We all struggle with engaging students in science. I know as a high school student I was really intimidated by chemistry and physics and all the memorizing in biology. It was not until I did OAC Biology in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador that I realized biology was also observing animal behaviour and exploring the rainforests and islands to understand ecosystems. This hands-on experience led me to pursue a science degree in animal behaviour and then a masters degree in evolutionary anthropology. To get students to see the value of science and that they can be scientists too, it is key for them to experience the science themselves and see the varied world that science has to offer. Having a scientist come and visit your class is one way to do thi
Taking a bit of a break from my curriculum ideas series I wanted to share my experience this monthtraveling to Madagascar to tour the south of the island and see the spectacular diversity of animal life this African country has to offer. From lemurs to chameleons the wildlife was stunning. However, Madagascar is an extremely poor country, with the poverty rate at 70%. They also have a huge rate of deforestation, with only 7% of their forests protected. Seeing the swaths of mountains that were almost bare of trees was a shock compared to the lush rainforests of the National Parks we visited, which is what all those mountains used to be covered with. Our guide spoke of villages moving once they cut down all the trees around them ( for firewood, charcoal, building materials) to move to a new area where there were trees, just to cut them all down as well. There seems to be little leadership from the corrupt government to protect the natural areas in Madagascar and to lift its citizens from poverty, with non-profits trying to fill in these gaps. Tourism is one of their best bets to bring more wealth and conservation into the country as tourism drives more protected areas so people will come to visit the lemurs that only call Madagascar home, as well as bringing in needed jobs in the tourism sector. I hope reading through the amazing experiences I had gives you an idea for an adventurous trip
Time for another instalment of our biology lesson ideas. Today I have tackled the living systems section of grade 7 science for Ontario schools. Bring your classroom alive with the amazing world of primates with these ideas. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
A Personal Note on Bullying
I am going to take a break from my primate lesson series this week and talk about something a bit more personal. I recently finished watching the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher. If you have not heard about the series that has been blowing up and causing major binge watching the premise is about a teenage girl, Hannah, who creates tapes recording her 13 reasons why she kills herself. Each tape is about a different person/event that led to her to get to the point where she felt she had no other option. The set of tapes are then given to the people talked about on them and her story unfolds.
New biology teaching resources
Time for another installment of our biology lesson ideas. Today I have tackled the living systems section of grade 6 science for Ontario schools. Bring your classroom alive with the amazing world of primates with these ideas. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
New biology teaching resources
It can be tough to come up with new and innovative ways to teach topics that you may have taught many times over. Or maybe you are teaching grade 5 science for the first time and need some ideas. I have come up with a list of 4 ideas that utilize primates to explain and expand on some of the main curriculum ideas in the Ontario guidelines for the understanding life systems section of grade 5 science. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
New biology ideas and resource tips
It can be tough to come up with new and innovative ways to teach topics that you may have taught many times over. Or maybe this is your first time teaching the subject and want some ideas. I have come up with a list of 3 ideas that utilize primates to explain and expand on some of the main curriculum ideas in the Ontario guidelines for the biology section of grade 9 science. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
The Ontario science curriculum has evolution taught in grade 11 biology, but having it taught at this late stage in students education, and only to the ones that elect to take higher level biology, I fear that many students are missing out in understanding this key biological concept. Human evolution in particular is not specifically mentioned in the curriculum and unless biology teachers make an effort to add in this important aspect of evolution than students are missing out about learning about our biological origins. There are many reasons why human evolution may not be part of the formal curriculum. The “controversy” surrounding our origins and fear of push back from parents due to religious concerns is certainly among them.
New biology teaching resources for grade 10 science
It can be tough to come up with new and innovative ways to teach biology and science. Maybe you are teaching grade 10 science for the first time and need some ideas. I have come up with a list of 3 ideas that utilize primates to explain and expand on some of the main curriculum ideas in the Ontario guidelines for the biology section of grade 10 science. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
You might have seen in the news in the last month about a “life sized” Noah’s Ark that has been built in Kentucky by Ken Ham of the Christian religious group Answers in Genesis ( AiG, who believe the earth was made 6,000 years ago exactly as stated in the Bible). Ham and his group do not accept evolution, think that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth happily together and there was a catastrophic flood, none of which have any scientific basis or evidence to back up.
This summer has been a busy one. I visited a variety of GTA and Toronto summer camps for programs ranging from talking about the amazing world of primates, to human evolution, to the evolution of the human brain. It is amazing to see the variety of science and nature themed camps out there for kids. The excitement and enthusiasm I saw during the presentations validated my assertion that primates and human evolution are a great way to get kids interested in science and it can be a great gateway into that world. Here are some of the highlights from my visits:
It is inevitable that kids are going to want to take a break and to relax once the school year endsand that should be embraced. However, there are many ways to encourage your children to explore, learn and keep those brains active that are both fun and educational. Given that living in the GTA we want to take advantage of the few hot months we have in a year, there is no better way to do that then getting you and your kids outside and learning about nature. Even if you are not able to get out of Toronto and head up to cottage country there are many ways to include learning about science, biology while getting outside. Here are my tops 5 suggestions for doing just that with your kids this summer.
In performing interviews with GTA science teachers over the past few weeks to figure out what their main problems and pain points are, so I can better serve them, I found an alarming trend. Teachers biggest issue seems to be that they feel their students are becoming weaker in their knowledge. They have difficulty thinking critically, are hesitant to explore and inquire, and don’t seem curious. They think the internet has all the answers and don’t realize that wikipedia is not a suitable source for citing material. They just want to know the answer, not understand it.
STEM ( or science, technology, engineering and math) is gaining a lot of traction in Toronto and GTA schools and in the general context of education. Why is their such a big push for students to get involved in these topics? It is not only that STEM careers are growing in the world today but also the basic skills that students acquire from STEM, like critical thinking, problem solving and working across disciplines.
It can be tough to come up with new and innovative ways to teach topics that you may have taught many times over. I have come up with a list of 4 ideas that utilize primates and evolution to explain and expand on some of the main curriculum ideas in the Ontario guidelines for grade 12 biology. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
Want a quick history lesson in who Charles Darwin was?
I got the amazing opportunity to visit the Daily Planet studios last week. Daily Planet is a 1 hour show on the Discovery Canada that covers all the latest science and tech news, trying to get people to see how cool science is. Primate Tales is trying to do similar things, by educating children and teens about the amazing world of primates and evolution and how there is a lot of cool things they can study if they pursue science as a career.
"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" by Theodosius Dobzhansky, is my favourite science quote as it sums up perfectly how important evolution is to our understand of biology. Unfortunately in Ontario schools evolution is not required to be taught until grade 11 biology, and that is only to a tiny proportion of students who take biology. This late teaching of such an important topic is a major issue as it can lead to misunderstanding about what evolution is (and is not) and a decrease is science literacy for many Ontario students. Parts of the theory are introduced in earlier grades, like diversity of species, but the theory and concept as whole is not taught till much later. So why is teaching evolution so important?
Sometimes the ideas surrounding evolution can seem complicated and for regular non-science people maybe a little intimidating. There may also be confusion about what evolution actually means, what evolution being theory represents within science. Below are a list of my favourite and most engaging books about evolution. They would be a great addition for teachers to add to a biology or science class that touches on evolution.
Why are we seeing such high rates of bullying at GTA schools, especially in the form of cyber bullying, at the moment? There may have always been bullying but the rise and degree of cyber bullying happening now is beyond what previous generations of children have experienced. What about the internet has allowed children to become so mean and aggressive to each other and is there is a way to increase empathy and compassion students have for each other to help lower the rates of bullying?