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We propose an experimental model suitable for demonstrating allele frequency change in Drosophila melanogaster populations caused by selection against an easily scorable conditional lethal, namely recessive flightless alleles such as apterous and vestigial. Homozygotes for these alleles are excluded from reproduction because the food source used to establish each generation is accessible only by flight. The observed dynamics of flightless-allele frequencies generally follows the theoretically predicted pattern, with slight deviation toward less intense selection. We also suggest observing selection against flight-independent visible marker alleles in the same population as a meaningful comparison. The proposed experiments can easily be scheduled within one semester, and the expected data provide ample opportunities for discussion of quantitative evolutionary patterns.
It is certainly widely appreciated that there is much to be gained in the fertile crosstalk between science and history — whether bringing a historical perspective into the science classroom Wieder, 2006) or a scientific perspective to the study of history (McElvaine, 2002; Smail, 2008). Perhaps the major impetus for using history in teaching science has been to better transmit a sense of how science actually gets done (Conant, 1948; Johnson, 1996). I describe a different approach: using historical materials not from a history-of-science perspective but in actively developing students' analytical abilities with respect to scientific experiment and current scientific reports.
The national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Initiative favors a curriculum shift from the compartmentalization of math and science classes into discrete subject areas to an integrated, multidisciplinary experience. Many states are currently implementing programs in high schools that provide greater integration of math, sciences, and technology. Program evaluation results indicate that students participating in multidisciplinary team projects of this type exhibit significantly higher levels of motivation and develop greater cognitive skills than students in the traditional, compartmentalized curriculum (Ross & Hogaboam-Gray, 1988; Venville et al., 2000).
Authentic assessment exercises are similar to real-world tasks that would be expected by a professional. An authentic assessment in combination with an inquiry-based learning activity enhances students' learning and rehearses them for their future roles, whether as scientists or as informed citizens. Over a period of 2 years, we experimented with two inquiry-based projects; one had traditional scientific inquiry characteristics, and the other used popular culture as the medium of inquiry We found that activities that incorporated group learning motivated students and sharpened their abilities to apply and communicate their knowledge of science. We also discovered that incorporating popular culture provided “Millennial” students with a refreshing view of science learning and increased their appetites to explore and elaborate on science.
This article describes how to use protein extraction, quantification, and analysis in the undergraduate teaching laboratory to engage students in inquiry-based, discoverydriven learning. Detailed instructions for obtaining proteins from animal tissues, using BCA assay to quantify the proteins, and data analysis are provided. The experimental procedure requires laboratory equipment and supplies that can be found in most biology teaching labs. Suggestions for successful implementation that can lead to original research published in peer-reviewed journals are outlined.
Optimal diet selection, a component of optimal foraging theory, suggests that animals should select a diet that either maximizes energy or nutrient consumption per unit time or minimizes the foraging time needed to attain required energy or nutrients. In this exercise, students simulate the behavior of foragers that either show no foraging preference or demonstrate a foraging preference based on profitability ratios (average energy content of food item, Elaverage handling time, h). Foragers that optimize their diets consistently acquire more total energy in a timed foraging period. The demonstration is scalable to a full laboratory exercise with statistical analysis and graphing activities.