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Science news story.

Word bank.



Activity 1: Mixed-up meanings.

Activity 2: Comprehension.

Activity 3: Find the missing word.

Activity 4: What kind of statements?

Activity 5: Topic for group discussion or pupil presentations.

Links to free activities, lesson plans and background information.



Daily tip for running science class discussions and groupwork.

News


Cambridge, Mass.: 11-Jan-2007 14:00 Eastern US Time

Big sucker


The world's largest flower is a metre across with a bud the size of a basketball. Rafflesia arnoldii can weigh up to 7 kilograms. But scientists have discovered that it evolved from a family of plants whose flowers are nearly all tiny.
Rafflesia was first discovered in the rainforests of Sumatra 180 years ago. Two men share the credit. Sir Stamford Raffles was governor of the East India Company in Sumatra, and played a big part in the creation of Britain’s far eastern empire. Joseph Arnold was a naturalist and physician.
Arnold described rafflesia as “the greatest prodigy of the vegetable world”. He added that he was glad there were other people there when he discovered it. If there hadn’t been, “I should think I would have been fearful of mentioning the dimensions of this flower, so much does it exceed every flower I have ever seen or heard of.”
Genetic analysis of rafflesia shows that it is closely related to a family that includes poinsettias. These are trees that produce natural rubber, castor oil plants, and the tropical root crop cassava.
The botanists who did the analysis are from Harvard University, Southern Illinois University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Wisconsin. The team was led by Harvard's Charles Davis. The work is published this week in the journal Science.
“For nearly 200 years rafflesia's lineage has confounded plant scientists,” says Davis, an assistant professor of evolutionary biology.
It is a parasite that lives inside the tissue of a tropical vine, he added. “The plant lacks leaves, shoots or roots, making it difficult to compare to more conventional plants.”
Most efforts to trace plants’ ancestors use molecular markers in genes that govern photosynthesis, he said. But rafflesia is a parasite. It does not photosynthesise, and “those genes have apparently been abandoned.”
This meant the scientists had to look at other parts of the plant's genome. By doing so, Davis and his colleagues discovered that rafflesia's blooms evolved rapidly. This took an estimated 46 million years. In that time the flower increased in size by a factor of 79. Then it went back to a more sedate evolutionary pace.
This evolutionary spurt is one of the most dramatic size changes ever reported. If the same thing happened to humans, an average man would end up 146 meters tall, Davis said. This is roughly the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Because rafflesia lacks the genes most often used to trace ancestors, the scientists looked deeper into the genome. They examined 11,500 base pairs of DNA. Remarkably they found that the giant flower's closest relatives are in the Euphorbiaceae family. Many of these have blossoms just a few millimetres across.
The power of nucleic acid comparisons is shown by this stunning deduction, said noted botanist Peter H. Raven. He is president of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, and was not involved in this research. “The massive increase in flower size is one of the most significant among living organisms.” It could never have been deduced by conventional methods, he added.
Rafflesia grows on the jungle floor in parts of southeast Asia. It is unusual in more than just its flower's size. It is a parasite, and steals its nutrients from a plant in the grapevine family. It has no leaves, stems or roots.
It has a shocking, carcass-like appearance. Its blooms are mottled and blood-red. They reek of decaying flesh. Sometimes they even give off heat like a recently killed animal. These traits help the flower attract the carrion flies that pollinate it.
It is surprising to find that such a giant plant evolved from a family of much smaller blossoms, Davis said. But rafflesia is so unusual that before this research it was hard to see how it fitted into any plant family.
“Many botanists had refused to even speculate on where this botanical outlier might fit into the tree of life.”
###

Davis' co-authors on the Science paper are Maribeth Latvis of Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; Daniel L. Nickrent of Southern Illinois University; Kenneth J. Wurdack of the Smithsonian Institution; and David A. Baum of the University of Wisconsin. Their work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, and the Michigan Society of Fellows.

