The Scientific Method
The scientific method is a set of steps beginning with an observation and collection of information about something. From this information a tentative explanation or hypothesis is generated to explain what is observed. A prediction is then made and the hypothesis is tested by constructing an experiment with a control and variable group. The data is then collected and analyzed. From the data, a conclusion will be drawn (Have Fun Teaching, n.d.)
Although this song only covers the basics of the scientific method, it is very helpful in learning the steps of the scientific method. People often remember lyrics of songs easier than remembering something they read. Also, we retain song lyrics longer than something we read. Music is a very powerful learning tool.
Have Fun Teaching. (n.d.). Scientific Method Song. Retrieved from http://havefunteaching.com/songs/science-songs/scientific-method-song/
Concepts of Chemistry in Biology
Chemistry is a very important part of understanding biological principles. An understanding of the makeup of an atom, chemical reactions and bonding, and the properties of water is the building blocks of how chemicals interact and function within organisms. The role of carbon molecules in living things is especially important in biology. This is known as organic chemistry. The biological macromolecules (lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids) are integral in so many biological processes (Moulton, 2004).
This book is particularly helpful in understanding the role of chemistry in biology. The material is presented in a straightforward and clear manner. Learning chemistry can be daunting, but this resource makes it entertaining.
Moulton, G. E. (2004). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Biology. New York, NY: Alpha Books.
Energy Metabolism of Cells
Energy metabolism in cells can occur in the presence of oxygen (aerobic) or without oxygen (anaerobic). The energy currency of the cell is known as ATP. Depending on which pathway, aerobic or anaerobic, glucose is broken down into pyruvic acid in glycolysis. At this point, if oxygen is present, the oxygen and pyruvic acid will enter the mitochondria where it will go through the citric acid cycle and then the electron transport chain. This will yield 38 ATP as well as carbon dioxide and water. If oxygen is not present, lactic acid instead will be formed (fermentation) and the process will only yield 2 ATP. Although less ATP are formed in anaerobic respiration, it allows cells to continue to produce energy when aerobic respiration cannot keep up with the demand for energy (Wagar & Kozlicki, 2009).
This video was very helpful in learning about energy metabolism in biological organisms. It presented the topic in a clear manner and illustrated an everyday application that makes the information easier to remember.
Wagar, L. and Kozlicki, S. (2009). Cell Metabolism. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=BE&v=bOdhg1J_kQg
Structures and Functions of Different Cell Types
There are three major cell types, bacterial, plant, and animal cells. Bacterial cells are prokaryotic; they do not have a membrane-bound nucleus. Plant and animal cells are eukaryotic; they have a membrane-bound nucleus. Plant and animal cells have several common membrane-bound organelles in common (i.e. mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, etc.). There are some differences between plant and animal cells however. The major differences are that plant cells have a central vacuole, chloroplasts, and a cell wall and animal cells do not (ScienCentral, n.d.).
This PowerPoint presentation was very effective illustrating the differences between different cell types as well as describing the role of different organelles within the cell. In addition to comparing the different cell types (prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic and plant vs. animal), this presentation also reviewed the movement of molecules within the cell (how molecules can move over a membrane).
ScienCentral. (n.d.) Cell Structure and Function. Retrieved from http://www.chipola.edu/instruct//bscppt/alters1eppt/alters1e_ppt_ch05.ppt
What is Life?
The definition of life is the “capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, and reproduce” (Biology Online, n.d.). Using the scientific method, these characteristics could be used in an experimental setting to determine if something is living or not living. Chemicals will always react regardless if a material is living or not. However, in biological cells, there is metabolism, or the conversion of chemicals into energy that allow organisms to grow, respond, and reproduce. The intricate structure of different cell types illustrates how cells have adapted to different environmental conditions over time. Bacterial cells have most likely been incorporated into structures that we now see in plant and animal cells (chloroplasts and mitochondria). Looking for evidence of metabolism (conversion of molecules into energy), growth, reproduction, response to stimuli, and adaptation to the environment could all be tested to determine if something constitutes life using the scientific method.
Biology Online. (n.d.). Life. Retrieved from http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Life