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Of Biology, Physics and Chemistry which one did you find to be the hardest/easiest?

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Actually I do not have much respect for biology in highschools. What you learn in physics and chemistry there really helps later on if you go to university, but biology is almost always a bit this and a bit that, but not useful at all once you get to university. One the few things that actually have merit are structure of a cell and certain metabolic pathways. At least this is true for all highschool (or equivalent) curricula I have seen to date.

I assume that it is partly because biology is so bloody diverse that a real comprehensive curriculum is hardly possible. And if there is no common theme in which you can wrap your mind around it boils down to memorizing stuff. And that does not help in the long run.

 

To be honest though I have little ideas how to improve it. To date I have only given specialized lectures but I have a hard time thinking about a comprehensive curriculum that does not appear like stamp collecting facts. In University you can at least give practical courses, but they take too long usually to implement them in a meaningful way in highschools.

 

Another problem is that many of the "facts" that are taught can be obsolete once one end up in an uni. Knowledge turnover has increased dramatically at least in molecular biological disciplines.

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I assume that it is partly because biology is so bloody diverse that a real comprehensive curriculum is hardly possible. And if there is no common theme in which you can wrap your mind around it boils down to memorizing stuff. And that does not help in the long run

 

Well there is a common theme, evolution. If biology classes could be taught with the information presented as a single, evolutionary narrative, it would seem that at least the class would give the students something to walk away with, if not specific help in any college classes.

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Well, but how many curricula do actually do a good thing to teach evolution? Just how many (biology students even) know the difference between the darwinistic the neo-darwinistic theories of evolution and the (modern) synthesis.

And to be honest hardly anyone is really sure how to call what is now the prevalent theory (as it has departed somewhat from a number of basic tenets of the modern synthesis).

I agree that it should be taught more and deeper, as it is indeed one of the few common themes, but then a lot of people take bio classes to avoid mathematics. Teaching evolution requires a firm understanding at least of stochastic. I gave a short course in simple statistics for graduate students once, because a lot had serious problems with analyzing the data. I fear that it would be worse in high schools.

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Well, but how many curricula do actually do a good thing to teach evolution? Just how many (biology students even) know the difference between the darwinistic the neo-darwinistic theories of evolution and the (modern) synthesis.

And to be honest hardly anyone is really sure how to call what is now the prevalent theory (as it has departed somewhat from a number of basic tenets of the modern synthesis).

I agree that it should be taught more and deeper, as it is indeed one of the few common themes, but then a lot of people take bio classes to avoid mathematics. Teaching evolution requires a firm understanding at least of stochastic. I gave a short course in simple statistics for graduate students once, because a lot had serious problems with analyzing the data. I fear that it would be worse in high schools.

 

You don't have to teach complex theory. Just link things together in an evolutionary narrative. When you talk about mitosis, don't just make kids memorize "Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase," give them an idea of why this process is important to eukaryotic organisms. I think you're overestimated just how basic the misunderstanding of evolution by most high school graduates really is. It isn't just that they can't figure out a selection co-efficient (heaven knows I couldn't), but that they don't know what selection is.

 

I've known people who have gotten confused and remembered the horrible example of Lamarkianism every biology text book gives (giraffes getting longer necks) as actually how biologists think evolution works.

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Just as I think we should wait a little and teach physics with calculus, I think we should teach Mendelian Genetics/Evolution along with basic probability theory/statistics.

 

In high school biology I learned a bunch of names, organs, bones... In short, they thought biology was about reading a dictionary. Which is basically the exact opposite of what science is, and it's what my signature is about; science is not just a series of unrelated facts, it's an attempt to unify our knowledge of nature. I would argue that a simple concept such as diffusion is much more relevant to our understanding of life than the names of a few of our ancestors, or the name of the xth bone of the leg.

 

I also think that, when evolution is based on the solid foundations of Mendelian genetics, yes, you'll get a little more math, but in my opinion this is a necessity to truly understand the mechanisms of evolution. Hopefully, we would get a little less of the kind of storytelling which is in my opinion highly deleterious to evolutionary theory.

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Just as I think we should wait a little and teach physics with calculus, I think we should teach Mendelian Genetics/Evolution along with basic probability theory/statistics.

 

I definitely agree. This is a part of my education that I really missed out on. The sad part, is that, while I'm taking a bioinformatics class next semester, I don't even think my school offers undergraduate class that teaches Mendelian genetics in this way.

 

I'm taking genetics next year, but from what I understand, 1/3 of the class is mendelian genetics, covering the basic probability and statistics and the rest is molecular genetics and biotech.

 

(and speaking of mathematics of evolution, phil, I haven't heard from you about the project in a while. email me)

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I have to admit that my former high school teacher actually did quite some of Mendelian genetics and statistics, more than required by the curriculum. A nice touch was the inclusion of statistical tests like t-test or chi square. He was an exception though and because a large number of students had very bad marks in these tests he had to stop doing it. Rather sad, actually.

