Sunday, February 17, 2013

A reminder to AP Biology teachers

We're knee-deep in molecular genetics now in AP Biology--and it's not your father's biology anymore, or even your older sister's.

She only had to contend with mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA.

Created by WGScott, shared under CC

The biology world has exploded with RNA confetti!

miRNA  siRNA. 
tasiRNA and rasiRNA

While this leads to big fun for old AP teachers who love to joust with other AP teachers (and you know who you are), I realized this week that even my most interested biology superstars can only take so much RNA fun in a month.

I keep about 10 gallons or so of pond water in my basement during the winter months. I pretend I do it to save money--I can overwinter my elodea--but I really do it for my sanity.

Once or twice a week I peer into the bucket, tap its side, and watch the daphnia dance. I watch a water strider hunt, a spider weave, larvae wiggle just under the surface,

I brought in a pint this week, ostensibly to test run our new microscopes. Within this pint lived hundreds of daphnia, and all kinds of other strange critters simply going about the business of living, something my AP students gave up years ago, so that they can live later.

It's a harsh trade, schooling for living. The cracks are starting to show.

With snow on the ground outside, the local ponds half frozen, a few brilliant, exhausted kids peered into a drop of pondwater, and remembered why they fell in love with biology in the first place.  
Wow! Look a this! Yuck! I'll never swim again!

Shame on me for letting them forget.

 I forget every year, too. Time to read Kim Foglia's letter again...


Anonymous said...

Can't see the wood for the trees?
As the mom of a student who said she was not willing to subjugate her life to non-living to maybe get into medical school; as the sister of a doctor who says she would never make it in now, and who sees how many new doctors quit because they have no interest in medicine; I would like to remind everybody that memorization without experience isn't worth a damn.
Thanks for writing.

doyle said...

Dear Anonymous,

The good news is this--in the new course, reading for understanding has a much return than memorization. I truly enjoy the new course.

Still, it's intense, maybe too intense for many who take it. Peeking at daphnia will be a nice break.