Monday, April 23, 2018

Homeschool Science: CK-12 Biology Chapter 7: From DNA to Protein Synthesis

The kids and I are using CK-12's 9th/10th grade Biology textbook as the spine for this year's biology curriculum--for Will, who is in the eighth grade but who is taking high school-level coursework, this will be recorded as Honors Biology on her transcript.

In addition to that textbook, we're using The Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments as our lab manual, and of course we've got a plethora of other reading/viewing/listening resources and hands-on activities to enrich our study.

The kids read chapter 7 in sections, completing the questions at the end of each section. At the end of the chapter, they took the test (from the CK-12 Biology Quizzes and Tests book) with an open book.

For Section 7.1: DNA and RNA, Syd also watched the BrainPOP videos "DNA" and "RNA," while Will read the entries "DNA" and "The Double Helix" in The Biology Book, a terrific resource that adds historical context to the science that we study. I had Will watch "Lecture 6: The Double Helix" in Great Courses Biology: The Science of Life, but honestly, the lecture seemed even more dry than I'd first thought it was when I was previewing it, so I likely won't assign anymore of these lectures. There are several that do align with CK-12 Biology, though, if you think you can sit through them.

After reading about DNA, I challenged the kids to make models of DNA. They did the research, followed through with construction, and their DNA models, each very different from the other, both turned out great!

Honestly, I could have done DNA models for weeks! I've discovered that I am a BIG fan of crafty science.

The big hands-on activity that we did for this section was from The Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments;extracting DNA from beef liver was quite the scientific adventure! Will needed two tries to get this procedure right, but she was able to work independently from the instructions. Syd needed a lot of guidance, but her Type-A fastidiousness meant that she also got a workable DNA extraction on her first try.

For Section 7.2: Protein Synthesis, I wanted to make the process perfectly clear, so I relied on the same trick that I've used since they were toddlers--the hands-on model! The kids constructed this model of DNA to mRNA to ribosome to tRNA, and it was a comfy way to spend part of a rainy afternoon. After all, don't most kids do their best science snuggled up on Mom's bed?

On a different day, I had the kids practice transcription and translation using this Protein Synthesis and Translation activity from my favorite Teachers Pay Teachers seller, Amy Brown Science. It was a little spendy for a one-time activity--I mean, at $3.25 it's not *really* pricey, but I certainly am not going to budget to pay $3.25 for every lesson I ever do with the kids, you know? Might as well by an out-of-the box curriculum for that money! BUT I already know that Amy Brown Science is high quality, and this activity has the kids practice exactly what I want them to practice, and it's academically rigorous, AND I didn't have to make it up myself. 

$3.25 well spent in this case! 

I spent a LOT of time supplementing Sections 7.1 and 7.2, because the kids really need to understand DNA and the processes of transcription, translation, and protein synthesis. A deep understanding of molecular genetics is not optional! I spent a little less time supplementing Section 7.3, but I did want the kids to understand how the process can go wrong, so I found another Teachers Pay Teachers resource--a free one, this time!

The Genetic Mutations Scrabble Challenge is pretty brilliant--it uses Scrabble tiles and simple phrases to model how genetic mutations occur, and the types of genetic mutations that occur:

It was pretty quick and easy and the kids could both do it independently, but it also made the concept perfectly clear to both of them. This turned out to be an easy chapter to plan!

Only Will had a supplemental activity for Section 7.4: Regulation of Gene Expression. By this section, we'd spent a LOT of time on DNA through protein synthesis and both kids were ready to move on, so I had just Will view this presentation on Visualizing Gene-Expression Patterns, and even then only through Slide 8. Comparative biology is fascinating, but no need to dig in too deep when we're excited and ready to get going on the next chapter.

We watched two Crash Course videos during the course of this chapter:

We used several other resources to supplement this chapter:

Finally, here are some resources that I collected for this chapter, but that we did not use:
There's a smooth transition from this chapter to the next on heredity, and then we leave molecular biology and spend a good, long time on evolution!

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