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Out of Your Seat and on Your Feet! An adaptable course-based research project in plant ecology for advanced studentsLearning ObjectivesStudents will:
- Articulate testable hypotheses. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper, in-class exercises)
- Analyze data to determine the level of support for articulated hypotheses. (Labs 4-7, final presentation/paper)
- Identify multiple species of plants in the field quickly and accurately. (Labs 2-3, field trip)
- Measure environmental variables and sample vegetation in the field. (Labs 2-3, field trip)
- Analyze soil samples using a variety of low-tech lab techniques. (Open labs after field trip)
- Use multiple statistical techniques to analyze data for patterns. (Labs 4-8, final presentation/paper)
- Interpret statistical analyses to distinguish between strong and weak interactions in a biological system. (Labs 4-7, final presentation/paper)
- Develop and present a conference-style presentation in a public forum. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper)
- Write a publication-ready research paper communicating findings and displaying data. (Lab 8, final presentation/paper)
Sequence Similarity: An inquiry based and "under the hood" approach for incorporating molecular sequence...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Define similarity in a non-biological and biological sense when provided with two strings of letters.
- Quantify the similarity between two gene/protein sequences.
- Explain how a substitution matrix is used to quantify similarity.
- Calculate amino acid similarity scores using a scoring matrix.
- Demonstrate how to access genomic data (e.g., from NCBI nucleotide and protein databases).
- Demonstrate how to use bioinformatics tools to analyze genomic data (e.g., BLASTP), explain a simplified BLAST search algorithm including how similarity is used to perform a BLAST search, and how to evaluate the results of a BLAST search.
- Create a nearest-neighbor distance matrix.
- Create a multiple sequence alignment using a nearest-neighbor distance matrix and a phylogram based on similarity of amino acid sequences.
- Use appropriate bioinformatics sequence alignment tools to investigate a biological question.
A new approach to course-based research using a hermit crab-hydrozoan symbiosisLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- define different types of symbiotic interactions, with specific examples.
- summarize and critically evaluate contemporary primary literature relevant to ecological symbioses, in particular that between hermit crabs and Hydractinia spp.
- articulate a question, based on observations of a natural phenomenon (in this example, the hermit crab-Hydractinia interaction).
- articulate a testable hypothesis, based on their own observations and read of the literature.
- design appropriate experimental or observational studies to address their hypotheses.
- collect and interpret data in light of their hypotheses.
- problem-solve and troubleshoot issues that arise during their experiment.
- communicate scientific results, both orally and in written form.
A flexible, multi-week approach to plant biology - How will plants respond to higher levels of CO2?Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Apply findings from each week's lesson to make predictions and informed hypotheses about the next week's lesson.
- Keep a detailed laboratory notebook.
- Write and peer-edit the sections of a scientific paper, and collaboratively write an entire lab report in the form of a scientific research paper.
- Search for, find, and read scientific research papers.
- Work together as a team to conduct experiments.
- Connect findings and ideas from each week's lesson to get a broader understanding of how plants will respond to higher levels of CO2 (e.g., stomatal density, photosynthetic/respiratory rates, foliar protein concentrations, growth, and resource allocation).
A Close-Up Look at PCRLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson students will be able to...
- Describe the role of a primer in PCR
- Predict sequence and length of PCR product based on primer sequences
- Recognize that primers are incorporated into the final PCR products and explain why
- Identify covalent and hydrogen bonds formed and broken during PCR
- Predict the structure of PCR products after each cycle of the reaction
- Explain why amplification proceeds exponentially
Meiosis: A Play in Three Acts, Starring DNA SequenceLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to identify sister chromatids and homologous chromosomes at different stages of meiosis.
- Students will be able to identify haploid and diploid cells, whether or not the chromosomes are replicated.
- Students will be able to explain why homologous chromosomes must pair during meiosis.
- Students will be able to relate DNA sequence similarity to chromosomal structures.
- Students will be able to identify crossing over as the key to proper pairing of homologous chromosomes during meiosis.
- Students will be able to predict the outcomes of meiosis for a particular individual or cell.
Lights, Camera, Acting Transport! Using role-play to teach membrane transportLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- Compare and contrast the mechanisms of simple diffusion, facilitated diffusion, and active transport (both primary and secondary).
- Identify, and provide a rationale for, the mechanism(s) by which various substances cross the plasma membrane.
- Describe the steps involved in the transport of ions by the Na+/K+ pump, and explain the importance of electrogenic pumps to the generation and maintenance of membrane potentials.
- Explain the function of electrochemical gradients as potential energy sources specifically used in secondary active transport.
- Relate each molecule or ion transported by the Na+/glucose cotransporter (SGLT1) to its own concentration or electrochemical gradient, and describe which molecules travel with and against these gradients.
Modeling the Research Process: Authentic human physiology research in a large non-majors courseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Read current scientific literature
- Formulate testable hypotheses
- Design an experimental procedure to test their hypothesis
- Make scientific observations
- Analyze and interpret data
- Communicate results visually and orally
CRISPR/Cas9 in yeast: a multi-week laboratory exercise for undergraduate studentsLearning ObjectivesWeek 1: CRISPR design
- Locate the coding sequence, flanking sequence, protein product, and characteristics of a given gene from the Saccharomyces Genome Database (https://www.yeastgenome.org/).
