Size Matters

size mattersUnderstanding the Surface Area-to-Volume Ratio

by Caleb Bryce, Kimberly Goetz, Pablo Barrick and Sarah Baumgart

The surface area-to-volume relationship is important for the function of both living things (ex: lung anatomy, tree roots, cell size, brain vascularization) and many human-made objects (ex: car radiators, air conditioning units). By understanding that surface area increases at a slower rate than volume as objects get larger, students can appreciate: why small cell size is advantageous; why plants benefit from a branched network of stems, leaves and roots; and why a variety of everyday objects are shaped and sized the way they are.

In this module, students learn: 1) About the relationship between surface area and volume, 2) Why this relationship is important for cells in our body.

Fellows Kim Goetz and Caleb Bryce produced this video explaining the concept of surface area to volume. A diffusion experiment using colored agar cubes, and various real life examples are used to help students understand this concept.

Docs: fulltext.docx   presentation.pptx   worksheet.docx   worksheetkey.docx
Keywords: HS-ETS1.B, HS-LS1, HS-LS1.B, HS-LS1.F, HS-LS1.G, surface area, volume

A Matter of Human Proportions

a matter of human proportionsAre You Vitruvian?

by Vikram Baliga and Sarah Baumgart

This module is an opportunity for students to learn: 1) How to use the metric system to measure linear distances; 2) Whether proportions that exist between parts of the human body are consistent across individuals; and 3) How to form a hypothesis, analyze data, and argue whether evidence supports the hypothesis.
Docs: fulltext.docx   metric.pdf   worksheet.docx   instructions.docx   handout.pdf   stats.pdf
Keywords: argument, communication, data, evidence, explanations, human anatomy, hypothesis, investigations, HS-LS1.A, HS-LS1.B, HS-LS3.B, math, models, patterns, proportions, questions, structure, systems, vitruvian man

Observing Animals

observing animalsOrganizing and Recording Observations on the Animals All Around Us

by Joe Sapp and Don Brown

This project encourages students to think about how they recognize and classify things they observe in nature, using local insects as a model. Students are asked to identify insects from their area and to think about how exactly they are able to tell them apart. They draw the insects, list any names they might know for them, and learn what defines them as insects. In the process, they learn the basics of insect biology and how to make meaningful scientific observations about the natural world.

Docs: fulltext.pdf   insect.pdf   glossary.pdf   labels.pdf   worksheet.pdf
Keywords: animals, classification, communication, eta, explanations, insects, HS-LS1.B, HS-LS4.A, observation, patterns

Learn From Seabird Barf

what can seabird barf tell us

Seabirds and Marine Debris

by Kristin McCully and Jack Horner

Albatross boluses provide a record of what the seabirds fed on, which often includes plastic marine debris. In this project, each class builds a research question, hypothesis, procedures, and datasheet before dissecting albatross boluses from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and analyzing their results statistically and graphically. This project is framed by discussion of how marine debris impacts marine organisms and how humans can reduce their use and waste of plastics.

Docs: Fulltext.pdf   Worksheet.pdf   Presentation.pdf
Keywords: albatross, data, HS-ESS3.C, explanations, investigations, HS-LS1.B, marine, marine debris, math, models, patterns, plastic, pollution, questions, seabirds, systems

Why Do Organisms Vary?

why do organisms varyGenetic and Environmental Contributions to Trait Variation

by Beth Bastiaans and Ryan Kuntz

In this 2-month project, students design an experiment to assess phenotypic variation in one or more traits. Students use Wisconsin Fast PlantsTM (Brassica rapa). In a breeding experiment, they select a trait and analyze it during two generations of plants. Students create a pedigree by cross-pollinating the first generation with those of other students to generate a second generation of seeds with known parentage. They use linear regression to measure similarity of the selected trait in both generations. The second experiment begins with the offspring generation: students select an environmental variable, and plant enough of those offspring seeds to control that variable, again measuring the selected trait, and using linear regression to analyze effectiveness of that environmental factor.

Docs: Fulltext.pdf
Keywords: argument, data, HS-ETS2.B, explanations, genetic traits, investigations, HS-LS1.B, HS-LS3.A, HS-LS3.B, HS-LS4.B, math, organisms, phenotype, questions, variation