Biology Homework Chapter 1: What are living organisms?
This homework page has some extra introductory material to help you get started.
Organizing your Work
The following list gives you a general idea of each task you need to complete for our meetings. You may want to copy it to another file or spreadsheet to help you keep track of your assignment completion.
- To prepare for each Biology course chat session:
- ____Check the homework page on the course content site for reading assignments, weblecture links, study activities, optional web reading
- ____Read the textbook sections assigned, making notes for review and listing questions to ask in chat
- ____Read the web lecture posted by the teacher, making notes for review and listing questions to ask in chat
- ____Complete the mastery exercises for the section.
- ____Write your answer to the question assigned to you in the forum
- ____Study the lab assignment and make note of any questions you have on performing the lab; be sure to ask these in chat or email the instructor
- ____Attend chat and ask your questions, defend your forum essay, and participate in the discussion
- After completing a chapter in the text (check Moodle for due dates)
- ____Complete the mastery exercises and achieve 85% or better
- ____Take the Moodle Chapter Quiz: note these have limited availability dates and plan accordingly!
- ____Perform the assigned lab, analyze your data, and post your lab report by the due date
Getting to know the textbook
Your text is organized to present information in different ways to help you learn. Read through the To the Student section on pp. iv-xiii to become familiar with the textbook format and helps. I do not require that you purchase access to MasteringBiology(R), as I consider the extra expense is not always worth the extra trouble of having to log into an external site. We will use our own Moodle site for homework and quiz administration.
- Detailed Table of Contents: This section lists all of the chapters by units and contents, including not only the different subsections, but also the special topics contained in the Connections, Scientific Thinking, and Evolution Connections sections. Because modern biology depends heavily on certain aspects of evolution theory, it is important to see how these dependencies work, so that we understand how any competing theory must answer the same questions.
- Chapter Organization: The first page of each chapter lists the topics in the chapter as Big Ideas (a term used in the AP syllabus). These topic names help you identify the key concepts you should master for each section, since they are the organizing principles for all of the detailed information we study.
- Bold-faced terms: Learning biology means learning the "technical terminology" biologists use to identify specific concepts and ideas. You should make sure that you understand the meaning of each bold-faced term in a section. If it isn't clear from its use in the section, look the term up in the textbook glossary (see below) or a dictionary or Wikipedia, or ask about the term in chat.
- Diagrams and pictures: Many students skip studying diagrams, but in our text, material in the diagrams and pictures is often important — and may not be presented in the text itself. Be sure to study the illustrations and trace the captions to the part of the picture involved. Again, if a diagram confuses you, ask about it in class (use the "Figure #.#" designation in the caption to identify the diagram).
- Chapter Review: The end of each chapter contains materials to help you review:
- Reviewing the concepts: a list of the important concepts with references to the sections in which they are described
- Connecting the concepts: diagrams that show the connections between the chapter's main topics
- Level 1: Knowledge and comprehension, short multiple-choice practice questions to test objective knowledge, usually focussed on terms and concepts
- Level 2: Application/Analysis, several short multiple-choice practice questions along with and essay questions that require you to test your ability to apply concepts to specific situations
- Level 3: Synthesis/Evaluation, short essay questions requiring you to explain concepts or analyze observational data.
I will assign essays similar to these questions to each of you as homework to be entered into the Moodle. These study exercises may take several forms, and will often be individualized (i.e., you will answer a specific question, while other students will answer different questions).
- Appendices: At the end of the text are a number of appendices that can help you answer homework questions or understand concepts. These include metric table conversions, a periodic table, diagrams of amino acids, suggested answers for exercises, the glossary, and an index. The glossary can be very helpful if you run into unfamiliar terms or terms from an earlier chapter that you don't quite remember.
[Most homework pages will start with your reading assignment, like this:]
Textbook assignment: Read all of Chapter 1, Introduction: Exploring Life.
- Section 1.1 This text emphasizes the common properties all living things share: order, ability to reproduce, grow, and develop, to store and use energy, to respond to the environment, to regulate their internal state, and to adapt to changes in the environment. Keep these seven key ideas in mind to help you organize the information in each chapter.
- Section 1.2
If you are used to thinking or reading about the traditional "five kingdoms of life", you may find this section something of a surprise. But the classification of life into different groups is a long history of changing ideas and criteria for organization. Aristotle divided living things into two groups, plants (which don't move about), and animals, which are self-motivated. The discovery of single-celled microscopic organisms in the 18th century resulted in a new group. An understanding of the nature of photosynthesis caused biologists to break fungi out of the plant division and place them in their own. Further research in cell structure in the last fifty years caused scientists to further divide the "single-celled" group into two groups, the bacteria and the protists. This resulted in the five-kindgom organization which has been dominant for the last 20 years or so, with organisms into Monera (bacteria, single-celled organisms without nuclei), Protista (single-celled organisms with nuclei,), Fungi (non-mobile, non-photosynthetic, multi-celled), Plantae (photosynthetic, multi-celled), and Animalia (heterotrophic, mobile, multi-celled).