Regarding bioinformatics, I am quite interested to hear, what subject your course includes.

There is a wide variety in these relatively new curricula. For instance, the Uni where I made my PhD had a very strong bioinformatics department. I have given a week's worth of lectures on applied bioinformatics there (out of a total of four week's course). I was basically giving a talk about algorithms for protein alignment, phylogentic tree construction and pattern finding. I was required to explain mathematically quite a number of the statistical models used in them and I think that course was quite good that way.

Then, in an institute during my first postdoc a colleague gave a course about bioinformatics and there he basically showed how to do a BLAST search :doh:

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I'll let you know next semester, CharonY. I don't know that much about the class yet, not too many kids take it, and they haven't even released the name of the instructor yet.

 

From what I gather, we do go into computer modeling of evolution, usually on a single gene basis.

 

Also, I think we go into basic computer tools for genetics, like BLAST, and sequencing. Which will be old news for me, but useful to brush up probably. Most of the students there probably won't have used that stuff before.

The cool part, is that its half lecture, half lab. So, we actually get to implement the stuff we learn right away. At the end of the semester, there's a final project, where you have to do some independent work.

So, I'm looking forward to it, but I'll let you know how it actually turns out.

 

I only know one kid who took it, and he said the class was pretty easy. Calc II is listed as a pre-requisite, but it sounds like the math isn't actually that involved. And you don't need any computer science courses beforehand.

 

edit:

course description: This course uses computational methods to analyze current problems and solutions in molecular biology research. Students are exposed to algorithms and tools available for both single gene and larger scale genome research. Emphasis is on practical application. Laboratories allow students to apply their knowledge to real life molecular biology problems.

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I think it's fair to say we all have different weaknesses and strengths.. for me, I hate forcing memory. Those ionic compounds drove me up the wall!

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Thanks!

 

I got away with only taking biology, chemistry and environmental sciences next year, so buh bye physics.

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Hmm, I took Physics in 9th grade, so it was Algebra-based, and it wasnt too bad. I like physics concepts more than the math... lol

Chem was a pain in the butt, although I still enjoyed it.

Bio was fun.

 

Which is why I'm majoring in psychology :D that was my favorite. lol

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Hmm, I took Physics in 9th grade, so it was Algebra-based, and it wasnt too bad. I like physics concepts more than the math... lol

Chem was a pain in the butt, although I still enjoyed it.

Bio was fun.

 

Which is why I'm majoring in psychology :D that was my favorite. lol

 

 

 

I got good grade in general psychology for college, I thought it was pretty interesting also save for I worried about how much of a "soft" science it was. I think the link between psyc and biology for instance should be emphasized more, not as a evolutionary psychology thing but more or less because death of the brain as a functional organ is pretty serious, also I don’t think highly enough of myself to ever diagnose someone, I mean that’s so complex.

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I was student of science biology. So I know very well about the subjects of the science biology. I think that physics is very tuff subject of the students of the biology because this subject totally depended on the numerals. And biology student's calculations are very slow. So that is too difficult problem.

 

___________________________

clark

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only took physics until my o'levels but afterwards dropped it and continued with biology and chemistry in a'levels. It was mainly because i didn't enjoy physics and so dropped. To be honest the subject you like is what you find easy; in my case i think chemistry is the easiest and then is biology and then physic and this is how my favourite list of science subject is ordered!

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Chemistry.

There was a lack of explanation when it came to visual concepts.

I suspect if someone explained it better, I would have understood it better.

 

A lot of authors suck at writing. I don't know how they get away with it in order to teach the mass public.

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easiest to hardest: physics, chem, bio

 

i hate the deducing questions in chem -.- The question can assume a compound with carboxylic, amide and all kinds of functional groups and then state the observations seen after dunking them into a dozen respective chemicals and tell you to deduce the unknown compound from all the observations made. It kills -.-

 

i think physics is relatively easy but still i get Bs all the time.

 

i never take bio. anything you don't study will seem daunting lol.

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I took one term of Algebra-based Physics, hardest class I've taken yet. However, I also didn't dedicate enough study time to it, so these things are related haha. I'll be starting the sequence over taking Calculus-based probably, so we'll see how that goes.

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From easiest to hardest it goes like this for me: Physics, Chemistry, Biology.

Physics feels inexplicable at times but it’s my favorite and easiest of the three, it’s similar to math; it becomes very simple and fun once a person understand it very well. The only thing I find somewhat difficult in Chemistry is Organic Chemistry; even though I got full marks on the exams but something about it remained sort of mysterious. As for Biology I find it fun to read and very interesting, but I am not very good with subjects that need a lot of memorization, Biology does so it’s kind of difficult for me.

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Yes. It's a lot like asking who's cutest.

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If you talk about sex you are automatically talking about biology. There you go ;)

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The sexiest has to be theoretical and mathematical physics; the ultimate human mental endeavour. How can that not be the sexiest?

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