Tag: unicellular organisms
It is hard to teach lab-intensive courses without labs. That truth is very apparent to us as we enter the second week of classes with at least another four weeks of work remaining before our labs are ready for occupancy. Though the walls now have sheetrock and mud and tape, the work left to be done is staggering. Finish and paint, installation of doors and windows, flooring and cabinetry and equipment – all these and more are left to do to turn cold, sterile spaces into a home for science. After all, you need an autoclave to teach microbiology; you need incubators to teach the biology of unicellular organisms.
Yet, the work of educating students continues, albeit modified. There are adaptations galore as we find alternative activities that teach the same principles in labless spaces. Today in BIMS 1300 Introduction to Scientific Research we saw a case in point. The topic for the day was use of logic and the scientific method to solve mysteries and problems. What better way to teach that than by playing Clue and Mastermind! Students identified the variables and recognized the problems occurring when one doesn’t isolate and address them. It became clear very quickly that careful annotation of results can help reduce possibilities and hone in on the answer. Students enjoyed an unconventional way of approaching learning central to the work of a scientist. Make an observation, pose a question, predict an outcome, conduct an experiment, analyze the results, and move on to the next question. All of those elements track perfectly with the logic going into figuring out of Col. Mustard did it in the dining room with a rope. At the conclusion of the lab, students fit their decision-making processes into the format of the scientific method. All agreed that this was an exceptionally effective way to get a grasp of the thought processes and skills we all possess to one agree or another that enable us to interrogate nature.
If you have never been to Mesa Verde, you cannot imagine how majestic and awe-inspiring this world heritage treasure is. It represents the most amazing collection of artifacts of a lost civilization that one can imagine.
One of the key elements of the BIMS program is establishing for graduate programs and professional schools our own collection of artifacts to testify to the strengths and abilities of our students. The BIMS program participates in routine assessment of student and program success. We want to document proof of effectiveness in providing students with useful and marketable knowledge and skills, and proof that our courses are effective in meeting the program’s goals. Our flyers for the BIMS program (see BIMS Downloads at the top of this page) outline three lines of evidence (”artifacts”) our students will have of their knowledge and abilities:
- The biological portfolio of biological products (their personally isolated and identified strains of bacteria, proteins and other products of assays and extractions done in lab, gels and other artifacts of productivity in the lab),
- The electronic portfolio (posters of their research, reports, digital photographs and micrographs, etc. – artifacts of their analysis and reporting to the scientific community), and
- Their performance on the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam.
April 5th marks the day the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam is made available to our junior students. It consists of basic, intermediate, and advanced questions over the program goals covered in each of the freshman and sophomore courses:
- Intro to Scientific Research,
- Unicellular Organisms,
- Human Physiology, and
Here’s a sampling of three questions students might find as they take this exam…
Means used for preserving foods and increasing their shelf life typically include
A. Acidification to prevent fungal growth
B. Addition of salt or sugar to lower the pH of the foodstuff
C. Removal of available water and addition of acids
D. Pasteurization to sterilize the foodstuff
E. More than one of these
The germ layer from which the skeletal muscles, heart, and skeleton are derived is the
Within the same individual, some genes mutate at a much higher rate than other genes. This is because
A. Some genes are larger than others providing a greater chance for mutation
B. Some genes have hot spots, which are locations that make them more susceptible to mutation
C. Some genes are larger than others, which prevents DNA polymerase from incorporating the incorrect base during replication
D. A and B
E. B and C
The answer for one of these is A, for one is B, and for one is C. We’ll let you figure out which is which! Or, you can find a BIMS major and ask them for a little help. May your artifact from these three questions match the artifact they will develop as they complete the exam!
Several years ago, Dr. Russell laid out his vision for McMurry’s future in a speech entitled Vision 2023 . Central to that vision was an emphasis on growth of the sciences and their importance in preparing our graduates for jobs of the future. Biology responded to the challenge of building new and relevant programs for life sciences by developing three new, more focused programs. One of these is the BIMS program.
At the same time, the McMurry Capital Campaign, Shaping the Future, has a focus on supporting spaces for the sciences. These two developments led to a competition on campus this fall where programs were challenged with proposing new spaces to fit their new programs and help make their delivery more effective and efficient. Thought was that an invitation to develop a variety of science building proposals would provide a excellent collection of projects that could be shopped to potential donors to help improve all science programs. Biology submitted two lab renovation proposals, one of which was heavily geared toward improving spaces for BIMS courses.
The BIMS proposal calls for several improvements, including renovating and expanding spaces now used for teaching molecular biology and microbiology courses. The current spaces, S115 and S102, are home to labs (and sometimes lectures) for Genetics, Molecular Biology, Advanced Bioscience Techniques, Unicellular Organisms, Intro to Scientific Research, Microbiology, Immunology, and Senior Capstone Research. Obviously, such heavily used spaces are unusual on any campus and thus pose challenges to effective and efficient delivery, especially in a research-oriented approach to teaching. Renovating these spaces to better meet the needs of all students in these various courses is a challenge worthy of lab renovation.
In the competition, a Physics proposal and the BIMS proposal were chosen for funding. The Trustees meet this weekend and hopes are they will approve expenditure of $2.5M from the Capital Campaign to fund the renovation projects. If so, planningand design will begin immediately and the renovation will start in May to be completed before the Fall 2010 semester.
Here is what the BIMS proposal consists of: more flexible spaces that will support both lecture and lab, anterooms for equipment and incubation and project setup so students can work on their projects outside of their normal hours without interefering with other classes using the teaching spaces, a common equipment area for major pieces of equipment that might be used by students in either lab, special spaces for working with RNA and tissue culture, and possibly additional offices and student space for study, group work, and “hanging out”. Our hope is our students will become citizens of the building and not simply tourists, that thinking and acting like scientists will give all our BIMS graduates a leg up on those who have gone through conventional and impersonal science programs.