650 words

Flesch reading ease: 57.1



Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 8.6


Word bank


Pupils will not know some of the words used in the text. Meanings are given below, followed by an exercise in matching words and meanings.
Teachers may choose to provide some or all of the meanings to help pupils read and understand the story. An approach that leads to better learning is to ask pupils to complete as much of Activity 1 as possible during their first encounter with the text.
By tackling this exercise and those that follow – which are known collectively as directed activities related to texts (DARTs) – pupils can engage with a piece of writing, and learn a great deal from it, even when many of its ideas and words are unfamiliar to them.






Word

Meaning

1

abandoned

left behind

2

analysis

study of the parts something is made of, and how they work together

3

ancestor

something of the same family that lived in the past

4

base

substance that reacts with an acid to form a salt and water

5

base pair

two base molecules joined together in paired strands of DNA

6

botanist

scientist who studies plants

7

carcass

dead body of an animal

8

carrion

dead and decaying flesh

9

cell

the building block of all living things except viruses

10

chromosome

thread-like structure in living cells. Chromosomes contain genes and are made of DNA and proteins.

11

comparison

comparing

12

conception

fertilisation of egg by sperm

13

confounded

puzzled or confused

14

conventional

done or behaving in the accepted way

15

deduce

work out logically starting from something known to be true

16

deduction

working out logically starting from something known to be true

17

dimensions

size

18

DNA

giant molecule that contains the genes; short for deoxyribonucleic acid

19

DNA sequence

the order of base pairs, whether in a fragment of DNA, a gene, a chromosome or an entire genome

20

dramatic

exciting and impressive

21

estimated

reached by a rough calculation

22

evolution

the way living things alter over time through small changes in each generation that help an individual to survive and produce more healthy young than others of the same species

23

evolutionary

of or by evolution

24

evolved

happened by evolution

25

exceed

be greater than

26

fertilisation

joining of male and female cells to form a new cell that can become a new plant or animal

27

gene

tiny parts of animal and plant cells that control what is inherited. A gene is a section of DNA that does a particular job.

28

generation

all the individuals living at the same time

29

genetic

to do with the genes

30

genome

the full set of genes carried by an individual or species

31

heredity

passing on of characteristics from parents to young

32

inherit

get from parents at conception

33

lineage

line of ancestors

34

molecular marker

gene or DNA sequence that can be used to identify an organism or species

35

molecule

the smallest part of a substance that can exist; made of two or more atoms joined together

36

mottled

marked with spots or patches of colour

37

naturalist

expert in plants and animals

38

noted

famous for a particular reason

39

nucleic acid

complex organic acid present in all living cells. The two types, known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid), form the basis of heredity.

40

nutrient

something contained in food that keeps a plant or animal alive and well

41

organism

a living thing

42

outlier

something far from the centre or normal

43

parasite

animal or plant that lives on or in another, and depends on it for food

44

photosynthesis

process by which green plants trap light energy from the Sun, and convert it to food and carbon dioxide

45

physician

old-fashioned name for doctor. Medical experts were once either physicians, who were educated men but did not get their hands dirty, and surgeons, the practical but uneducated men who performed operations.

46

pollinate

transfer pollen from male to female parts of flowers

47

prodigy

a marvellous thing, especially one out of the ordinary course of nature

48

protein

one of many substances that are the building blocks of living cells

49

rainforest

dense forest usually found on or near the equator where the weather is hot and wet. Around 40% of all animal and plant species on Earth live in the rainforests.

50

sedate

calm and slow

51

significant

meaningful; important

52

species

group of individuals that are alike and can breed together to produce fertile young

53

speculate

suggest explanations and possibilities when evidence is too slight for certainty

54

sperm

the male cell that joins with an egg to produce new life

55

tissue

substance forming any part of an animal or plant

Activity 1 Mixed-up meanings


Pupils should try to fill in the blanks in the final column with the words that match the meanings. The words needed are listed, randomly mixed, in the first column.
This exercise should not be tackled in isolation, but by a reader with access to the story itself: The contexts in which words are used provide powerful clues to their meanings.





