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Investigating Cell Signaling with Gene Expression DatasetsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Explain the hierarchical organization of signal transduction pathways.
- Explain the role of enzymes in signal propagation and amplification.
- Recognize the centrality of signaling pathways in cellular processes, such as metabolism, cell division, or cell motility.
- Rationalize the etiologic basis of disease in terms of deranged signaling pathways.
- Use software to analyze and interpret gene expression data.
- Use an appropriate statistical method for hypotheses testing.
- Produce reports that are written in scientific style.
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
Why do Some People Inherit a Predisposition to Cancer? A small group activity on cancer geneticsLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this activity, we expect students will be able to:
- Use family pedigrees and additional genetic information to determine inheritance patterns for hereditary forms of cancer
- Explain why a person with or without cancer can pass on a mutant allele to the next generation and how that impacts probability calculations
- Distinguish between proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
Using QIIME to Interpret Environmental Microbial Communities in an Upper Level Metagenomics CourseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- list and perform the steps of sequence processing and taxonomic inference.
- interpret microbial community diversity from metagenomic sequence datasets.
- compare microbial diversity within and between samples or treatments.
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)
Quantifying and Visualizing Campus Tree PhenologyLearning ObjectivesThe Learning Objectives of this lesson span across the entire semester.
- Observe and collect information on phenological changes in local trees.
- Become familiar with a database and how to work with large datasets.
- Analyze and visualize data from the database to test their hypotheses and questions.
- Develop a research proposal including empirically-driven questions and hypotheses.
- Synthesize the results of their analysis in the context of plant biodiversity and local environmental conditions.
Tackling "Big Data" with Biology Undergrads: A Simple RNA-seq Data Analysis Tutorial Using GalaxyLearning Objectives
- Students will locate and download high-throughput sequence data and genome annotation files from publically available data repositories.
- Students will use Galaxy to create an automated computational workflow that performs sequence quality assessment, trimming, and mapping of RNA-seq data.
- Students will analyze and interpret the outputs of RNA-seq analysis programs.
- Students will identify a group of genes that is differentially expressed between treatment and control samples, and interpret the biological significance of this list of differentially expressed genes.
Follow the Sulfur: Using Yeast Mutants to Study a Metabolic PathwayLearning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- use spot plating techniques to compare the growth of yeast strains on solid culture media.
- predict the ability of specific met deletion strains to grow on media containing various sulfur sources.
- predict how mutations in specific genes will affect the concentrations of metabolites in the pathways involved in methionine biosynthesis.
Linking Genotype to Phenotype: The Effect of a Mutation in Gibberellic Acid Production on Plant GerminationLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- identify when germination occurs.
- score germination in the presence and absence of GA to construct graphs of collated class data of wild-type and mutant specimens.
- identify the genotype of an unknown sample based on the analysis of their graphical data.
- organize data and perform quantitative data analysis.
- explain the importance of GA for plant germination.
- connect the inheritance of a mutation with the observed phenotype.
A simple way for students to visualize cellular respiration: adapting the board game MousetrapTM to model complexityLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to describe the three stages of cellular respiration.
- Students will be able to identify the reactants entering and the products formed during each stage of cellular respiration.
- Students will be able to explain how chemical energy in carbohydrates is transferred to ATP through the stages of cellular respiration.
- Students will be able to explain the effects of compartmentalization of cellular respiration reactions in different cellular spaces.
- Students will be able to predict biological outcomes when a specific stage(s) of cellular respiration is altered.
Using Synthetic Biology and pClone Red for Authentic Research on Promoter Function: Genetics (analyzing mutant...Learning Objectives
- Describe how cells can produce proteins at the right time and correct amount.
- Diagram a bacterial promoter with −35 and −10 elements and the transcription start site.
- Describe how mutational analysis can be used to study promoter sequence requirements.
- Develop a promoter mutation hypothesis and design an experiment to test it.
- Successfully and safely manipulate DNA and Escherichia coli for ligation and transformation experiments.
- Design an experiment to verify a mutated promoter has been cloned into a destination vector.
- Design an experiment to measure the strength of a promoter.
- Analyze data showing reporter protein produced and use the data to assess promoter strength.
- Define type IIs restriction enzymes.
- Distinguish between type II and type IIs restriction enzymes.
- Explain how Golden Gate Assembly (GGA) works.
- Measure the relative strength of a promoter compared to a standard promoter.
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
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.
Understanding Protein Domains: A Modular ApproachLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to compare protein sequences and identify conserved regions and putative domains.
- Students will be able to obtain, examine, and compare structural models of protein domains.
