Teaching Science

In Our Time: Fungi

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss fungi. These organisms are not plants or animals but a kingdom of their own. Millions of species of fungi live on the Earth and they play a crucial role in ecosystems, enabling plants to obtain nutrients and causing material to decay. Without fungi, life as we know it simply would not exist. They are also a significant part of our daily life, making possible the production of bread, wine and certain antibiotics. Although fungi brought about the colonisation of the planet by plants about 450 million years ago, some species can kill humans and devastate trees.

Linked in the grade 11 biology page.

Gene Rummy Card Game

The bunny-themed card game that helps teach the basic principles of Mendelian inheritance.

We’ve all heard the idiom: “breeding like rabbits”.

Well, here is a card game that brings it to life!

No smell, no fuss, no need for cages!

Here’s a visual way to learn the jargon and the basic principles of Mendelian inheritance while playing a fast-paced card game.

Gene Rummy is a variation of Gin Rummy, which is one of the most popular card games of the mid-20th century, and still popular today. Here at Mink Hollow Media, we’ve been looking for a way to combine our expertise in teaching and science with our decades of first-hand experience playing around with coat colors in rabbits. We think you will enjoy our take on this classic card game, and invite you to learn about the principles of Mendelian Genetics and Inheritance along the way.

Through playing the game and matching phenotypes w/ genotypes as well as determining what can be produced given a specific phenotype, players will learn basic principles of genetics:

  • Familiarity with the standard genotype notation.
  • Terminology: homozygous, heterozygous, gene, allele, locus, genotype, phenotype, dominant, recessive
  • Gene pairs code for specific traits
  • Separate alleles on different loci can interact
  • Genes combine to produce more complex effects
  • Phenotype vs. genotype
  • Homo- vs heterozygous effects

This looks like a fun little game. You can buy a novice version, the full version, or a combination novice+full version. I haven’t tried it in glass yet (I don’t teach grade 11 biology) but the novice version is fast and easy to pick up. When you buy the game you also get lesson plans giving suggestions for how to use it in class.

Linked on the grade 11 biology page.

Gene Pool Card Game

Join the fight against rare genetic diseases by becoming a DNA engineer in Gene Pool, the new fast-paced mind-bending card game! Use strategy and spatial thinking to mutate, invert, delete and insert your way to success! Gene Pool is a card game for two players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play.

How do you play
Gene Pool? You will be competing with your opponent to repair important genes of various length and difficulty with gene therapy. Make these repairs by modifying and rearranging a common DNA sequence. Your current genetic research goals are private, and are only revealed when they can be found within the DNA sequence. Continue repairing genes until one player completes enough research to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and the game!

Featuring amazing new artwork by Ariel Seoane, this edition has significant improvements in aesthetics and design. Along with exciting game play,
Gene Pool retains all the scientific accuracy from earlier editions, and can be used to demonstrate the concepts of genetics across all levels, from molecular models and double helix structure, to individual chromosomes and the whole genome.

This is the third time
Gene Pool has been made available, having sold out of a first hand-crafted edition of 200 copies in 2006, and again selling out of a second limited self-published run of 500 copies in 2009.

Goadrich Games will again be donating a portion of the profits from
Gene Pool to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), a non-profit dedicated to rare disease education, research, and advocacy.

This two-player card game teaches about inserting, deleting, and transposing genes in a DNA sequence. It is simple and fast. I haven’t tried it in class, but I look forward to playing it with my grand-niece.

Linked on the grade 12 biology page.

Fixed link to Here Comes Science

Fixed the link to Here Comes Science, a really cool science-themed children’s album by They Might Be Giants.

Linked in the grade 9 and 10 general science pages.

Phylo: Coral Reef Deck

This deck, hosted by the World Science Festival, is an "expert" STARTER deck due to the unconventional food chains in the habitat being represented. It includes a variety of organisms that are relevant to coral reefs ecosystems. Note that this "advanced" game has been play tested for kids ages 10 and up.

The WSF Coral Reef Deck was produced in collaboration with the 2012 World Science Festival‘s coral reef exhibit, Reefs As Never Before Seen. The exhibit premiered on May 31st, 2012, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

This is a beautiful Phylo deck. You can download it from the Phylo website or have a copy professionally printed at The Game Crafter.

In addition to the reef ecosystem, the game includes event cards for threats like shoreline development, ocean acidification and warming, and too many scuba divers. These make it a useful activity for both the grade 9 ecosystems and grade 10 climate change units.

Linked in the grade 9 biology unit and the grade 10 climate unit.