Final Projects

With the Biology EOC finally in the rear-view mirror, it is time to take what we have learned in Biology class this school year and create something new.  Final Projects are all the rage!  Select a topic below or create your own.  Need a rubric?  Create one.  Your work will be published to our class website for the world to see!

Project Ideas:

  • Redesign HHS
  • Science and Politics
  • Rewilding Burien
  • Tools Scientists Use
  • Science vs Pseudoscience
  • Get Creative!

The Evolution of Education:

You have been tasked with re-designing Highline High School.  Your design must meet the Highline Public Schools Strategic Plan and Instructional Focus criteria.  You are constrained only by the property outline of the school.  Additionally, students must demonstrate mastery of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards using 21st Century Skills.

What is your vision of the ideal high school?  How will it work?

How will students learn?  How will they demonstrate what they have learned?

What will the school look like?

Justify your vision.  What evidence do you have that your solution will improve upon the current school design?  How will your vision result in an improved educational experience for the students who attend?  Why should existing stakeholders support your vision?  

Resources for consideration:

Changing Education Paradigms

Re-Imagining Work

The Power of Introverts

The Invented History of ‘The Factory Model of Education’

Science and Politics:

Have strong opinions about a candidate for President in the 2016 election?  Use your understanding of biology to explore one or more positions taken by the candidate, then research the topic and write an essay exploring your findings.  Your claim must be grounded in fact.  Your evidence must be credible.  Your reasoning must be logical and rigorous.  Your essay should also include a discussion of how science and politics intersect. How do candidates determine their political ideologies? How can voters influence the political process?

Scientists traditionally stay out of politics, choosing instead to let the data stand alone. In your opinion, should science and politics maintain a respectful distance, or should scientists be more vocal in the field of politics? How many scientists hold elected office in local government?  At the state level?  At the national level?  How is science funded?  At the national level, 39 members of the US House of Representatives comprise the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. What is the purpose (jurisdiction) of the committee? How are members appointed? What states or regions are over- or under-represented and what impact might that have on residents and businesses in our state?

Rewilding Burien:

In his TED Talk, British writer George Monbiot introduces us to the concept of “rewilding” – the idea that to promote healthy ecosystems, we must bring back the megafauna and the tertiary consumers that once roamed the land long before humans.  Monbiot reminds us that plants native to a given location co-evolved with other species previously living in the same location, so by studying the native plants we can make inferences about those species even if they are no longer found in that location.  He also argues that humans may simply need to stop trying to “fix” damaged ecosystems and instead step back and let natural selection and homeostasis determine the shape of future environments.

Apply what you have learned to your favorite place on Earth: Burien!  Describe the location as Charles Darwin would have done: what are the major plants, animals, and geologic formations present?  How has the environment changed over time?  Is the ecosystem currently in balance, and how do you know?  From your perspective, what would a healthy ecosystem look like in Burien?  Include credible scientific evidence to support your perspective.  Finally, create a before and after model of the ecosystem and write a detailed explanation of the differences.

Tools Scientists Use:

Real science requires access to real tools.  Scientists working in the lab are surrounded by tools to conduct the experiments that extend knowledge.  To prepare for a career in the lab, visit the HHMI Virtual Lab website and select the lab you are most interested in.  Download and complete the worksheet corresponding to the lab.  While working through the lab, make a list describing the equipment you use.  In addition, make a list describing the assays (types of lab experiments) you use and explain why each assay was used.

Looking for even more challenge?  Research cutting-edge biology lab tools and techniques like CRISPR, RNA Seq, and Seahorse Metabolic Analyzers, Multicolor Flow Cytometry, and Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells.

Science vs Pseudoscience:

Where is the line between fact and fiction?  How do you know?  Watch the Baloney Detection Kit video below and answer the worksheet questions.

Apply your learning to the concept of genetic memory.  As scientists and the public struggle to understand the field of epigenetics, the idea of genetic memory has been proposed in which epigenetic modifications to DNA can be passed down through generations, resulting in memories encoded in DNA also being passed down through generations.  What do you think?  Explore the field of epigenetics and determine the boundaries of what is known (backed by science) and what is conjecture (ideas lacking scientific backing).  Are memories encoded in DNA the realm of science or pseudoscience?  What exactly are memories?

Suggested readings:

Gene Regulation, Illustrated

Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes

Mice Inherit Specific Memories, Because Epigenetics?

How Our Brains Make Memories

Get Creative!

Not feeling inspired by the existing list of ideas?  Come up with your own!  Maybe you have an idea for designing a better biology class – let’s hear it!  Interested in global warming, vaccines, or the future of space travel?  Craft your interests into a solid project and run with it!  Speaking of crafting, how about sharing your love of biology within the context of Minecraft?  Create a virtual learning environment and inspire future biology students!  Perhaps you would rather investigate the biology of your favorite sport?  Should Barry Bonds be in the Hall of Fame?  Will the NFL develop technology to protect players from concussions?  With the Olympics on the horizon, athletes are debating whether to participate and risk exposure to the Zika virus.  What is the Zika virus and how does risk of exposure compare to reports of bacteria completely resistant to all known antibiotics?  What is the future of medicine, and how will our understanding of the microbiome factor in?  A deeper understanding of the bacterial world may pave the way for better understanding soil science: what will future farming look like?  How about farming in space or on Mars?