- Students will be able to interpret data on protein interactions (in vitro pull-down and in vitro and in vivo functional assays)
- Students will be able to propose experiments to test protein interactions.
Antibiotic Resistance Genes Detection in Environmental SamplesLearning ObjectivesAfter completing this laboratory series, students will be able to:
- apply the scientific method in formulating a hypothesis, designing a controlled experiment using appropriate molecular biology techniques, and analyzing experimental results;
- conduct a molecular biology experiment and explain the principles behind methodologies, such as accurate use of micropipettes, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), and gel electrophoresis;
- determine the presence of antibiotic-resistance genes in environmental samples by analyzing PCR products using gel electrophoresis;
- explain mechanisms of microbial antibiotic resistance;
- contribute data to the Antibiotic Resistance Genes Network;
- define and apply key concepts of antibiotic resistance and gene identification via PCR fragment size.
Furry with a chance of evolution: Exploring genetic drift with tuco-tucosLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to explain how genetic drift leads to allelic changes over generations.
- Students will be able to demonstrate that sampling error can affect every generation, which can result in random changes in allelic frequency.
- Students will be able to explore and evaluate the effect of population size on the strength of genetic drift.
- Students will be able to analyze quantitative data associated with genetic drift.
Exploring the March to Mars Using 3D Print ModelsLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to describe the major aspects of the Mars Curiosity Rover missions.
- Students will be able to synthesize information learned from a classroom jigsaw activity on the Mars Curiosity Rover missions.
- Students will be able to work in teams to plan a future manned mission to Mars.
- Students will be able to summarize their reports to the class.
Using Place-Based Economically Relevant Organisms to Improve Student Understanding of the Roles of Carbon Dioxide,...Learning ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Describe the roles of light energy and carbon dioxide in photosynthetic organisms.
- Identify the effect of nutrients on the growth of photosynthetic organisms.
- Describe global cycles in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and how they relate to photosynthetic organisms.
Why Meiosis Matters: The case of the fatherless snakeLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Compare and contrast the process and outcomes of mitosis & meiosis
- Predict consequences of abnormal meiosis including
- The potential genotype and/or phenotypes of offspring produced when meiosis does not occur properly
- The stage(s) of meiosis that could have been abnormal given an offspring’s genotype and/or phenotype
A clicker-based case study that untangles student thinking about the processes in the central dogmaLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- explain the differences between silent (no change in the resulting amino acid sequence), missense (a change in the amino acid sequence), and nonsense (a change resulting in a premature stop codon) mutations.
- differentiate between how information is encoded during DNA replication, transcription, and translation.
- evaluate how different types of mutations (silent, missense, and nonsense) and the location of those mutations (intron, exon, and promoter) differentially affect the processes in the central dogma.
- predict the molecular (DNA size, mRNA length, mRNA abundance, and protein length) and/or phenotypic consequences of mutations.
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.
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.
Dynamic Daphnia: An inquiry-based research experience in ecology that teaches the scientific process to first-year...Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Construct written predictions about 1 factor experiments.
- Interpret simple (2 variables) figures.
- Construct simple (2 variables) figures from data.
- Design simple 1 factor experiments with appropriate controls.
- Demonstrate proper use of standard laboratory items, including a two-stop pipette, stereomicroscope, and laboratory notebook.
- Calculate means and standard deviations.
- Given some scaffolding (instructions), select the correct statistical test for a data set, be able to run a t-test, ANOVA, chi-squared test, and linear regression in Microsoft Excel, and be able to correctly interpret their results.
- Construct and present a scientific poster.
Evaluating the Quick Fix: Weight Loss Drugs and Cellular RespirationLearning Objectives
- Students will be able to explain how the energy from sugars is transformed into ATP via cellular respiration.
- Students will be able to predict an outcome if there is a perturbation in the cellular respiration pathway.
- Students will be able to state and evaluate a hypothesis.
- Students will be able to interpret data from a graph, and use that data to make inferences about the action of a drug.
Learning to Pipet Correctly by Pipetting Incorrectly?Learning Objectives
- Students will be able to use analytical balances and micropipettes.
- Students will be able to calculate averages and standard deviations.
- Students will be able to use t-tests to compare two independent samples.
- Students will be able to justify accepting or rejecting a null hypothesis based on an interpretation of p-values.
- Students will learn to use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel and/or Google Sheets
- Students will be able to explain how pipetting incorrectly leads to errors.
Sex-specific differences in Meiosis: Real-world applicationsLearning ObjectivesAfter completion of the lesson students will be able to:
- Describe the differences between female and male meiosis.
