In many of my lessons, I utilize teaching aids in order to make material more accessible and relatable to students. Below are some examples that I have used. The first set of images illustrates the use of a Hoberman sphere and baseball to demonstrate the effect of temperature on enzyme flexibility and its ability to bind to substrates. I also use a lung model made from a two-liter soda bottle, balloons, and a straw to demonstrate air movement due to Boyle's law. Finally, I use pool noodles to demonstrate mitosis and meiosis to students in my introductory biology classes.
Temperature and enzyme flexibility
Enzymes in hot temperatures becomes more flexible.
Enzymes in cold temperatures becomes more rigid.
A baseball is used to demonstrate the substrate. When the sphere is in a middle state, the ball can be held with the sphere demonstrating the state of the enzyme at peak enzyme activity.
Lung model to demonstrate Boyle's Law
Pool noodles used to demonstrate meiosis and mitosis
Natural Selection Lesson: bug natural selection model
In this activity, students use a model of natural selection acting on a population of bugs. The lesson uses the model to help students test the three requirements for natural selection to occur by manipulating them within the model.
Describe Darwin’s theories and explain how heritable variations and limits on reproductive success lead to differential reproduction (natural selection).
Propose explanations for the rise of adaptations that are consistent with evolution by natural selection.
Compare and contrast Lamarck’s hypothesis of evolution by inheritance of acquired characteristics and Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection
Introduction to Active Learning
Because I use evidence-based teaching in my classrooms, I usually begin the semester with an activity to explain to students why I teach using a structured, active learning approach rather than a traditional lecture approach. The activity also serves to break down barriers between the students and me in order to make me seem more approachable.
Population Growth using the Logistic Growth Model
This activity is used in introductory biology classes and was adapted from Trenckman et al., 2017. The students are already familiar with exponential growth models and are introduced to logistic growth using this activity. The lesson is designed to help students become more comfortable with quantitative methods along with learning the concepts.
Define and describe the following terms: population density, carrying capacity (K)
Explain what factors can cause populations to reach their carrying capacity, K and connect this idea to population growth (S curves)
Predict population size using logistic growth models (Nt = N1 + rN1 [(K - N1)/ K])
Visually represent how populations change over time by constructing graphs
Nest-site Selection in Honeybees
Developing the ability to use the scientific method in order to understand animal behavior is a key component of any animal behavior course. The animal behavior course I teach enrolls 170 students and does not have a lab component. I use agent-based models to give students the opportunity to practice creating hypotheses, designing experiments, collecting data, and interpreting those data in lecture setting. One example of such an agent-based model is a honeybee nest-site selection model I use to teach students about group decision-making and social behavior. The model is based on known honeybee nest-site selection behavior.
Compare and contrast the costs and benefits of group living
Ability to develop a hypothesis/prediction and design an experiment
Interpret data to explain group-decision making of social animals