- Design and defend the design of guide RNA and single stranded template for DNA repair in CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing studies to generate Saccharomyces cerevisiae auxotrophic mutants.
- Describe the qualities of the vector, pML104, that allow replication and selection in bacteria and yeast as well as allow expression of necessary factors in CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, including Cas9 and sgRNA.
- Describe the rationale of and perform procedures necessary for cloning a small cassette (i.e., sgRNA gene) into a vector (i.e., pML104) including; restriction digest, annealing of DNA strands, removal of 5’ phosphates, ligation, and transformation.
- Recognize and design appropriate controls for cloning procedures such as ligation and transformation.
- Describe the method of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), including the rationale for essential components of a reaction mixture and thermal-cycling conditions.
- Locate the binding sites of and design primers for PCR, then report the expected size of the amplification product.
- Describe and perform isolation of plasmid DNA from E. coli.
- Describe the rationale for and perform procedures to transform yeast, including the essential components of a transformation mixture and conditions necessary for transformation.
- Describe the basic conditions required for cultivating yeast.
- Describe the rationale for and perform agarose gel electrophoresis of a given size of DNA.
- Analyze DNA separated by agarose gel electrophoresis, including size estimation.
- Recognize and describe the qualities of a template for DNA repair that allows efficient DNA repair.
- Design an experiment to determine auxotrophic phenotypes.
- Predict the outcome of multi-step experiments.
- Recognize and describe conditions necessary for growth of E. coli and S. cerevisiae.
- Qualitatively and quantitatively analyze scientific data from scientific experiments, including bacterial and yeast transformation, agarose gel electrophoresis, extraction of plasmid DNA from bacteria, PCR, and auxotroph phenotypic analysis.
- Communicate science to peers through maintenance of a laboratory notebook, verbal communication with group members, and writing of a formal laboratory report written in a format acceptable for journal publication.
- Troubleshoot scientific protocols by identifying procedures that are prone to error, comparing recommended protocols to actual procedure, and using positive and negative controls to narrow the location of a potential error.
- Communicate specific potential or actual uses of CRISPR/Cas9 in science and/or medicine.
- Use various bioinformatics approaches to analyze macromolecular primary sequence and structure.
- Illustrate how DNA is replicated and genes are transmitted from one generation to the next in multiple types of organisms including bacteria, eukaryotes, viruses, and retroviruses.
- Define what a genome consists of and how the information in various genes and other sequence classes within each genome are used to store and express genetic information.
- Explain the meaning of ploidy (haploid, diploid, aneuploid etc.) and how it relates to the number of homologues of each chromosome.
- Predict the effects of mutations on the activity, structure, or stability of a protein and design appropriate experiments to assess the effects of mutations.
- Predict the growth behavior of microbes based on their growth conditions, e.g., temperature, available nutrient, aeration level, etc.
- Discuss the benefits of specific tools of modern biotechnology that are derived from naturally occurring microbes (e.g. cloning vectors, restriction enzymes, Taq polymerase, etc.)
- Accurately prepare and use reagents and perform experiments.
- When presented with an observation, develop a testable and falsifiable hypothesis.
- When provided with a hypothesis, identify the appropriate experimental observations and controllable variables.
Make It Stick: Teaching Gene Targeting with Ribbons and FastenersLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to design targeting constructs.
- Students will be able to predict changes to the gene locus after homologous recombination.
- Students will be able to design experiments to answer a biological question (e.g., "Design an experiment to test if the expression of gene X is necessary for limb development").
What do Bone and Silly Putty® have in Common?: A Lesson on Bone ViscoelasticityLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to explain how the anatomical structure of long bones relates to their function.
- Students will be able to define viscoelasticity, hysteresis, anisotropy, stiffness, strength, ductility, and toughness.
- Students will be able to identify the elastic and plastic regions of a stress-strain curve. They will be able to correlate each phase of the stress-strain curve with physical changes to bone.
- Students will be able to predict how a bone would respond to changes in the magnitude of an applied force, and to variations in the speed or angle at which a force is applied.
- Students will be able to determine the reason(s) why bone injuries occur more frequently during athletic events than during normal everyday use.
A virtual laboratory on cell division using a publicly-available image databaseLearning Objectives
- Students will name and describe the salient features and cellular tasks for each stage of cell division.
- Students will predict the relative durations of the stages of cell division using prior knowledge and facts from assigned readings.
- Students will describe the relationship between duration of each stage of cell division and the frequency of cells present in each stage of cell division counted in a random sample of images of pluripotent stem cells.
- Students will identify the stages of cell division present in research-quality images of human pluripotent stem cells in various stages of cell division.
- Students will quantify, analyze and summarize data on the prevalence of cells at different stages of cell division in randomly sampled cell populations.
- Students will use data to reflect on and revise predictions.
Serotonin in the Pocket: Non-covalent interactions and neurotransmitter bindingLearning Objectives
- Students will design a binding site for the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- Students will be able to determine the effect of a change in molecular orientation on the affinity of the molecule for the binding site.
