in the subject guide.

If you go over to SlideShare to view the presentation, you should be able to download it as an editable powerpoint.

Genetic Engineering & Biotech resources

Here’s the class presentation:

Essential Biology: 4.4 Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

For more resources on each of the types of biotech studied, head over to the main page.

Photosynthesis Presentation Updated

Here it is, tidied up for the revision unit:

Head on over to the class page here: Photosynthesis (Core and AHL)

We’re almost there, Grade 12!

Almost there Grade 12!

Content completed, IA’s done. You can sign off your 4PSOW on Tuesday and from now on it’s revise, revise, revise.

Tomorrow we’ll set up our revision folders, and I’ll release the first two past papers. These are your tasks to complete each week, and are to be done to the best of your ability, without cheating!

We will mark each week’s papers using the markschemes.Learn from your mistakes and highlight areas of weakness.


1. Do not print the papers – read them as pdf. Conserve paper!

2. I’ll give you copies of MC answer grids to use.

3. You can print only the pages with diagrams and measurements, and stick them in your notes.

4. Write all your answers on lined paper.Practice completing the exam in the allotted time.

5. Look for trends in favourite question topics.

6. If you hit a topic you don’t understand, use it as an opportunity to revise – check those notes and make sure your essential biology library is complete.

7. Take care to erase questions from older papers that don’t apply to our syllabus – you should be able to cross-check them with the assessment statements.

8. Go through your handbook again, and check off all the assessment statements. Rip out the pages for options we’re not studying. Recycle them.

9. Build libraries of the following:

– definitions and key terms (the marks are in the correct use of language, as shown by the markschemes)

– diagrams and labels

– calculations and examples

10. Pace yourself. Leaving your work until the last minute will not work. Just 6 weeks to go!

11. Teach each other, but do not be a parasite to your friends. If you can explain concepts to others and lead them to understand it, you are doing well.

12. Check out some review skills here.

13. Evaluate your revision techniques – just because you like it does not mean it works.

14. Don’t waste forever colouring in nice pictures of things you already know. Tackle the hard stuff. Learn!

Good luck!

E6 (HL) Further Studies of Behaviour

Final topic for the HL Students!

Class Presentation:

Essential Biology E6: Further Studies of Behaviour

Animations and Resources:

Inside the Hive (PBS): Colony structure

EO Wilson: Lord of the Ants (PBS)


Richrad Dawkins explains the Selfish Gene:

Rhythmical Behaviours

Turtles rely on lunar cycles for nesting:

Seasonal cycles can be affected by climate change:

Circadian rhythms are daily cycles:

Tutorial from WHFreeman

Hamsters will self-select optimal light conditions

Sleep/ wake patterns are genetic in basis:

Colony collapse Disorder (non-syllabus)


Worker, Queen and Drone

No one villian behind honey-bee colony collapse” from Science News

Wikipedia page: CCD

What causes CCD? from Bayer CropScience

Video: Collapse of the Honeybee, by Rowan Jacobsen

Transcription and Translation: AHL

Additional Higher Level:

Work through these tutorials from BioCoach online: TranscriptionTranslation

Essential Biology: 7.3 & 7.4 Transcription & Translation AHL


Further resources:

Transcription Details (fits DP Bio HL very well)

Translation Details (fits DP Bio HL very well)

MrHardy’s Wikispace (original author unknown):

Transcription (great for HL)

Translation (great for HL)

John Kyrk: (visit the parent site at – excellent)

Transcription (fits DP Bio HL very well)

Translation (fits DP Bio HL very well)

St. Olaf College

Transcription (clear and simple)

Translation (clear and simple)

WH Freeman

RNA Splicing tutorial (HL only)


Translation with a genetic code dictionary (shows position in the ribosome)

Some more in-depth animations (newly added):

Translation from Wiley Interscience

Translation from LSU Medschool

Translation from The Chinese University in Hong Kong

Protein targeting from Rockefeller University

Blame it on the DNA, from the Stanford Students:

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