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Lecture modules - 3. page

What’s important about… biology’s Central Dogma?

‘What to teach’ in Introductory Biology presents a whole host of conundrums. Is our role to cover the breadth of all of biology (or all of the biology student will hear again in upper divisions) at breakneck pace and without depth? A whirlwind tour of vocabulary to commit to memory with vague understanding for some later date? I will argue periodically that we should pick a limited, integrated fraction of possible content and teach it in a way that allows students to see and grasp underlying concepts and universal themes, thereby enabling them to figure out what comes later, and to embark on their own to investigate whatever catches their fancy.Ribosomes translating mRNA

The key ideas of biology’s Central Dogma–or better put, the flow of information— are a critical case in point. We all agree that ‘something’ about DNA, RNA and protein is among our core duties. But what? My view is that identifying the roles of each of these players, how their structures fit them to play those roles, how they came to occupy and the ‘flow’ between them them are straightforward, core ideas in biology.

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New Lecture Components

I’ve made a first stab at adding some lecture component materials (stuff I’ve already researched and collated; note that many of these could be used an in-class exercises or at-home student explorations). These are meant to be collections of inter actives (often simulations or explorations I’ve created), Web and literature resources, and sometimes Powerpoint/Keynotes files and movies from my own lectures.

Yesterday, I made a first pass at Opsin; this joins existing Flu and Cytosine/Uracil/Thymine modules; I also added a bit to the Blue eyes vs. Lactose intolerance set (where we deduce number and timing of origin of human mutations from gene sequence comparison). All are accessible from the link above.