- Students will be able to determine the effect of a change in molecular charge on the affinity of the molecule for the binding site.
- Students will be able to better differentiate between hydrogen bond donors and acceptors.
- Students can use this knowledge to design binding sites for other metabolites.
Sex and gender: What does it mean to be female or male?Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to distinguish between sex and gender, and apply each term appropriately.
- Students will be able to compare and contrast levels of sexual determination.
- Students will be able to critique societal misrepresentations surrounding sex, gender, and gender identity.
The Case of the Missing Strawberries: RFLP analysisLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe the relationship of cells, chromosomes, and DNA.
- Isolate DNA from strawberries.
- Digest DNA with restriction enzymes.
- Perform gel electrophoresis.
- Design an experiment to compare DNAs by RFLP analysis.
- Predict results of RFLP analysis.
- Interpret results of RFLP analysis.
- Use appropriate safety procedures in the lab.
Teaching Genetic Linkage and Recombination through Mapping with Molecular MarkersLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Explain how recombination can lead to new combinations of linked alleles.
- Explain how molecular markers (such as microsatellites) can be used to map the location of genes/loci, including what crosses would be informative and why.
- Explain how banding patterns on an electrophoresis gel represent the segregation of alleles during meiosis.
- Predict how recombination frequency between two linked loci affects the genotype frequencies of the products of meiosis compared to loci that are unlinked (or very tightly linked).
- Analyze data from a cross (phenotypes and/or genotypes) to determine if the cross involves linked genes.
- Calculate the map distance between linked genes using data from genetic crosses, such as gel electrophoresis banding patterns.
- Justify conclusions about genetic linkage by describing the information in the data that allows you to determine genes are linked.
Infectious Chocolate Joy with a Side of Poissonian Statistics: An activity connecting life science students with subtle...Learning Objectives
- Students will define a Poisson distribution.
- Students will generate a data set on the probability of a T cell being infected with a virus(es).
- Students will predict the likelihood of one observing the mean value of viruses occurring.
- Students will evaluate the outcomes of a random process.
- Students will hypothesize whether a process is Poissonian and design a test for that hypothesis.
- Students will collect data and create a histogram from their data.
You and Your Oral Microflora: Introducing non-biology majors to their “forgotten organ”Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Explain both beneficial and detrimental roles of microbes in human health.
- Compare and contrast DNA replication as it occurs inside a cell versus in a test tube
- Identify an unknown sequence of DNA by performing a BLAST search
- Navigate sources of scientific information to assess the accuracy of their experimental techniques
Exploration of the Human Genome by Investigation of Personalized SNPsLearning ObjectivesStudents successfully completing this lesson will be able to:
- Effectively use the bioinformatics databases (SNPedia, the UCSC Genome Browser, and NCBI) to explore SNPs of interest within the human genome.
- Identify three health-related SNPs of personal interest and use the UCSC Genome Browser to define their precise chromosomal locations and determine whether they lie within a gene or are intergenic.
- Establish a list of all genome-wide association studies correlated with a particular health-related SNP.
- Predict which model organism would be most appropriate for conducting further research on a human disease.
Taking the Hassle out of HasselbalchLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Characterize an aqueous environment as acidic or basic.
- Explain that pKa is a measure of how easy it is to remove a proton from a molecule.
- Predict ionization state of a molecule at a particular pH based on its pKa (qualitative use of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation).
- Calculate the ratio of protonated/unprotonated forms of ionizable groups depending on chemical characteristics and /or environment pH (quantitative use of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation).
- Apply this knowledge in a medical context.
A Short Laboratory Module to Help Infuse Metacognition during an Introductory Course-based Research ExperienceLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data.
- Students will be able to employ prior knowledge in formulating a biological research question or hypothesis.
- Students will be able to distinguish a research question from a testable hypothesis.
- Students will recognize that the following are essential elements in experimental design: identifying gaps in prior knowledge, picking an appropriate approach (ex. experimental tools and controls) for testing a hypothesis, and reproducibility and repeatability.
- Students will be able to identify appropriate experimental tools, approaches and controls to use in testing a hypothesis.
- Students will be able to accurately explain why an experimental approach they have selected is a good choice for testing a particular hypothesis.
- Students will be able to discuss whether experimental outcomes support or fail to support a particular hypothesis, and in the case of the latter, discuss possible reasons why.
The ACTN3 Polymorphism: Applications in Genetics and Physiology Teaching LaboratoriesLearning Objectives
- Test hypotheses related to the role of ACTN3 in skeletal muscle function.
- Explain how polymorphic variants of the ACTN3 gene affect protein structure and function.
- List and explain the differences between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers.
- List and explain possible roles of the ACTN3 protein in skeletal muscle function.
- Find and analyze relevant scientific publications about the relationship between ACTN3 genotype and muscle function.
- Formulate hypotheses related to the relationship between ACTN3 genotype and skeletal muscle function.
- Design experiments to test hypotheses about the role of ACTN3 in skeletal muscle function.
- Statistically analyze experimental results using relevant software.
- Present experimental results in writing.