What biological classification system are you using?

Plant, animal, or mineral?

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Ramona
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Postby Ramona » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:06 pm

knobren wrote:Ramona: ...my last post was addressing, not whether you needed to discuss taxonomy in order to discuss these other topics. Bacteria are of "very little use to anyone not specializing in biology," according to Theodore.


I get that. I'm reading the whole thread and trying to put your last post in context of the orig.

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Postby Theodore » Fri Nov 09, 2007 10:56 am

knobren wrote:If you want to talk about how antibiotics work, it helps to understand how the drugs affect bacterial cells and not ours because bacterial cells are different than our cells. For example, penicillin interferes with forming new cell walls, but our cells don't have cell walls, so it doesn't affect our cells. (People can have an allergy to penicillin, but that is an immune response.) Streptomycin affects certain bacterial ribosomes, and therefore, inhibits protein production, but we have a different kind of ribosome, so it doesn't inhibit our ribosomes.

Do you go over cell structure? Bacteria and Archaea don't have membrane-bound organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria. And yet, some bacteria and Archaeans can do photosynthesis and/or cellular respiration.

Plants wouldn't have a source of nitrogen that they could use if it weren't for nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Do you live in a place that has crop rotations of soybeans and corn? Legumes (peas, beans, peanuts, clover) have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules. Some of the ammonium and nitrates leak out into the soil and enrich it for the corn the next year.

Do you discuss nutrient cycling of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon through food chains? Do you discuss the roles of decomposer bacteria and nitrogen-fixing bacteria?

Do you talk about the normal flora in and on our bodies that act as a first line of defense against harmful bacteria?

Do you talk about how cheese, yogurt, and saurerkraut are made and the role of bacteria in these processes? Do you discuss "active cultures" in yogurt?

Did you know that animals can't digest the cellulose that makes up the cell walls of plants and that bacteria (and protists) digest it for termites and ruminants like cows and then the cows, etc. digest the bacteria?


Yes, yes. I know all that. What I'm trying to say is that a knowledge of bacteria is very little use in real life, while a knowledge of plants and animals has much more utility. Biology courses these days are focused entirely on producing scientists, and not on providing what the other 95% of the population needs.

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Postby momo3boys » Fri Nov 09, 2007 2:48 pm

Like in all the other subjects I like to teach things that are actually going to be used in life. Basic life skills. We are studying things that are around us. I didn't know a lot of the information about different cells. I know my boys are much to young to even grasp that though. It should be interesting to see what has developed in secular science by the time they are in High school. I have one "for sure" Scientist. but probably in natural history like his grampa.

Question- what do you call the classifications of plants and animals? The groups, and how many are there for animals? Has any of that changed?
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Postby knobren » Fri Nov 09, 2007 6:08 pm

Theodore wrote:
knobren wrote:If you want to talk about how antibiotics work, it helps to understand how the drugs affect bacterial cells and not ours because bacterial cells are different than our cells. For example, penicillin interferes with forming new cell walls, but our cells don't have cell walls, so it doesn't affect our cells. (People can have an allergy to penicillin, but that is an immune response.) Streptomycin affects certain bacterial ribosomes, and therefore, inhibits protein production, but we have a different kind of ribosome, so it doesn't inhibit our ribosomes.

Do you go over cell structure? Bacteria and Archaea don't have membrane-bound organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria. And yet, some bacteria and Archaeans can do photosynthesis and/or cellular respiration.

Plants wouldn't have a source of nitrogen that they could use if it weren't for nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Do you live in a place that has crop rotations of soybeans and corn? Legumes (peas, beans, peanuts, clover) have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules. Some of the ammonium and nitrates leak out into the soil and enrich it for the corn the next year.

Do you discuss nutrient cycling of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon through food chains? Do you discuss the roles of decomposer bacteria and nitrogen-fixing bacteria?

Do you talk about the normal flora in and on our bodies that act as a first line of defense against harmful bacteria?

Do you talk about how cheese, yogurt, and saurerkraut are made and the role of bacteria in these processes? Do you discuss "active cultures" in yogurt?

