High school biology courses, both Biology I and Biology II, are the first onramp to a scientific worldview for many high school students.
High school students may have vivid memories of their middle school life science course. They have probably looked at cells under a microscope, and remember how to adjust the microscope and how to fix a sample on a slide. They may have raised a class pet, and they have learned some basic facts about DNA.
Learning facts and vocabulary words, however, was the major graded activity in middle school life science. In high school, biology students need to start getting a meaningful foundation for thinking and talking about the world in a scientific framework.
Easy high school lab experiments that go beyond mere demonstration give high school biology students a chance to focus on thinking like scientists. Every Modern Biology experiment requires students to formulate and test a hypothesis, or maybe several hypotheses. They conduct experiments to confirm or disconfirm their hypotheses about the topic of the unit. Facts and vocabulary are still important, of course, because high school biology students’ relative length of strands of DNA need to pass tests, too. But with Modern Biology, the instructor guide shows you, the teacher, easy ways to reinforce this kind of learning with the hands-on experiences in the lab.
Here are seven easy introductions to the scientific method for high school students.
A kinesthetic experience of actual DNA. For students coming into your biology class, DNA probably exists as a collection of facts and vocabulary words. With Modern Biology’s experiment manipulating actual DNA into visible strands, students begin to realize what a strand of DNA really is. They can formulate hypotheses about the nature of DNA before the lab session begins: Is DNA a blob? Is it hard? Soft? Stringy? After students explore the spooling nature of DNA, they can explore the properties of the DNAase that breaks longer strands into smaller strands.
Teaching students the basics of electrophoresis. Simple experiments about the relative length of strands of DNA, determining the molecular weight of a protein, and identifying sex-specific proteins give you opportunities to reinforce basic concepts about the nature of DNA while you introduce lessons on genetics, forensics, the environment, public health issues and much more. Nicholas C Nelson suggests that you can also include small lessons in chemistry and physics as you explain how to operate the equipment.
Our concentrated agarose gel can be made ahead of time. If it crystallizes, all you have to do is to put it in a microwave (although heating it over a Bunsen burner won’t work). Chances are you won’t be able to complete an experiment in a single lab period. The instructor guides Modern Biology includes with every experiment tell you the stopping points where you can interrupt an experiment, so students can resume work the next day.
You can even (and we suggest that you do) schedule time to make sure your students develop basic skills using a micropipette. They can use good techniques to make sure equal aliquots of test substance and standard reach the wells on either side of the gel.
Modern Biology has simplified capstone projects. Once your students have mastered the basic skills of formulating hypotheses, following instructions, budgeting time, recording results, and evaluating the observations in terms of the hypotheses they made before the experiment, they can move on to experiments that are a lot more challenging and a lot more fun. Your students can create a strain of E. coli that glows in the dark. They can build a bacterial computer. They can master basic skills at ELISA. Your high school biology students can graduate from your course with a hands-on understanding of a fundamental diagnostic tool they will encounter in their personal lives. Or at the very least they will know what ELISA is and how their healthcare providers use it in their diagnosis and treatment.
Not every meaningful capstone activity, of course, has to be an experiment in the strictest sense. Modern Biology’s exercise on sickle cell anemia brings basic concepts of genetics home in a way that reinforces awareness of often-overlooked health issues.
In this unit from Modern Biology, students test their own DNA for sickle cell traits. They can determine whether they are not carriers for sickle cell traits at all, heterozygotes with one abnormal allele, or, as they would surely know before arriving in your class, homozygotes carrying both genes for the condition and experiencing a devastating range of symptoms.
This exercise does more than just allowing your class to learn and integrate concepts of population genetics, blood chemistry, physiology, and evolution. It does more than reinforce concepts of phenotype and genotype, balance polymorphisms, and evolution. This exercise allows your students to understand how genetic traits affect them and people they know, and how biology can enlighten policy to create better health for more people.
Experiments from modern biology help your students develop both critical thinking skills and a holistic understanding of biology and society. They help your students learn the disciplines of written records and time management. They help your students develop the “muscle memory” that helps them expedite experiments more and more efficiently as the year goes on.
And every Modern Biology experiment comes with all the reagents, experiment-specific equipment, and supplies you need for your class, saving you time requisitioning, recording, weighing, and mixing the raw materials your students need for the exercise, all with an instructor guide to make teaching easy. Every reagent Modern Biology makes is non-toxic, and every kit Modern Biology sells has been tested by hundreds, or even thousands, of teachers just like you.
Over 80,000 teachers use Modern Biology to provide enhanced learning experiences to over 500,000 students across the United States. Modern Biology takes the hassles out of teaching biology labs, so you can focus on what you do best without breaking your school’s budget in the process. Discover why thousands of educators rely on Modern Biology.