- Interpret graphical data to make decisions relevant to medical practices.
- Develop a hypothesis that explains the difference in incidence of aneuploidy in gametes between males and females.
A Kinesthetic Modeling Activity to Teach PCR FundamentalsLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Draw or model the first three cycles of PCR, including the correct directionality (5’- and 3’-ends) of the primers and single-stranded PCR products.
- Diagram how single-stranded products from the first cycle of PCR are used as templates for subsequent PCR cycles.
- Demonstrate which parts of the primers will anneal to the original DNA template and subsequent PCR products.
- Model and demonstrate when the primer restriction enzyme sites are incorporated into double-stranded PCR products.
- Calculate the number of desired-length PCR products and long PCR products for each amplification cycle.
- Demonstrate how the incorporation of primer restriction enzyme sites into PCR products is a useful tool for subsequent cloning of the product into a vector.
Authentic Ecological Inquiries Using BearCam ArchivesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- conduct an authentic ecological inquiry including
- generate a testable hypothesis based on observations,
- design investigation with appropriate sampling selection and variables,
- collect and analyze data following the design, and
- interpret results and draw conclusions based on the evidence.
- write a research report with appropriate structure and style.
- evaluate the quality of inquiry reports using a rubric.
- conduct peer review to evaluate and provide feedback to others' work.
- revise the inquiry report based on peer feedback and self-assessment.
- conduct an authentic ecological inquiry including
Using Structured Decision Making to Explore Complex Environmental IssuesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe the process, challenges, and benefits of structured decision making for natural resource management decisions.
- Explain and reflect on the role of science and scientists in structured decision making and how those roles interact and compare to the roles of other stakeholders.
- Assess scientific evidence for a given management or policy action to resolve an environmental issue.
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.
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.
Using the Cell Engineer/Detective Approach to Explore Cell Structure and FunctionLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Identify the major cell organelles
- List the major functions of the organelles
- Predict how changes in organelle/cell structure could alter cellular function
- Explain how overall cellular function is dependent upon organelles/cell structure
- Relate cell structure to everyday contexts
Discovery Poster ProjectLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- identify and learn about a scientific research discovery of interest to them using popular press articles and the primary literature
- find a group on campus doing research that aligns with their interests and communicate with the faculty leader of that group
- create and present a poster that synthesizes their knowledge of the research beyond the discovery
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.
Cutthroat trout in Colorado: A case study connecting evolution and conservationLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- interpret figures such as maps, phylogenies, STRUCTURE plots, and networks for species delimitation
- identify sources of uncertainty and disagreement in real data sets
- propose research to address or remedy uncertainty
- construct an evidence-based argument for the management of a rare taxon
An active-learning lesson that targets student understanding of population growth in ecologyLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Calculate and compare population density and abundance.
- Identify whether a growth curve describes exponential, linear, and/or logistic growth.
- Describe and calculate a population's growth rate using linear, exponential, and logistic models.
- Explain the influence of carrying capacity and population density on growth rate.
Using Yeast to Make Scientists: A Six-Week Student-Driven Research Project for the Cell Biology LaboratoryLearning Objectives
- Learn about basic S. cerevisiae biology
- Use sterile technique
- Perform a yeast viability assay
- Use a spectrophotometer to measure growth of S. cerevisiae
- Perform a literature search
- Calculate concentrations of chemicals appropriate for S. cerevisiae
- Generate S. cerevisiae growth curves
- Troubleshoot experimental difficulties
- Perform statistical analysis
- Present findings to an audience
In-class peer grading of daily quizzes increases feedback opportunitiesLearning ObjectivesEach of these objectives are illustrated with a succinct slide presentation or other supplemental material available ahead of class time through the course administration system. Learners found it particularly helpful to have video clips that remind them of mathematical manipulations available (in the above example objective c). Students understand that foundational objectives tend to be the focus of the quiz (objectives a-d) and that others will be given more time to work on together in class (objectives e-g), but I don't specify this exactly to reduce temptation that 'gamers' take a shortcut that would impact their group work negatively later on. However, the assignment for a focused graded group activity is posted as well, so it is clear what we are working towards; if desired individuals could prepare ahead of the class.
Does it pose a threat? Investigating the impact of Bt corn on monarch butterfliesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Apply genetics concepts to a relevant case study of Bt corn and monarch butterflies
- Read figures and text from primary literature
- Identify claims presented in scientific studies
- Evaluate data presented in scientific studies
- Critically reason using data
- Evaluate the consequences of GM technology on non-target organisms
- Communicate scientific data orally