Tools for Learning Biology

Uploaded by kcasto on 30.10.2008

In addition to providing the information,
especially in a lecture format, the laboratory
setting is one where we've taken a great deal
of effort into giving students a real experience
of what it's like to be a biologist.
So, everything from using the tools of
biologists to observe things from the
microscopic level to the macroscopic to the
ecosystem level.
So they spend some time in lab using those tools;
they go out into the field and use those tools.
They collect data; they analyze data.
So they get repeated practice in, again, the
practice of biology, the scientific process.
We continue that throughout the quarter so it's
building a set of experiences that prepares
them for that final lab exercise in bioethics.
Another thing that they practice: writing in
biology, using the terminology in biology,
especially focusing on asking questions and
creating analogies so that, once they leave this
fairly well structured setting in the Biology
101 class, they can still talk about biology
using everyday language because they
practiced using analogies – translating, if you
will, biology language to, again, that everyday
language that they use and they can communicate with other
students, at least their peers that aren't in Biology 101.
So they're doing everything that biologists do:
observing, collecting data, analyzing that data, communicating.
And bioethics, considering those questions in
biology, is part of that process that every biologist does.
So as much as possible, a very real experience
- allowing those students to step into the shoes
of a biologist and practice those skills.
Finally, I think, one of our goals in the biology
lab is that students recognize that scientists,
and biologists in particular, while they spend a
good portion of their lives – in their
professional life – in inquiry, looking at life
and answering – asking and answering –
questions about living things.
They still share with all the rest of the world
the very similar experiences and biologists are
just as concerned as everyone else about bioethical
issues in their everyday lives.
We want to choose food that's healthy for us.
We want to have access to the latest medical
technologies; we want to make sure that
those things are available to, not only us,
but our family members.
We want to have access to natural areas;
we want to preserve biodiversity.
I mean these are concerns that everyone
shares and it's not just the realm of biologists.
And Biology 101 students, as members of
the voting public, need to be welcomed and
encouraged to participate in those kinds of decisions.