Oh, Behave! Experiences at NABT 2014

Written by: Emily Weigel

Primary Source: Choice Words with Choosy_Female

Oh Behave by rumper1(Austin Powers Movie, Photo from Deviant Art)

I just got back from presenting at the National Association of Biology Teacher’s annual meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the mountains of snow, I had a really fun time and met plenty of outstanding teachers in biology and biology education. I was lucky enough to be able to go this year through an invitation from the BEACON/NESCent organizers of the Evolution Symposium. They gave me the task (*gulp*) to conduct a teacher workshop on a recent lesson I and my collaborators published:

Weigel, E. G., DeNieu, M., & Gall, A.J. (2014). Oh, Behave! Behavior as an interaction between genes and the environment. The American Biology Teacher.76(7): 460-465.

This lesson is designed to show the genes and the environment interact to form behaviors, and because the behaviors can change over time, they are subject to evolution. Students first read a review paper on how genes and behavior interact, then model relationships for examples given in the paper. Students are then presented with a novel example from primary literature on imprinting in stickleback. Students are then expected to make predictions and model the relationship between environment, genes, and evolution in forming this behavior.

Click here for the workshop slides from the 2014 NABT Meeting highlighting this lesson

Those wishing to do the lesson can also email me for the papers, or contact me or the authors directly. They love for their work to be used in education!

You can also expand the lesson through HHMI’s resources on sticklebacks (videos, lesson plans, virtual labs): http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/browse?kw=stickleback

For those wanting to use Data Nuggets (real research data) on sticklebacks, please check out my labmate Alycia Lackey’s two lesson plans here on mate choice and male competition: http://datanuggets.org/2014/06/which-guy-should-she-choose/ http://datanuggets.org/2014/06/fish-fights/ These have teacher guides, rubrics, and student worksheets scalable to your students’ needs and abilities.

Yay for teaching bio, and all the teachers that push their students to master it!

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Emily Weigel
Emily Weigel (@Choosy_Female) is Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus on interdisciplinary research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. At MSU, Weigel conducts research in the lab of Dr. Jenny Boughman and is affiliated with the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Her dissertation research focuses on how female choice and investment interact with male mating strategies. Additionally, Weigel’s education research asks how and why a background in genetics affects student performance in evolutionary biology. When not researching, Weigel enjoys playing soccer, surfing Netflix, and promoting STEM in the community.
Emily Weigel

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