Word

Meaning

Word should be

1

cell

left behind




2

evolved

study of the parts something is made of, and how they work together




3

abandoned

something of the same family that lived in the past




4

exceed

substance that reacts with an acid to form a salt and water




5

analysis

two base molecules joined together in paired strands of DNA




6

base pair

scientist who studies plants




7

inherit

dead body of an animal




8

evolution

dead and decaying flesh




9

conception

the building block of all living things except viruses




10

deduce

thread-like structure in living cells that contain genes. Chromosomes are made of DNA and proteins.




11

tissue

comparing




12

comparison

fertilisation of egg by sperm




13

estimated

puzzle or confuse




14

genetic

done or behaving in the accepted way




15

heredity

work out logically starting from something known to be true




16

speculate

working out logically starting from something known to be true




17

dimensions

size




18

DNA

giant molecule that contains the genes; short for deoxyribonucleic acid




19

molecule

the order of base pairs, whether in a fragment of DNA, a gene, a chromosome or an entire genome




20

botanist

exciting and impressive




21

organism

reached by a rough calculation




22

significant

the way living things alter over time through small changes in each generation that help an individual to survive and produce more healthy young than others of the same species




23

ancestor

refers to the development of living things from earlier forms of life through “survival of the fittest”




24

species

happened by evolution. This means through small changes from one generation to the next that help a living thing to survive and produce more healthy young than others of the same species.




25

prodigy

be greater than




26

deduction

joining of male and female cells to form a new cell that can become a new plant or animal




27

nucleic acid

tiny parts of animal and plant cells that control what is inherited. A gene is a section of DNA that does a particular job.




28

parasite

all the individuals living at the same time




29

noted

to do with the genes




30

pollinate

the full set of genes carried by an individual or species




31

rainforest

passing on of characteristics from parents to young




32

confounded

get from parents at conception




33

conventional

line of ancestors




34

base

gene or DNA sequence that can be used to identify an organism or species




35

outlier

the smallest part of a substance that can exist; made of two or more atoms joined together




36

lineage

marked with spots or patches of colour




37

gene

expert in plants and animals




38

photosynthesis

famous for a particular reason




39

molecular marker

complex organic acid present in all living cells. The two types, known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid), form the basis of heredity.




40

fertilisation

something contained in food that keeps a plant or animal alive and well




41

physician

a living thing




42

chromosome

something far from the centre or normal




43

DNA sequence

animal or plant that lives on or in another, and depends on it for food




44

carrion

process by which green plants trap light energy from the Sun, and convert it to food and carbon dioxide




45

generation

old-fashioned name for doctor. Medical experts were once either physicians, who were educated men but did not get their hands dirty, and surgeons, the practical but uneducated men who performed operations.




46

nutrient

transfer pollen from male to female parts of flowers




47

dramatic

a marvellous thing, especially one out of the ordinary course of nature




48

evolutionary

one of many substances that are the building blocks of living cells




49

genome

dense forest usually found on or near the equator where the weather is hot and wet. Around 40% of all animal and plant species on Earth live in the rainforests.




50

mottled

calm and slow




51

sedate

meaningful; important




52

protein

group of individuals that are alike and can breed together to produce fertile young




53

sperm

suggest explanations and possibilities when evidence is too slight for certainty




54

naturalist

the male cell that joins with an egg to produce new life




55

carcass

substance forming any part of an animal or plant





Activity 2 Comprehension





  1. How big is the world’s largest flower?




  1. What does it weigh?




  1. What is it called?




  1. What two men is it named after?




  1. In your own words why was Arnold glad there were other people there when he first saw it?




  1. What is the name for the method the scientists used to find out rafflesia’s relations?




  1. What are its relations?




  1. What was it about the appearance of rafflesia that made it hard to work out what its relations were?




  1. Usually scientists can learn about a plant's relations through its genes. What was it about rafflesia’s genes that made it hard to work out what its relations were/




