Monday, October 4, 2010

What the "Practical Biolgy" blog is all about (hopefully)

You do not have to have fancy or expensive equipment to run high quality, meaningful biology experiments.  Most everything you need can be accessed through a computer, a local hardware store, or grocery store.  This is one of the more important truths I have learned in my nearly seven years as a community college lab tech and four years as a biology professor.   Most teachers struggle with a general lack time, resources, and money in order to run successful lab activities.  I have also found that too much money and resources sometimes seriously distracts from a meaningful learning experience.  Most educational experiments are most effective when they are simple and to the point.  Overly complicated experimental equipment and procedures result in students focusing too much on on carrying the experiment out and too little on teaching results and concepts.  Low budgets and lack of resources can actually be an advantage to obtaining real results and practical learning opportunities.  While it is often very difficult for teachers to look beyond complicated equipment and experiments, a little creative thinking that looks beyond the "typical" complicated science can go a long way.  Science should be practical and productive for non-scientists and in order to make it so we need to think simply in our application of complex content.  It is my goal with this blog to apply simple, practical, and inexpensive techniques in order to teach more complicated subject matters.  Many simple lab activities can illustrate more complicated subject matter and actually produce something interesting.  For example, yogurt making illustrated fermentation, microbial communities, food preservation, among other things.  Gardening can be used to demonstrate a whole host of things from soil structure, plant biology, and economics.  Hopefully we can wade through these and many other experiments for teaching purposed in the future of this blog.