Students received their quizzes from last Friday and we reviewed how to analyze network diagrams. Students learned that when analyzing an edge between two nodes, the arrow of the edge points to the receiving node. For example, of Student A calls Student B, the students would be nodes, and the edge would start at Student A and point toward Student B.
Next, students had time to complete and/or review their organelle flash cards from yesterday. Students were told yesterday that the flash cards were due today, but with the Illuminate website down for much of the day, students received an extra day to complete the flash cards with the expectation that Illuminate is back up reliably tomorrow. Students then worked in small groups of 3-4 and were assigned to draw either a plant cell or an animal cell. First, the drawing must include all of the organelles found in the assigned cell type. Second, students must research interactions between the organelles. Finally, students will use their drawing to construct a network diagram, with each organelle serving as a node, and the relationships between the organelles serving as the edges. Each node must have at least one edge originating from it. Students were permitted to use all available resources, including the class textbook, the purple book (Inside the Cell), and scientifically reliable websites accessed from their phones. Students will have the class period tomorrow to complete the project and Chromebooks will be available. Students are encouraged to research relationships between the organelles as homework this evening.
Networks and systems are a recurring theme in biology, so today’s lesson focused on introducing students to the topic. For the entry task, students were challenged with writing a short story explaining a picture of a squirrel eating a piece of pizza.
The students then transformed their short stories into network diagrams by identifying the key objects in the story and drawing them as nodes (words inside ovals), then connecting the nodes with edges (lines or arrows describing a relationship between the nodes being connected). We shared out a few stories with the class, creating network diagrams of the student stories. After completing the PBIS lesson for the day, we returned to drawing networks – this time, social networks. Students were tasked with meeting all of the other students in class, identifying one thing in common, and writing the relationship as a network diagram. We will use the network diagrams tomorrow for our social network activity.
System – a collection of nodes and edges
Node – the objects in a system
Edge – the relationship between nodes
Network – a diagram of a system
Students who enjoyed the data collection activity today might want to check out Aaron Kobelin’s TED Talk:
After learning how to define networks in lesson 1, and how to analyze a network in lesson 2, students were tasked with constructing a network in lesson 3. Students worked in groups of up to four people to construct an economic network, with each student contributing at least 5 nodes and 5 edges. The ability to understand how networks function, and how to analyze and construct a network will be valuable skills as we move forward in the unit and investigate human body systems, ecosystems, and the integration of the emerging cryptocurrency economy with our study of ecosystems.
For our second lesson on Systems Biology, students analyzed a cell phone model simulation created by the Baliga Lab at the Institute for Systems Biology. The analysis was guided by a worksheet that students turned in at the end of the class.
During the last two months before summer break, we will spend our time studying the field of Systems Biology. The Systems Biology Unit will consist of at least four major parts:
Human Body Systems
Modeling of Ecosystems with Eco-Themed Cryptocurrencies
In lesson 1, students were introduced to the overall structure of the unit. They learned and key vocabulary associated with network analysis, and then applied their learning to define the nodes and edges of familiar systems. Students worked individually or with partners to define a system, and then examples were shared with the rest of the class.