May 13 Draft Projects

May 29th, 2010

Project 1: Global Hunger and Populations

The project presents a model by which users are introduced to global hunger as it relates to population growth.

Users are first introduced to the concept of global hunger and given websites to download table data and images depicting countries with hunger issues. They identify, based on a Global Hunger Index in the table, countries that are suffering most from hunger. They are then asked to develop a list of possible causes that has contributed to such a high hunger index in these countries. The session then focuses on population growth in these countries and introduced to the concept of the demographic transition. Users are directed to the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Population Estimates and Projections Section to query those countries that are experiencing extremely alarming hunger. They download each country’s data and manipulate the data (in Excel) into a format to generate graphs that depict changes in crude birth/death rates over a 100 year span. Users then compare the country’s crude birth/death rates to the typical demographic transition and determine at what year the countries transitioned from one stage to another (if at all). Users are then asked what may happen to the global hunger index of the six countries based on their interpretation of the graphed data.

Additional resource would be to use Gapminder World to visualize population over time, birth vs death over time, etc.

Project 2: Sebastes Data: Using Phylogeny to Consider Biogeography, Evolutionary History and Ecology

Sebastes Distribution has students use geographic distribution and depth data of Sebastes Rockfishes in a phylogenetic context to understand the relationship between biogeography, evolutionary history and ecology.

Students will use the Cailliet Rockfish Depth vs. Age Data from the Numb3r5 Count website (see resources) and access one or more phylogenies that contain many of the species found in the dataset.  Multiple phylogenies with conflicting topologies can be used to develop more complex problem-solving skills.  Internet access for  Fishbase and distribution maps for the Sebastes species is required.

I plan to develop a similar dataset for neon gobies (Elacatinus) that are distributed across the islands of the Bahamas and Caribbean.  Other information can include coloration, depth and feeding ecology.  Some groups can work on this dataset while other groups will use the Sebastes dataset.  Students can then determine whether similar or different biogeographic processes operate between coastal and insular taxa.

This module can be expanded to compare vertebrate species like Sebastes to invertebrate species with similar distributions, or to freshwater fishes.  The same concept can be expanded to include any type of ecological data for any desired taxon.  Students will ultimately learn that similar ecological and evolutionary processes determine the geographic distribution of most living organisms.

Additional Resources

Project 3: Using Image J in Taxis Lab

Students run an experiment in which they place several species of Protistes in trays that  have a dark and light side

Students will test the ability of different protistes to orient and move in relation to light sources. Some protistes are photosynthetic others or not. Students write a prelab where they come up with predictions. They can use any resource.

After a time period students will sample from each side.  Pipette sample onto a slide. They then have to count the numbers of individuals – 100’s of individuals and they are moving!

We are acquiring technology which will allow students to take pictures from their scopes and be able to take pictures from both light and dark samples. They can count by hand or use Image J to estimate the numbers of individuals one each side.

Project 4: Virtual Environmental Field Trips_Bioquest Project

Students working in small groups will develop multimedia “virtual field trips” to locations and situations that are not possible to physically visit during the class.  “These virtual field trips” will be mini-documentaries on selected focus topic issues in environmental science.

Some example focus topics are:

1. “Women, Water, and Wood” (females in less-developed countries spend much of the day transporting water and firewood),

2.  “Dieing for Energy – Deaths, Disabilities, Degradation, and Coal ” (coal mine accidents, black lung, ecosystem impacts of coal mining)

3.  “Oil on Water – Oil Rig Platforms” (economic and environmental cost of offshore drilling).

It is expected that students will use a variety of media in development of their group project: videos, animations, photographs, voice over narrations.  These media resources would be a combination of personally-produced and internet origin.

The “virtual field trip” would be a semester-long project and would replace the traditional term paper in the introductory class.

During the semester projects will be available on a Wiki area of the class website for group members to access and modify. The completed projects will be added to a growing library of “virtual field trips” to be used as educational resources for the class in future semesters.

Project 5: Oxidative Phosphorylation Animations

This is part of a revision to overall presentation of bioenergetics.

Students locate videos/animations on cellular respiration and post them in the class Forum.  Each unique video posted earns the student who located it extra credit points.

In class, the instructor shows a selected set of the videos, asking groups of students to discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and the objectives that each one meets.  As a homework assignment, groups choose two videos to compare.  They write a short analysis comparing and contrasting the selected videos.

Project 6: Epidemiology

Groups in Epidemiology will:

  • Choose a disease interested in
  • Propose a set of possible risk factors
  • Speculate on potential others or others that people might think as possible
  • Propose a series of questions that they would like to know about the disease
  • Do this each week with same disease about the theme for the week   e.g  who is effected – demographic data :   risk factors
  • Locate data  and set up calculation
  • Determine best way(s) to “visualize” data  table  chart   map
  • Summarizes what is learned (Term paper)

Project 7: Extending Quantitative Experiences

This project started with a student lab sheets on a seed germination experiment from Grinnell’s Stat 2 Labs site, which has interdisciplinary labs to teach different types of statistics.  In BI152 we are planning for the final project to be independent experiments on seed germination.

What this lab sheet has is a set of open ended questions for students to think about during the design process.   I want to take those questions and use them throughout the course as students learn various parts of the scientific research process.

Students will learn about are identifiying variables, designing tables and graphs, formulating and writing hypotheses, analyzing data, using statistics.  They will work on writing parts of scientific papers with various labs.  They will have already designed experiments, identified new skills, they add them to what they have already mastered, so the labs get progressively more complex.

I am planning to do is to make this handout more generic so that these quiding questions become a scaffold for the entire course. As we introduce each piece, we may plan to include some of the tools seen in this workshop papers, Gapminder, other computer based resources. Students will have real examples to critique (e.g., bad graph, which study is more convincing and why, problems with controls, etc.).  We may send them to a virtual poster session by other students and do some critiquing of those posters as well as professional posters.

  1. admin
    May 29th, 2010 at 12:07 | #1

    The workshop projects submitted on the final day show breadth of content, diverse cyberlearning approaches, and the use of new resources – including the new labs.

    Thank you for your investment of time and intellectual engagement! Please feel free to contact either Sam or I for further collaboration. Best wishes, Ethel

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