Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:02 PM
This is a well put together resource, and would serve excellently for use in the classroom. It provides a detailed and interactive history of the development of the genetic model and how varying alleles affect the expression of different types of traits. In addition, it has an an auditory read through of the text to assist any student who has difficulty reading. My only complaint is the use of Adobe Flash to run the interactive diagrams and other functions it contains. In 2020, Adobe will be ending their support of the Adobe Flash program, at which point any online program utilizing it - like many of the science objects found here on NSTA - will become unusable. I strongly urge that these features be upgraded to make use of another digital programming software, such as HTML5. Otherwise, many of the features found within will become obsolete for its users, not allowing users to utilize the full learning experience.
Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:54 PM
Helpful, but outdated information
In terms of general layout of information, this is a helpful resource to help students navigate into an introduction of the different types of nutrients that are present in varying food types, how these nutrients get there in the first place, and their roles in the body. They also provide helpful graphics, interactive diagrams, and readings of text to teach of where the nutrients come from, and their impact in the body. However, there are a few areas of issue. One is in that the animations and diagrams rely on the use of Adobe Flash; in 2020, Adobe will be ending all Web based support of Flash, making any online material utilizing it unusable. In order to keep this science object open for use in the future, the interfaces need to be redone to run off of some other software, like HTML5. The other issues arises from how many of the current standards of the FDA concerning diet are slow to change with the proliferation of scientific data contradicting aspects of their regulations, as well as corporate finances influence these regulations. In terms of cooperate misguidance, an example is how dairy is portrayed as an essential source of calcium. Upon closer inspection, the calcium levels in dairy products pale in comparison to those found in meats, and even more so from dark leafy greens. However, to support corporate interests, dairy companies handily donate finances towards the FDA's efforts, to guide people to buy their products. Finally, FDA warnings about how fats cause heart disease show an example of how stagnant their regulations are to change their policies with new scientifically supported data. This belief arose in the 1960's and 70's that "if you eat fat, you become fat" in the debate for whether sugar or fat caused heart disease. Since then, we have learned that the metabolism breaks down foods in a way that does not allow for that, and that in fact LDL cholesterol, which upon buildup leads to heart disease, is the byproduct of sugar consumption in the diet.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:38 PM
Lesson Relating Science to the Real World
The article describes a process by which students may engage in learning impacts of photosynthesis, the nitrogen cycle, and how plants obtain nutrients in modern agricultural practices, and explore alternative means. It is designed to be utilized in a freshmen biology class, over the duration of 10 80 minute classes, or a total of 800 minutes of class time.
There are several aspects of the lesson which are beneficial to engage students with the material, via inquiry, and its relevance beyond the classroom. For instance, students utilize group collaboration with roles for conducting the extended experiment; the teacher helps assign expectations to these roles to keep students on task. When the lab is done, groups must evaluate ways in which they may iterate their experimental design to improve its performance, if the testing were to be repeated. This includes discussing and interpreting data they collect.
In addition, groups must research a type of agricultural practice that find to be most appealing in design. Then, they create a research paper based around the topic, and prepare for a debate with other groups to try and explain why their chosen method is superior to the other ones, backing their perspective with research from evidence.
The entire process is quite extensive and engaging. However, there are a few problems with its design. Taking near a month in a typical class schedule of near 40 minute classes, the entire lesson engages students in experimental design and research from experimentation and informational literacy; at the same time, no new concepts are taught. Given some states' standards, incorporating this lesson could prove troublesome in trying also to meet the required curriculum goals in a timely manner. If time is a concern, I would consider potentially consider shortening the extent to which students explore the application of previously learned material, or perhaps incorporating new information with the inquiry to branch into other topics.