The Next-Generation Molecular Workbench

The Next-Generation Molecular Workbench

For those unfamiliar with Concord Consortium’s Molecular Workbench, it is free molecular simulation software used for teaching and learning science. The new, lighter, Next-Generation Molecular Workbench is accessible within your web browser. This should make using the MW with your class much, much easier. I’ve created a couple of free biochemistry review activities to showcase the software’s capabilities.

Cell Membrane Bubble Lab

Cell Membrane Bubble Lab

The other day I was meandering the web looking for new ways to teach about membranes, the cellular variety. In my search I was hoping to find something tangible for my students to experience that might reveal the dynamic and adaptive nature of cell membranes. To my pleasure, I came across something that does an excellent job modeling membranes, soap bubbles.

Science Introduction Videos

Science Introduction Videos

I came across these science introduction videos today while preparing for my unit on cells.  The videos are produced by Virginia science teacher Frank Gregorio.  These short videos are epic.  Sweeping musical scores and high definition imagery are used to introduce a host of topics, ranging from genetics to the properties of water.  Like a dramatic movie trailer, these videos are sure to build anticipation for your next biology unit. As an added bonus, they work on iPads too! If you sign up for a Vimeo account, then you can download the videos in high definition.  I’ve embedded Frank’s video “Introduction to Cells” for your viewing pleasure. Introduction to Cells from Frank Gregorio on Vimeo.   Like using technology and multimedia in the classroom? Click the button below for additional resources you may enjoy. Technology in the...
Water Molecule Model Building Activity

Water Molecule Model Building Activity

Here is a simple activity to help students learn about water’s polar nature.  Students build models of a water droplet while indicating hydrogen bonding between water molecules.  Students also use paper cut-outs to demonstrate the ability of water to dissolve ionic compounds. Water Molecule Model Building Activity I have also included links to several short episodes of a series from the National Science Foundation called Chemistry Now.  These can be helpful during a review of biochemistry.     If you like this activity, then you might also like these biochemistry review activities with interactives from Concord Consortium’s Next Generation Molecular Workbench. Biochemistry Activity: Hydrogen Bonds and Polar Molecules Biochemistry Activity: Protein Folding     Chemistry Now Chemistry of Water (4:46)– It might just be the most universally known fact in chemistry: the chemical formula for water-H2O. This video “profiles” the H2O molecule–its structure, polarity, cohesive and adhesive properties, and water’s properties as a “universal” solvent.   The Chemistry of Ice – This video explains how the molecular structure of H2O changes as it reaches its freezing point, and turns from a liquid to a less dense, solid, crystal lattice. (5:22)   The Chemistry of Salt – This video explains and illustrates the molecular structure of sodium chloride (NaCl) crystals; the structure and symmetry of crystal lattices; and why one crystalline solid, salt, melts another, ice. (6:22)   The Chemistry of CO2: Carbon Dioxide – This video explains and illustrates the molecular structure of CO2; how the bonding of the carbon and oxygen molecules illustrates the Octet Rule, or Rule of 8; carbon dioxide and carbonation; the role of CO2 in the...
Helping Students Make Evidence-Based Claims

Helping Students Make Evidence-Based Claims

Background An important step in constructing scientific explanations is generating evidence-based claims. When students are required to provide evidence in support of what they believe, they are likely to reach a deeper understanding of the content.  An important part of scientific understanding is the ability to evaluate claims based on the quality of evidence used to support them (National Research Council, 2000).  In addition to providing relevant evidence, it is important that students understand the importance of providing a sufficient amount of evidence to strengthen the validity of their claims (Sandoval, 2001). Currently, new science standards are being prepared under the working title “Next Generation Science Standards.”  In preparation for these standards, the National Research Council has written a guiding document, based on the most current research in science education.  The Framework for K-12 Science Education places a strong emphasis on the importance of evidence-based claims. Although the practices used to develop scientific theories (as well as the form that those theories take) differ from one domain of science to another, all sciences share certain common features at the core of their inquiry-based and problem-solving approaches. Chief among these features is a commitment to data and evidence as the foundation for developing claims. (National Research Council, 2012)   Much research has been done in recent years to determine methods for effectively supporting students in the process of writing scientific explanations. Results from this research have indicated that students form deeper understandings when new concepts are taught via scaffolding, that is, when teachers provide more support early and then gradually allow the student to perform independently (Mcneill, Lizotte, & Krajcik,...