  1. Can you explain what it means that rafflesia does not photosynthesise?




  1. If it does not photosynthesise how does it get its food?




  1. What is the name for a plant or animal that gets its food in this way?




  1. What happened to the size of rafflesia over a certain period of 46 million years?




  1. Does evolution often do this kind of thing to plants and animals?




  1. Find a word or phrase in the story that supports your answer to the last question.




  1. What do the genes most often used to trace ancestors do?




  1. Why does rafflesia not have any of these genes?




  1. Why is it “remarkable” that rafflesia’s closest relatives are in the Euphorbiaceae family?




  1. Why is rafflesia blood-red with a terrible smell?




  1. Do you think it’s likely that humans will go the same way as rafflesia and end up as tall as the pyramids?




  1. Give a reason for your last answer.




  1. The writer says that rafflesia’s blooms “evolved rapidly”. This took 46 million years. How can that be rapid?




  1. If you were these scientists what question would you most like to answer about rafflesia?




  1. Can you think how you might try to answer that question?


Activity 3 Find the missing word



Pupils should try to fill in the blanks using clues from the rest of the sentence. When in doubt, the length of each blank indicates the length of the missing word. A complete list of words that belong in the blanks is provided at the end of the passage.

Big sucker


The world's largest flower is a metre across ____ a bud the size of a basketball. Rafflesia arnoldii ___ weigh up to 7 kilograms. But scientists have discovered ____ it evolved from a family of plants whose flowers ___ nearly all tiny.
Rafflesia was first discovered in the rainforests __ Sumatra 180 years ago. Two men share the credit. ___ Stamford Raffles was governor of the East India Company __ Sumatra, and played a big part in the creation __ Britain's far eastern empire. Joseph Arnold was a naturalist ___ physician.
Arnold described rafflesia as “the greatest prodigy of ___ vegetable world”. He added that he was glad there ____ other people there when he discovered it. If there ______ been, “I should think I would have been fearful __ mentioning the dimensions of this flower, so much does __ exceed every flower I have ever seen or heard __.”
Genetic analysis of rafflesia shows that it is closely _______ to a family that includes poinsettias. These are trees ____ produce natural rubber, castor oil plants, and the tropical ____ crop cassava.
The botanists who did the analysis are from _______ University, Southern Illinois University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the __________ of Wisconsin. The team was led by Harvard's Charles _____. The work is published this week in the _______ Science.
“For nearly 200 years rafflesia's lineage has confounded plant __________,” says Davis, an assistant professor of evolutionary biology.
It __ a parasite that lives inside the tissue of a ________ vine, he added. “The plant lacks leaves, shoots or _____, making it difficult to compare to more conventional ______.”
Most efforts to trace plants' ancestors use molecular _______ in genes that govern photosynthesis, he said. But rafflesia __ a parasite. It does not photosynthesise, and “those genes ____ apparently been abandoned.”
This meant the scientists had to look __ other parts of the plant's genome. By doing so, _____ and his colleagues discovered that rafflesia's blooms evolved rapidly. ____ took an estimated 46 million years. In that time ___ flower increased in size by a factor of 79. ____ it went back to a more sedate evolutionary pace.
This ____________ spurt is one of the most dramatic size changes ____ reported. If the same thing happened to humans, an _______ man would end up 146 meters tall, Davis said. ____ is roughly the height of the Great Pyramid of ____.
Because rafflesia lacks the genes most often used to _____ ancestors, the scientists looked deeper into the genome. They ________ 11,500 base pairs of DNA. Remarkably they found that ___ giant flower's closest relatives are in the Euphorbiaceae family. ____ of these have blossoms just a few millimetres across.
The _____ of nucleic acid comparisons is shown by this stunning _________, said noted botanist Peter H. Raven. He is _________ of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, and ___ not involved in this research. “The massive increase in ______ size is one of the most significant among living _________.” It could never have been deduced by conventional _______, he added.
Rafflesia grows on the jungle floor in _____ of southeast Asia. It is unusual in more than ____ its flower's size. It is a parasite, and steals ___ nutrients from a plant in the grapevine family. It ___ no leaves, stems or roots.
It has a shocking, ____________ appearance. Its blooms are mottled and blood-red. They reek __ decaying flesh. Sometimes they even give off heat like _ recently killed animal. These traits help the flower attract ___ carrion flies that pollinate it.
It is surprising to find ____ such a giant plant evolved from a family of ____ smaller blossoms, Davis said. But rafflesia is so unusual ____ before this research it was hard to see how __ fitted into any plant family.

