Within SSERC we have a range of activities which may be useful to support learning and teaching and these are listed in the following sections. Please note that some activities may be useful in more than one Unit and indeed may be useful in other Courses (e.g. Higher Biology, Higher Human Biology) and our categorisation of activities reflects this flexibility.
This Unit focuses on the key role that proteins play in the structure and functioning of cells and organisms. In considering the proteome it builds on the understanding of the genome developed in the revised Higher Biology and Higher Human Biology Courses. The ability of proteins to fold into specific conformations and bind tightly to particular regions of other molecules provides the molecular diversity and activity necessary for the workings of a cell. This flexibility allows proteins to fill roles as enzymes, signals, receptors, channels, transporters and structural components. Signal transduction in particular allows the communication between cells necessary within multicellular organisms, and it is the emergent properties of protein-based signalling pathways that lead to the physiology of whole organisms.
The study of protein is primarily a laboratory-based activity, and consequently the Unit begins with a selection of important laboratory techniques for biologists. This skills-based sequence of concepts leads from health and safety considerations, through the use of liquids and solutions, to a selection of relevant separation and antibody techniques. In addition, much work on cell biology is based on the use of cell lines, so techniques related to cell culture and microscopy are included. The teaching of these techniques could be delivered in an integrated manner within this Unit.
The Cells and Proteins unit is divided into 2 main areas of content viz: Laboratory techniques for biologists, and Proteins. In the sections that follow you will find a series of links to resources and activities – some of these have been produced by SSERC whilst others are from sources which we are happy to endorse/recommend.
This Unit explores the importance of parasites in evolution. The majority of living species on the planet are parasitic, and, naturally, the species that are not parasites are almost certainly parasitised by them. The evolutionary ‘arms race’ between parasites and their hosts requires the constant reshuffling of biological variation that can only be achieved through meiosis. On a macroevolutionary scale, parasites are often considered to be responsible for the maintenance of sexual reproduction. On a microevolutionary scale, mate choice behaviour is often correlated with parasite avoidance.
Biological variation is a central concept in this Unit. Variation is best observed in the natural environment, so this Unit begins with an outline of suitable techniques for ecological field study. Methods of sampling and the classification and identification of organisms are considered. In classification there is a focus on those groups that are commonly parasitic. Mark and recapture is included as one method of estimating population size. For animal behaviour studies, ethograms, time sampling and the avoidance of anthropomorphism are emphasised. The teaching of these techniques could be delivered in an integrated manner within the Unit.
The Organisms and Evolution unit is divided into 2 main areas of content viz: Field techniques for biologists, and Organisms. In the sections that follow you will find a series of links to resources and activities – some of these have been produced by SSERC whilst others are from sources which we are happy to endorse/recommend.
This Unit will give learners a solid grounding in both the principles and practice of investigative biology. Essential ethics for biologists, as well as an introduction to the purposes and forms of different types of scientific communication, are also covered.
Learners are also introduced to the skills involved in analysis and evaluation of scientific reports. The use of data analysis techniques to explore and confirm the significance of findings is described. The planning and carrying out of a 20 hour Biology Investigation is also part of this Unit. This Biology Investigation is designed to provide opportunities to further develop investigative skills through the completion of an investigation. It also provides the opportunity for self-motivation and organisation in the development of a plan for an investigation and the collection and analysis of information obtained.
The Investigative Biology unit is divided into 3 main areas of content viz: Scientific principles and process, Experimentation, and Critical evaluation of biological research. In the sections that follow you will find a series of links to resources and activities – some of these have been produced by SSERC whilst others are from sources which we are happy to endorse/recommend.
Statistics for School Biology Experiments and Advanced Higher Projects
We are delighted to announce that SSERC has recently published ‘Statistics for SchoolBiology Experiments and Advanced Higher Projects’. This guide has been written by Graeme Ruxton (Professor of Biology at the University of St Andrews) and Jim Stafford (Senior Associate with SSERC). Graeme has a particular interest in making the principles of experimental design and the use of statistics in analysing experimental results accessible to the widest range of learners including school students and his book Experimental Design for the Life Sciences influenced the development of the Investigative Biology Unit of Advanced Higher Biology. Jim has been a Principal Teacher of Biology, a Local Authority Science Adviser and Quality Improvement Officer. During his career Jim has worked with various partner organisations on a number of areas of science education, including leadership training, health and safety guidance, and the development of national qualifications in biology.
Copies of the guide can be downloaded here. Additional printed copies, at a cost of £3 each to include postage and packing, are available. To order, please supply a purchase order number and we will arrange for copies to be sent to you on receipt. Orders can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advanced Higher Biology Project Investigations
We are pleased to announce that SSERC has recently published ‘Advanced Higher Biology Project investigations’. This guide has been written by Jim Stafford who is a Senior Associate with SSERC. Previously Jim has been a Principal Teacher of Biology, a Local Authority Science Adviser and Quality Improvement Officer. In his foreword to the guide, Professor Iain Hunter (Executive Dean of Science at the University of Strathclyde), writes:
‘This Guide, from SSERC, fills a much-needed gap for both student and teacher. It provides generic guidance and support for both. It will be invaluable in detuning the anxiety of the Investigation, and enhancing the student experience and attainment’.
Copies of the guide can be downloaded here. Additional printed copies, at a cost of £5 each to include postage and packing, are available. To order, please supply a purchase order number and we will arrange for copies to be sent to you on receipt. Orders can be submitted to email@example.com.
We have gathered together a number of data sets using standard protocols. Access the data sets and associated files here.