Documentation:Learning Activities/Science and Math

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Humans Cannot Photosynthesize: Why Not?

Introduction This week, you will work with a partner to answer the following challenge question: “Humans cannot photosynthesize. Why not?” You will post your answer in “Discussions.”

Instructions To participate in Discussion 1, do the following:

  • With your partner, who will be assigned to you by your tutor, discuss possible answers to and your standpoints regarding the challenge question.
  • Using a few sentences, formulate a response that answers why you think humans do not and cannot photosynthesize. To the best of your abilities, incorporate evolutionary theory in your response.
  • Before posting your answer, check it against the Assessment Checklist (below).
  • Post your answer to Discussion 1.

Respond to at least two other standpoints—those of your fellow learners and tutor. Do you agree or disagree with their viewpoints? Why or why not? Remember, it is only the second week, so don’t worry about getting the “right” answer. You will have a chance to revisit this question in Lesson 8, once you are better equipped with in depth knowledge on modern evolutionary theory. In this assignment, your tutor will assess you for all discussion criteria: quality of your post, communication skills, critical thinking, self-reflection, participation, and adherence to online protocol. See the Course Overview for explanations of these criteria.

Also, please remember that discussion posts should be concise. Keep your initial posts to a few paragraphs, and limit your responses to others’ posts to a paragraph or two.

Assessment Checklist

  • We have answered the question to the best of our abilities.
  • For each of our paragraphs, we have included the following: a topic sentence that makes a point, claim, or observation; evidence that illustrates or supports the point; and an explanation of how the paragraph directly answers the question.
  • Our topic sentences relate to each other and support the purpose of theanswer.
  • We have followed formatting requirements.
  • We have used correct, concise language.
  • We have read our writing aloud to check that it lows.
  • We have clearly connected our different ideas.
  • We have guarded against plagiarizing any of our sources.
  • We have edited our answer for its readability.
  • We have checked our spelling and grammar.

Phylogeny of Candy Bars Activity and Blog Post

Introduction

In Weeks 5 and 6, you will participate in a two-part activity and blog posting. For Part 1, you will work in conjunction with your partner to identify the characteristics that differentiate “species” from ten candy bars and complete a phylogenetic analysis of your sample. You will post to the class blog your decisions on the number and type of species you identified. For Part 2, you will work with your partner again to outline your phylogeny and post to the class blog. For both parts, you will comment on peer work posted on the blog.

Learning Outcomes

This exercise is aimed to help you achieve the following:

  • Use recently developed tools and applications in the field of evolutionary biology.
  • Interpret and communicate scientific knowledge and results effectively to a wide audience.
  • Justify arguments effectively, using logical and scientific support.
  • Demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively.

Part 1

At the end of Week 4, your tutor will assign a partner for you. With your partner, who your tutor assigned to you at the end of Week 4, pick ten candy bars, which you will both purchase.

  • During Lesson 5, discuss with your partner how to identify different species of the candy bars and how many different species you can identify in your sample. After doing this, don’t eat your candy bars—keep both the bars and the wrappers, as you will need them for Lesson 6. (Okay, if you can’t resist, you can always buy new ones.) Think about the different definitions of species you were introduced to in Lessons 2 and 3 and which one is most appropriate here.
  • Once you have made your criteria for different species and identified them, write two or three paragraphs with your partner to describe the species you identified and your justification for identifying different species.
  • In your answer, demonstrate your grasp of the learning outcomes for this activity. Post these paragraphs on the class blog.
  • After posting, read what your peers have found. Are you boggled by any results? Please comment on the work of at least two other groups.

Part 2

In Lesson6, with the same partner, revisit your candy bars. This time around, you are looking for characteristics that will help you differentiate between candy bars. Some examples may include: colour of the wrapper, shape of the bar, type of information on the wrapper, texture of the bar, number and type of layers in the bar, and so on. When you have at least fifteen characteristics, start coding your bars for each. Use your coding to reconstruct a phylogenetic tree. For an example on how to do this, please revisit the phylogeny exercise presented in the course materials. Once you have the phylogeny of the candy bars, answer the following questions: Which candy bars are most closely related to one another—which form clades? Are the clades you identified in the phylogeny similar to species you identified in the first part of this exercise? Why or why not? In your answers, demonstrate your grasp of the learning outcomes for this activity. Check your answer for plagiarism and use the Assessment Checklist (below). Post these answers on the class blog. Once you are done, you deserve a taste test!
After you post your phylogenetic tree, read what your peers have found. Are you boggled by any results? Please comment on the work of at least two other groups.


Assessment Checklist

  • We have described criteria for species identification.
  • We have identified and described species of candy bars.
  • or each of our paragraphs, we have included the following: a topic sentence that makes a point, claim, or observation; evidence that illustrates or supports the point; and an explanation of how the paragraph directly answers the question.
  • Our topic sentences relate to each other and support the purpose of the post.
  • We have followed formatting requirements.
  • We have used correct, concise language.
  • We have read our writing aloud to check that it flows.
  • We have clearly connected our different ideas.
  • We have guarded against plagiarizing any of our sources.
  • We have edited our blog post for its readability.
  • We have checked the spelling and grammar.

Online Discussion: Solving Problem Sets

Your tutor will organize you into groups to complete the following problems from your textbook on free energy and metabolism:

    • Problem Set: 13-4, 13-9, 13-10, 13-19 from the 5th edition of Nelson and Cox.

Specific instructions on how to work in your groups to solve these problems will be posted to the Week 2 Discussion area. These weekly problem sets will be more involved and complicated than those that you will find on your quizzes, but a selection of these problems will be found on the final exam.

Online Discussion: What is the Evidence for Evolution?

Introduction We have extensively covered some of the fundamental principles of contemporary evolutionary theory and the history of their development. By this week, you will be in a good position to synthesize information on the development of evolutionary thought and discuss evidence for evolution that has been gathered since the first ideas on the topic have been developed. You will answer the following challenge question: “What evidence supports contemporary evolutionary theory?” Instructions To participate in Discussion 3, do the following:

  • On your own, write a few paragraphs summarizing some of the most striking evidence in support of evolutionary theory and showing how this evidence provides such support.
  • Before posting your answer, check it against the Assessment Checklist (below).
  • Post your answer to Discussion 3.
  • Respond to other at least two other standpoints—those of your fellow learners and tutor. Do you agree or disagree with their viewpoints? Why or why not?

Remember, in this assignment, your tutor will assess you for all discussion criteria: quality of your post, communication skills, critical thinking, self-reflection, participation, and adherence to online protocol. See the Course Overview for explanations of these criteria. Assessment Checklist

  • I have answered the question to the best of my abilities.
  • For each of my paragraphs, I have included the following: a topic sentence that makes a point, claim, or observation; evidence that illustrates or supports the point; and an explanation of how the paragraph directly answers the question.
  • My topic sentences relate to each other and support the purpose of the answer.
  • I have followed formatting requirements.
  • I have used correct, concise language.
  • I have read my writing aloud to check that it flows.
  • I have clearly connected my different ideas.
  • I have guarded against plagiarizing any of my sources.
  • I have edited my answer for its readability.