These are all the words that belong in the blanks:

a, and, are, at, average, can, carcass-like, Davis, Davis, deduction, ever, evolutionary, examined, flower, Giza, hadn’t, Harvard, has, have, in, is, is, it, it, its, journal, just, Many, markers, methods, much, of, of, of, of, of, organisms, parts, plants, power, president, related, root, roots, scientists, Sir, that, that, that, that, the, the, the, the, Then, This, This, trace, tropical, University, was, were, with



Answer Key:




Big sucker


The world's largest flower is a metre across with a bud the size of a basketball. Rafflesia arnoldii can weigh up to 7 kilograms. But scientists have discovered that it evolved from a family of plants whose flowers are nearly all tiny.
Rafflesia was first discovered in the rainforests of Sumatra 180 years ago. Two men share the credit. Sir Stamford Raffles was governor of the East India Company in Sumatra, and played a big part in the creation of Britain's far eastern empire. Joseph Arnold was a naturalist and physician.
Arnold described rafflesia as “the greatest prodigy of the vegetable world”. He added that he was glad there were other people there when he discovered it. If there hadn't been, “I should think I would have been fearful of mentioning the dimensions of this flower, so much does it exceed every flower I have ever seen or heard of.”
Genetic analysis of rafflesia shows that it is closely related to a family that includes poinsettias. These are trees that produce natural rubber, castor oil plants, and the tropical root crop cassava.
The botanists who did the analysis are from Harvard University, Southern Illinois University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Wisconsin. The team was led by Harvard's Charles Davis. The work is published this week in the journal Science.
“For nearly 200 years rafflesia's lineage has confounded plant scientists,” says Davis, an assistant professor of evolutionary biology.
It is a parasite that lives inside the tissue of a tropical vine, he added. “The plant lacks leaves, shoots or roots, making it difficult to compare to more conventional plants.”
Most efforts to trace plants' ancestors use molecular markers in genes that govern photosynthesis, he said. But rafflesia is a parasite. It does not photosynthesise, and “those genes have apparently been abandoned.”
This meant the scientists had to look at other parts of the plant's genome. By doing so, Davis and his colleagues discovered that rafflesia's blooms evolved rapidly. This took an estimated 46 million years. In that time the flower increased in size by a factor of 79. Then it went back to a more sedate evolutionary pace.
This evolutionary spurt is one of the most dramatic size changes ever reported. If the same thing happened to humans, an average man would end up 146 meters tall, Davis said. This is roughly the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Because rafflesia lacks the genes most often used to trace ancestors, the scientists looked deeper into the genome. They examined 11,500 base pairs of DNA. Remarkably they found that the giant flower's closest relatives are in the Euphorbiaceae family. Many of these have blossoms just a few millimetres across.
The power of nucleic acid comparisons is shown by this stunning deduction, said noted botanist Peter H. Raven. He is president of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, and was not involved in this research. “The massive increase in flower size is one of the most significant among living organisms.” It could never have been deduced by conventional methods, he added.
Rafflesia grows on the jungle floor in parts of southeast Asia. It is unusual in more than just its flower's size. It is a parasite, and steals its nutrients from a plant in the grapevine family. It has no leaves, stems or roots.
It has a shocking, carcass-like appearance. Its blooms are mottled and blood-red. They reek of decaying flesh. Sometimes they even give off heat like a recently killed animal. These traits help the flower attract the carrion flies that pollinate it.
It is surprising to find that such a giant plant evolved from a family of much smaller blossoms, Davis said. But rafflesia is so unusual that before this research it was hard to see how it fitted into any plant family.


