A growing resources for keeping up with biology is a site known as ScienceBlogs. This site, sponsored by a new science magazine, Seed, brings bloggers with a science theme into one site. It has grown to be a tremendous resource. However, I doubt that it will pass school district filters since these bloggers cover more than just science topics–they cover politics, biology controversies and religion as well. and often they do not censor their own variety of speech. Each of the bloggers have some kind of expertise and had successful blogs before they joined ScienceBlogs.

So how does a biology teacher make use of this site. One quick and easy step would be to check in each day and click on the “Biology” link in the left column. This would take you to the most recent posts with a specific biology focus. Personally, I simply click on the “Last 24 hours” link to view all posts over the last 24 hours. Remember, these folks are publishing their opinions and informed understanding of new research, controversy and such. Not one of the bloggers would expect you to agree with them all the time, nor would they expect you to take their word as the last word on a subject. Read these entries with a critical eye and view this as the process of science. You’ll be able to get in on some of the controversies that you didn’t know existed in biology.

Finally, start with the Science Basics list. This list was a challenge that went out to this community to try and cover just the basic concepts in a field. I haven’t read all of them but some are quite good and some I don’t find so good. Overall, though, I think it is a great place to beef up your own understanding of basic science so that you can pass it on to your students.

NABT/ABT Online Resource



If you are a member of NABT you may not be aware of an exciting new online resource the American Biology Teacher. The American Biology Teacher is now a kind of hybrid journal–part in print and part online. All of the print articles from ABT are available online in pdf format. In addition there are additional articles that are available only online. ABT simply has more articles submitted than can be printed and so there is a back-log for printing which sometimes means an unacceptable delay before publication. Authors now have a choice. If they choose the online-only publication mode, their article is generally shared sooner than a print version would be. This increases the number of articles in each journal for NABT members–a win-win situation. Here’s a listing of February’s 3 additional online articles:

ABT Online

Inquiry & Investigations

Filthy Flies? Experiments To Test Flies as Vectors of Bacterial Disease

Are flies really as dirty as we think? Students create and test hypotheses about the ability of flies to transmit bacteria.

Julie J. Shaffer Kasey Jo Warner W. Wyatt Hoback

French Fries, Dialysis Tubing & Computer Models: Teaching Diffusion & Osmosis Through Inquiry & Modeling

A mini-unit where students design their own investigations and use computer modeling to visualize diffusion and osmosis.

Patricia Meis Friedrichsen Amy Pallant


Use of the Photoactic Ability of a Bacterium To Teach the Genetic Principles of Random Mutagenesis & Mutant Screening

An easy mutagenesis procedure using a versatile photosynthetic bacterium helps students learn about the power of mutant screens.

Neena Din Terry H. Bird James E. Berleman

Log-on to the NABT website and check it out.



If you are not a member, please consider joining–you will find NABT to be a valuable part of your professional life.

Authentic Science Activity

Click here to download a pdf of the Worm Lab Directions

Dorsal Blood Vessel

Key terms: toxicity, pulse rate, blood circulation, Phylum Annelida, Class Oligochaeta, freshwater invertebrate

a model for students to conduct real experiments that they design based on a simple “model organism”known as black worms. With very little effort it is possible to provide students

The student will be able to observe and record the pulse rate of Lumbriculus variegatus ( an aquatic segmented worm).

The student will design and carry out an experiment showing the effect of various substances on the pulse rate of Lumbriculus variegatus.

Follow the link to an Adobe PDF copy of this lab developed by Randy Dix and the American Physiology Society. Additional teaching resources at my site.

These worms were made famous by the late Charlie Drewes and many of the techniques are of his design. His website is an invaluable resource and many thanks go to those that maintain and support his teachings. Continue reading “Authentic Science Activity”

Earth Day/Environmental Science Activity

My is a pretty cool, easy to use online tool that calculates the acres required to support your lifestyle based on a few simple questions. The tool also compares your acreage to the average acreage required by the population in your country. While the activity itself has merit, there are many extensions available such as having students predict which of the input variables would have the most impact on the footprint calculation and then test the prediction. Additional extension activities might be more problem based such as having a team of students come up with a viable strategy that will have the most impact on reducing the footprint while identifying the implementation barriers.



By Sandy Collins


Some time ago I was describing to a colleague, Brad Williamson, a project that I did with my freshmen biology students. It was a laboratory investigation in which the students proposed and tested original hypotheses. Brad’s succinct comment was essentially, fine, but hadn’t I had asked my students to propose hypotheses without allowing them sufficient time to make the initial observations necessary to ask interesting questions. Could he be right again?! Subsequently it also became clear to me that in failing to provide my students with sufficient time to make careful observations, I had denied them the opportunity to begin developing a skill that enhances many experiences – not just those in the science classroom. In an effort to enhance my students’ skills in making detailed observations, I now start the year with a Fruit Fly Observation Project. I describe the project in this paper.

My project is a modification of an activity written by M. Nissani, entitled “Dancing Flies”. The article appeared in the March 1996, issue of The American Biology Teacher. In the original activity, students work through a series of projects in which they observe the behavior of fruit flies and propose and test hypotheses based on their observations. The author summarizes the project as follows: “It fleshes out abstract lectures about life cycles, insect morphology, patterns and causes of animal behavior, and, above all, the nature of science.” My objective in this abbreviated version of the original activity is to offer my students the opportunity to improve their observational skills over an extended period of time by observing a culture of Drosophilia melanogaster.

You’ll find the rest of the lab in pdf format for download here: FRUIT FLY OBSERVATION PROJECT