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American Biology Teacher

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Abstract/ Summary

The authors have developed and field-tested high school-level curricular materials that guide students to use biology, mathematics, and physics to understand plankton and how these tiny organisms move in a world where their intuition does not apply. The authors chose plankton as the focus of their materials primarily because the challenges faced by plankton are novel problems to most students, forcing adoption of new perspectives and making the study of plankton exciting. Additional reasons that they chose plankton to focus on include their ecological importance, their availability to most teachers and students, the ease with which they can be collected and observed, and the current focus of some scientific researchers on their movement and behavior. These curricular materials include a series of inquiry-based, hands-on exercises designed to be accessible to students with a range of backgrounds. Many of these materials could be adapted for use by middle-school, and/or college-level students. In this article, the authors describe sample lessons, summarize what worked well, and flag obstacles they encountered while integrating mathematics and physics into the biology classroom.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Clay TW, Fox JB, Grunbaum D, Jumars PA. How Plankton Swim: An Interdisciplinary Approach for Using Mathematics & Physics to Understand the Biology of the Natural World. American Biology Teacher. 2008;70(6): 363-370.




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