Did you know that animals can't digest the cellulose that makes up the cell walls of plants and that bacteria (and protists) digest it for termites and ruminants like cows and then the cows, etc. digest the bacteria?


Yes, yes. I know all that. What I'm trying to say is that a knowledge of bacteria is very little use in real life, while a knowledge of plants and animals has much more utility. Biology courses these days are focused entirely on producing scientists, and not on providing what the other 95% of the population needs.


If you are a farmer or are interested in disease or want to make your own cheese, the examples I gave above would be of practical use.

Tell me Theodore, why is it that when homeschoolers post what subjects, depths of subjects, course materials, and so forth that the teach, they don't get slammed for its relevance or how it contracts someone else's beliefs, but when I try to post some information that someone might be interested in, that is what I get? I don't post messages asking why someone would want to teach creationism or the relevance of learning latin instead of modern languages derived from it. Why should I have to defend my position?

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Postby knobren » Fri Nov 09, 2007 6:22 pm

momo3boys wrote:Question- what do you call the classifications of plants and animals? The groups, and how many are there for animals? Has any of that changed?


I don't teach plant divisions or animal phyla, because I feel that those are only relevant to majors. I don't think those have changed, but some organisms have gotten reclassified in the lower classification schemes as their relationships have been worked out by DNA analysis and other analyses. I don't know if we will still use the term kingdom or not, since the protists have been broken up into several different groups. In any case, I think that teaching plant, animal, and fungal kingdoms would be appropriate. Someday, I suppose that these groupings may be given some name other than "kingdoms" to get rid of the confusion about domains and kingdoms.

So we still have divisions/phyla, class, order, family, genus, and species.

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Postby knobren » Fri Nov 09, 2007 6:56 pm

To clarify, I want my students to learn

1. How science works
2. Several theories (central dogma, germ theory, theory of natural selection, endosymbiotic theory, evolutionary theory, Mendelian genetics)
3. Some of the great science and scientists from the past (Pasteur - laying to rest idea of spontaneous generation and contribution to germ theory of disease, Pasteurization, etc.; Griffith and Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty - DNA as genetic material, Watson and Crick - structure of DNA; Mendel - genetics; Darwin and Wallace - natural selection; the people/papers that influenced Darwin's thinking)
3. What organic molecules are and how they relate to nutrition, cell parts, and function in the bodies of plants and animals
4. How molecules get across cellular membranes and how this relates to the movement of gases and nutrients in and out of the blood stream and plant leaves, stems, and roots, kidney dialysis, etc.
5. How living things are related to one another in the tree of life and their roles in the environment and nutrient cycling and the impacts of pollution
6. How organisms make ATP - photosynthesis, fermentation, cellular respiration
7. The roles of insulin, glucagon, the pancreas, and the liver in regulating blood sugar levels; diabetes
8. How cooking, freezing, and pickling affect enzymes in decomposer bacteria
9. How DNA is copied and separated into new cells by mitosis, meiosis and cytokinesis
10. How errors in DNA replication causes mutations, how mutations affect protein function, and diseases/cancer are caused by mutations.
11. How aberrant chromosomal separation during meiosis can lead to Down syndrome, etc.
12. Issues related to genetic testing
12.Sexual reproduction in humans and flowering plants and asexual reproduction in plants and other organisms
13. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, malaria, viruses, etc.


I think those are all relevant subjects for educated non-majors to know.

It helps them understand how their bodies work. They need to make health decisions, vote for candidates and issues they find relevant, make decisions as consumers regarding nutrition, packaging, distance transported, etc.

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Postby Theodore » Sat Nov 10, 2007 5:06 pm

Not saying that any of that is necessarily bad, just that it's taught to the exclusion of all else. Biology is the study of life, not just the cell and microscopic organisms.

Tell me Theodore, why is it that when homeschoolers post what subjects, depths of subjects, course materials, and so forth that the teach, they don't get slammed for its relevance or how it contracts someone else's beliefs, but when I try to post some information that someone might be interested in, that is what I get? I don't post messages asking why someone would want to teach creationism or the relevance of learning latin instead of modern languages derived from it. Why should I have to defend my position?