The domain organization given in the text groups organisms by their internal cellular structure. This domain organization splits the former Monera class into two groups, based on fundamental differences in their DNA. Protists, fungi, plants, and animals are now all grouped together in one domain because of their common eukaryotic cell structure, characterized by the presence of nuclei and certain proteins in the cell walls.
- Section 1.3 We begin with the recognition that all life is composed from the same matter that forms all inorganic substances we observe: atoms and molecules. These are organized into increasingly complex, diverse, and specialized substances and structures, creating different levels of organization that allow us to look for similarities and differences in living substances at each level.
One of biology's major tools is classification. Organizing information at different levels allows the biologist to concentrate on related characteristics. The current breakdown results in a series that leads from (starting with the least complex level) atom and molecule through cell to individual organisms and then to communities and ecosystems is similar to Aristotle's "Great Chain of Being". We look at the classification of organisms by structure, then the classification of biology as a science, then the classification of organisms into groups with similar functions (unity) expressed in different ways (diversity), as explained by the theory of evolution. Finally, we classify the ways in which organisms interact with each other and with their environment. Each section in the introduction provides us with a specific kind of framework for organizing biological information, and we will move from framework to framework as we emphasize different aspects of living things.
- Sections 1.4 - 1.7 These sections briefly summarize what science is, how scientists create and perform experiments, and how they draw conclusions from their observations by using a case study. You've probably read about experimental or hypothesis-based science — it's the classic formulation of the scientific method. Some "orderly observation" is required to document phenomena before hypotheses can be formulated, and some observations are not testable by controlled experiments. So our text identifies two valid scientific methodologies: experiment and directed observations, which rely on both forms of reasoning: inductive for discovery, deductive from experiments. In some ways, inductive reasoning leads to the increasing applicability of some types of knowledge, while deductive reasoning narrows and limits concept application by eliminating theories that don't meet the criteria of explaining a phenomenon. Both are necessary for science to advance our knowledge of nature.
- Section 1.8 As with other fields of science, pursuit of theory and practical application go hand in hand, and reinforce each other. Theoretical discoveries inspire technical developments in two ways: the invention of new observational equipment allows the biology scientist to make new or at least more detailed observations and solve specific questions, and the technologist (particularly the medical professional) can find applications for the new discoveries and the equipment used to observe them in expanding treatment of disease or meeting environmental challenges.
- Section 1.9 - 1.10 Don't let the term "evolution" itself throw you — biologists apply it to any part of a larger theory that explains inheritance and genetic diversities and similarities. Many Creationists and evolution-by-design theories use the same concepts to explain observations of current genetic diversity and similarity. As you read these sections, identify those arguments you find convincing, and those which challenge areas of faith or other experience you rely on to explain the universe.
- Section 1.11 - 1.12 Modern biology relies heavily on DNA structure and function within the cells of all living things to explain both the diversity of life and its common characteristics. The common structures we find are used to support the idea that all living things are related. So are the processes these structures use to reproduce cell components and control cell functions. In the last two decades, the common theme here has shifted from the structures to the flow of information they control. This allows us to see how structure enables function, and and some functions actually dictate structures.
- Section 1.13 Another new emphasis looks at the transfer of energy and the forms it takes as it moves from sunlight to plants to cells to animals. Again, this way of viewing the flow of energy and materials allows us to identify new patterns and new cause-and-effect relationships.
- Section 1.14 Perhaps most challenging is the view of natural objects as parts of systems that interact both within themselves and with their environments. This view of nature draws on modern experience with complex societies and machines, in particular with computers. We'll talk about the insights "systems science" provides to modern science and particularly to biology.
Read the following weblecture before chat: The Study of Life
Take notes on any questions you have, and be prepared to discuss the lecture in chat.
Perform the study activity below:
- Read the Characteristics of Life webpage describing seven major characteristics commonly used to determine whether something is living or not.
- Visit each station in the Characteristics of Life Virtual Lab Can you identify all seven characteristics in each thing shown by direct observation?
- What difficulties did you encounter in determining from a one-time observation whether an object is living or not?
- What additional observations would you need to make to come to a conclusion about the "life" status of objects where you could not make a firm deteermination?
Chat Preparation Activities
- Essay question: The Moodle forum for the session will assign a specific study question for you to prepare for chat. You need to read this question and post your answer before chat starts for this session.
- Mastery Exercise: The Moodle Mastery exercise for the chapter will contain sections related to our chat topic. Try to complete these before the chat starts, so that you can ask questions.
- Required: Complete the Mastery exercise with a passing score of 85% or better.
- Optional: Test yourself with the textbook multiple choice questions and note any that you miss that still don't make sense. Bring questions to chat!
- Go to the Moodle and take the quiz for this chapter.
Read through the lab for this week; bring questions to chat on any aspect of the lab, whether you intend not perform it or not. If you decide to perform the lab, be sure to submit your report by the posted due date.
- Lab Instructions: Field Lab #1.
Also, read sections 1, 2, and 3 of The Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments, and make sure that you are aware of lab safety procedures. If you have any questions on equipment or safety, be sure to ask in class.
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