Activity 4 What kind of statement?


Students should read the news story on page 1 about the latest scientific research, and highlight phrases or sentences according to the following key (or any other way of indicating the different types of statement that can be done with the resources in their pockets or in your classroom):
Existing knowledge

Reasons for doing the research

Technology and methods

New findings or developments

Hypothesis

Prediction

Evidence


Issues and applications
Normally no more than one phrase or sentence should be highlighted in each paragraph, unless the reader decides that a particular paragraph contains several really important ideas.
Usually the decision will not be too difficult. But choosing between, say, hypotheses and new findings can sometimes be tricky. There isn’t always an obviously right or wrong answer, even to the scientists themselves.
Pupils should be encouraged not to agonise too long over their choice of statement type, but to be prepared to give reasons for their decisions.
Note: A hypothesis is a “tentative explanation that leads to predictions that can be tested by experiment or observation”.


Answer Key: (This is an illustrative set of choices. There are many others.)




Big sucker


The world's largest flower is a metre across with a bud the size of a basketball. Rafflesia arnoldii can weigh up to 7 kilograms. But scientists have discovered that it evolved from a family of plants whose flowers are nearly all tiny.
Rafflesia was first discovered in the rainforests of Sumatra 180 years ago. Two men share the credit. Sir Stamford Raffles was governor of the East India Company in Sumatra, and played a big part in the creation of Britain’s far eastern empire. Joseph Arnold was a naturalist and physician.
Arnold described rafflesia as “the greatest prodigy of the vegetable world”. He added that he was glad there were other people there when he discovered it. If there hadn’t been, “I should think I would have been fearful of mentioning the dimensions of this flower, so much does it exceed every flower I have ever seen or heard of.”
Genetic analysis of rafflesia shows that it is closely related to a family that includes poinsettias. These are trees that produce natural rubber, castor oil plants, and the tropical root crop cassava.
The botanists who did the analysis are from Harvard University, Southern Illinois University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Wisconsin. The team was led by Harvard's Charles Davis. The work is published this week in the journal Science.
For nearly 200 years rafflesia's lineage has confounded plant scientists,” says Davis, an assistant professor of evolutionary biology.
It is a parasite that lives inside the tissue of a tropical vine, he added. “The plant lacks leaves, shoots or roots, making it difficult to compare to more conventional plants.”
Most efforts to trace plants’ ancestors use molecular markers in genes that govern photosynthesis, he said. But rafflesia is a parasite. It does not photosynthesise, and “those genes have apparently been abandoned.”
This meant the scientists had to look at other parts of the plant's genome. By doing so, Davis and his colleagues discovered that rafflesia's blooms evolved rapidly. This took an estimated 46 million years. In that time the flower increased in size by a factor of 79. Then it went back to a more sedate evolutionary pace.
This evolutionary spurt is one of the most dramatic size changes ever reported. If the same thing happened to humans, an average man would end up 146 meters tall, Davis said. This is roughly the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Because rafflesia lacks the genes most often used to trace ancestors, the scientists looked deeper into the genome. They examined 11,500 base pairs of DNA. Remarkably they found that the giant flower's closest relatives are in the Euphorbiaceae family. Many of these have blossoms just a few millimetres across.
The power of nucleic acid comparisons is shown by this stunning deduction, said noted botanist Peter H. Raven. He is president of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, and was not involved in this research. “The massive increase in flower size is one of the most significant among living organisms.” It could never have been deduced by conventional methods, he added.
Rafflesia grows on the jungle floor in parts of southeast Asia. It is unusual in more than just its flower's size. It is a parasite, and steals its nutrients from a plant in the grapevine family. It has no leaves, stems or roots.
It has a shocking, carcass-like appearance. Its blooms are mottled and blood-red. They reek of decaying flesh. Sometimes they even give off heat like a recently killed animal. These traits help the flower attract the carrion flies that pollinate it.
It is surprising to find that such a giant plant evolved from a family of much smaller blossoms, Davis said. But rafflesia is so unusual that before this research it was hard to see how it fitted into any plant family.
“Many botanists had refused to even speculate on where this botanical outlier might fit into the tree of life.”