Because you're my favorite person? :) No, seriously, it's just because I didn't understand the relevance of your initial post to the Science area of the forum, which is more about science resources and learning science in general than it is about highly specific science facts that will only matter to a small fraction of even Biology majors. If I'm wrong about your post's relevance (anyone who understood its significance immediately please chime in) then I apologize. And the list you just posted is quite interesting, you should edit it into the first post in the thread.

Regarding Creationism vs evolution, you're the one who started debating that with me on the boards originally, I was keeping it to PM's. Let's just call that one a draw and not get into who started it again.

Regarding Latin vs derived languages, that's actually an interesting subject of relevance to many homeschoolers. If you're going to learn a second language - and most homeschoolers probably are - the choice if which one to learn is extremely important, and I believe I've already posted once or twice myself saying I'd rather I'd learned Spanish than Latin. We even have a poll going on what languages people are currently learning (see the link off the Curriculum Discussion board or our homepage). You can debate that one all you want.

Bottom line, of course, you should always stand ready to defend any academic position you post online. If I from time to time disagree with you or ask for clarification, that doesn't mean I hate you personally. I may not even totally disagree, I could be playing the devil's advocate. You have to admit the thread is a lot more interesting now than if it had just stopped at the first post. :)

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Postby knobren » Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:18 pm

Ok, Theodore. I'll learn not to take it personally. It did compel me to explain things in more detail, so that more people might understand what I was saying. It also compelled me to list what I try to teach my students, which I suppose someone might find useful as a guide. :wink:

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Postby momo3boys » Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:40 pm

Thank you for the list Knobren. Regardless of what "version" of science I teach, that is a great list to pull from as goals for biological science. Thank you.
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Postby knobren » Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:17 am

momo3boys wrote:Thank you for the list Knobren. Regardless of what "version" of science I teach, that is a great list to pull from as goals for biological science. Thank you.


I'm glad that it might be of use. I should add "creating and interpreting graphs" to that list. A recent study showed that most Americans can't interpret graphs. No - actually I think it was most college graduates in the US can't interpret graphs.

Again, if anyone is interested, I have study guides, homework, Powerpoint lectures, and links to sites of biological interest on my website at: http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~bdknotts

(Note: as we discovered earlier, users of Firefox can't access the Powerpoint lectures for some reason. Also, it is college level, but mostly a rehash of what they should have learned in high school, if their programs had been set up right.)

-knobren

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Postby Ramona » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:15 pm

Theodore wrote:I didn't understand the relevance of your initial post to the Science area of the forum, which is more about science resources and learning science in general than it is about highly specific science facts that will only matter to a small fraction of even Biology majors... (anyone who understood its significance immediately please chime in)


I thought it was perfectly relevant. I don't choose to take the time to keep up with every little latest change in science and try to be up-to-the-minute in everything I teach my kids, but I can imagine that some parents would value that.

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Postby Theodore » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:39 pm

knobren wrote:I'm glad that it might be of use. I should add "creating and interpreting graphs" to that list. A recent study showed that most Americans can't interpret graphs. No - actually I think it was most college graduates in the US can't interpret graphs.

Do you have a graph for that? :) Would be humorously ironic.

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Postby knobren » Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:36 pm

Theodore wrote:
knobren wrote:I'm glad that it might be of use. I should add "creating and interpreting graphs" to that list. A recent study showed that most Americans can't interpret graphs. No - actually I think it was most college graduates in the US can't interpret graphs.

Do you have a graph for that? :) Would be humorously ironic.


That would be fun!

I tried to Google a source for the graph literacy statisics, but I couldn't find one. I'm pretty sure what I am remembering was a newspaper article published maybe 2-3 years ago. Something pointed me toward the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, but I couldn't find the information there either. Oh well.

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Postby Theodore » Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:33 am

There are so many ways to lie with statistics if the observer isn't careful. My favorite is trimming your graph so it shows just the top few percent, turning what's basically a flat line into an alarming trend :)

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Postby knobren » Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:31 am

By the way, while I was looking for that article about adult literacy, I found a free online graphing site, if you don't have Excel or something on your home computer.

http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx


Another part of the website has 4th and 8th grade quizzes in different subjects. http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/eyk/index.asp?flash=true


I guess there are also some freeware graphing programs available on the web as well.


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