Research Blogging

Research Blog Logo

The web gets better and better every day in the sense that important information is easier to organize, find, and categorize.  This web site is a small example.  Today’s biology teachers have an unprecedented access to original research.  It’s imperative that we take advantage of this in order to keep up with the developments in the field if we are to reflect the biology of today in our classrooms.  I’ve referenced folks at the ScienceBlogs web site a number of times, here on the KABT Bioblog.   ScienceBlogs is a great resource but while the science is generally good, you also have to wade through posts about religion, politics, technology and personal topics to get to the science most applicable for your teaching.  The science bloggers, themselves, recognized this problem not long ago and a new site was born–Research Blogging.  From their web site:

Research Blogging helps you locate and share academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research. Bloggers use our icon to identify their thoughtful posts about serious research, and those posts are collected here for easy reference.

Their web site serves as a clearing house that collects and identifies blog entries from many different blogs that are about specific peer-review ed research.  Look for this icon in the blog post:

Research blog icon

An even easier method is to scroll down the left hand column of the KABT Bioblog and you’ll find a new RSS feed that includes the titles and links of the 5 most recent posts on the Research Blogging site.   If you click on the title it will take you directly to the blog in question.  If you click on the Header it will take you to the Research Blogging site where you’ll find earlier listings and groups of topics to explore.


IABT’s blog–The Leading Strand

I’ve added an RSS feed to the Indiana biology teacher’s blog site over at the bottom of the right hand column.  An RSS feed checks in on the IABT Leading Strand periodically and looks for new postings.  You’ll find the titles of the 5 most recent postings listed in the feed.


More on Fundamentals of Biology…..

We’ve had a few discussions on the fundamentals of biology–what are the essential things to teach or for students to learn.  Over on the Daily Transcript at Science Blogs, you’ll find an interesting post that begins a discussion of the fundamental process in biology of the conversion of genotype (information) into phenotype (networks of networks of machines).  I think Alex’s perspective can really speak to biology teachers trying to help their students learn to think about biology.


Podcast on the Evolution of Morality

Podcast on the Evolution of Morality

Podcast_2 While moral judgment is a trait found in all cultures, there is wide variation among moral systems. In this podcast segment, Science correspondent John Bohannon moderates a panel discussion on evolutionary and psychological perspectives on moral judgment. The panelists were Marc Hauser from Harvard University, David Wilson from Binghamton University, Samuel Bowles from the Sante Fe Institute, and Judith Smetana from the University of Rochester.

Listen to the discussion here.

Monarch Waystations

Monarch Watch Blog

Over the years the Monarch Watch project has adapted as it has tried to meet some of the challenges of monarch butterfly conservation while still promoting monarch research. It seems that monarch winter and summer habitat’s are changing even faster than our new knowledge of this fascinating organism. Early on work done by Monarch Watch researchers and volunteers indicated that the corn belt was essential as summer habitat for the monarch. Soon after that, genetically engineered corn and soybeans appeared on the market placing this habitat at risk from a monarch’s viewpoint. Partially in response to this threat the Monarch Watch began a program really well suited for schools–The Monarch Waystation. These are butterfly gardens specifically designed for monarch reproduction to help replace lost summer habitat. You and your school can help and at the same time provide a superior learning environment.

New starter kits are available now…check it out at the Monarch Watch Blog.


Neat work on the Cell Cycle

For all of you bioteachers out there trying to find a new way to present the cell cycle to your classes (especially you AP Bioteachers) check out Jake Young’s blog post describing a new paper in Cell. Jake does a nice job explaining the paper, I think in a way that is accessible to most biology teachers and students. You may want to incorporate this in coverage of the cell cycle or just as a quick review if you have already covered it.

Vinegar eels in the classroom

One of the easiest organisms to raise in the classroom are the nematodes known as vinegar eels. Recently on the NSTA Biology listserv one of KABT’s own, Candy Surdez had the following to offer. I’ve contacted her and she has agreed to sharing her message here and she’ll be sending a pict or two of her culture. From Candy:

To anyone interested: vinegar eels are one of the easiest to care for. I’ve had cultures that have lasted for several years. Order a culture of them from a biology supply house and I also like to order the vinegar that has the “mother of vinegar” fungus in it rather than just plain cider vinegar, although I think perhaps some have done that. Cut up some fresh apple chunks and add to a clean quart jar along with the vinegar. Inoculate with the culture of vinegar eels, apply lid, and you have a culture that requires no care except for perhaps an occasional fresh chunk of apple and a moderate room temp.

BTW, vinegar eels are perfect for my “Is It Alive?” first-day-of-school activity. I prepare up to 12 stations with objects that are obviously alive, obviously not alive, and quite a few that really make the kids think. Vinegar eels are one of those, because at first glance, the kids don’t see them. Upon closer inspection, either with a hand lens or in a drop of the liquid on a dissecting scope, there are gazillions of the little guys thrashing around.

Another thing: getting kids introduced to a creature adapted to low pH gives lots of learning opportunity for pH, enzymes, adaptations, etc etc. Other subjects you can tackle using vinegar eels: life cycles, reproduction, population size and density, limiting factors, food chains, etc.

Hope this helps!

Candy Surdez
Sabetha High School
Sabetha KS

There are a number of resources on the web that also explain how to culture the worms–seems that they are used as fish food by the fish hobbyists. Here’s a couple of links: Live Food Cultures and Ventral Fins (scroll down for vinegar worms).

Updated 03/02/08:

Candy just sent a photo of her culture that I’m posting here along with the following comment:

But this culture is thriving……if care is taken not to move or shake the jar, thousands of worms can be seen with the naked eye around the edge right at the surface. Students can use a hand lens to enhance their viewing. I do have holes punched in this jar’s lid….don’t know if that’s necessary or not.


vineagar eels

Updated 08/05:

Summertime is a time for catching up.  Recently Candy sent me the 08-is-it-alive-lab that she has written for this lab as well as a 08-is-it-alive-lab-teacher.   She has graciously provided them as word documents so that if you choose to use them you can  edit them to fit your classroom situation.