Activity 5 Topics for group discussion or pupil presentations





  1. People normally try very hard to eradicate parasites because of the damage they do to valuable crops and animals. Rafflesia is different. Communities where this plant grows are often keen to conserve it. In groups, pupils should come up with as many reasons as they can think of why this might be so.

Then the groups should go on the web and try as quickly as they can to find the real reason.


A small prize could be given to the group that a) comes up with most suggestions in a given time, and b) is fastest to find the reason on the web.


  1. Same activity but different question: The news story explains that rafflesia is very hard to classify because it lacks roots and leaves which could be used to identify close relations.

In fact it is an extremely difficult plant to study at all.


In groups come up with as many ideas as possible, in a given time, for why this might be. Then once again research the question on the web to find the answers.

[Teachers’ crib sheet: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~tbarkman/rafflesia/Rafflesia.html ]




Links to free activities, lesson plans and background information.





  1. www.teachersdomain.org/resources/tdc02/sci/life/evo/allinthefamily/index.html Interactive and text for learning how to assemble accurate evolutionary trees by comparing features of living organisms. “Be prepared for some surprises.” Teachers’ Domain. Simple registration required.




  1. www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/education/explorations/tours/Trex/guide/index.html What Did T. rex Taste Like? is an interactive activity to introduce pupils to cladistics, the most commonly used method of classification. Cladistics organises living things by common ancestry and evolutionary relationships, helping us understand life's diversity and evolutionary history. National Science Foundation.




  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poinsettia All about poinsettia. Background.




  1. www.earlham.edu/~givenbe/Rafflesia/rafflesia/biodiv2.htm All about rafflesia. Background.




  1. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/basics/tour/ Excellent interactive introduction, in digestible chunks to genes, DNA and heredity. University of Utah.




  1. www.geology.wisc.edu/~museum/hughes/cladistics_notes.html Cladistics teacher background.




  1. www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/change/family/index.html Flash interactive on how evolutionary relationships are determined. It emphasises the differences between looking at superficial characteristics and shared ancestry. It includes some nice images which can be used for homology and analogy. From the collection of educational resources developed for the PBS Evolution series.




  1. www.backyardnature.net/names.htm All about the practical and biological importance of naming and grouping living things. Rich with examples and written in an engaging narrative style. Some sections: Lumpers and splitters; On the beauty of scientific names; How many kinds of plants and animals are there?




  1. www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/activities/2905_link.html#answer Evolution in action interactive. From Nova.




  1. http://aleph0.clarku.edu/~djoyce/java/Phyltree/cover.html Reconstructing phylogenetic trees with the help of a Java applet.



Links to more links


www.tree-thinking.org/classroom.html Links to a variety of valuable classroom resources
http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/ The Mormon belief in baptism of the dead has stimulated interest and created expertise in genealogy and heredity. This University of Utah website is a great resource for all aspects of genetics research and education.
www.fed.cuhk.edu.hk/~johnson/teaching/genetics/genetics.htm

Daily tip for science class discussions and groupwork



Roundtable
Roundtable structures can be used to brainstorm ideas and to generate a large number of responses to a single question or a group of questions.

  1. Teacher poses question.

  2. One piece of paper and pen per group.

  3. First student writes one response, and says it out loud.

  4. First student passes paper to the left, second student writes response, etc.

  5. Continue around group until time elapses.

  6. Students may say “pass” at any time.

  7. Groups stop when time is called.

The key here is the question or the problem you've asked the students to consider. It has to be one that has the potential for a number of different “right” answers. Relate the question to the course unit, but keep it simple so every student can have some input.


Once time is called, determine what you want to have the students do with the lists...they may want to discuss the multitude of answers or solutions or they may want to share the lists with the entire class.
Adapted from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga teaching resource centre website


real science


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