Biology A Level, IGCSE and GCSE Educational Resources
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  • AS coursework idea: golden rice

    Posted on February 17th, 2010 admin 1 comment

    The issues surrounding the development of the genetically modified rice, golden rice, maybe a useful topic for the AS coursework essay. Rather than discussion of GM foods in general a look at this particular food, and the campaign and controls against it, provides a rich source of discussion. Golden rice has been modified to produce high amounts of vitamin A, a deficiency of which causes many deaths a year in the developing world:

    “According to the World Health Organization, dietary vitamin A deficiency (VAD) causes some 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind each year. Blindness and corneal afflictions are but indicators of more severe underlying health problems: more than half the children who lose their sight die within a year of becoming blind. VAD compromises the immune systems of approximately 40 percent of children under the age of five in the developing world, greatly increasing the risk of severe illnesses from common childhood infections.”

    Golden Rice Project

    However, the severe restrictions have been placed on the use of golden rice and, as of, writing it has not been allowed out of the lab as yet. Is the need for supplements via rice needed? Are there alternatives? Are the fears of introducing the rice into the general agricultural system justified? Do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?

    To find out more follow the links below and watch the videos.

    The Golden Rice Project

    BBC news: Golden Rice

    Articles from the Science journal (will need to pay for access)

    Golden Rice: A dangerous experiment (from BanGMfood.org website)

    Video 1: Excerpt from Channel 4 Animal Farm series (looking at genetic modification and tissue engineering, recommeded viewing). It is 5 minutes long and shows the techniques involved.

    Video 2: Slideshow and commentary on golden rice. Gives a greater voice to those who are against the use of golden rice.

  • Eva Vertes: ideas on cancer

    Posted on February 9th, 2010 admin 1 comment

    One of my AS students told me about this TED video, originally shown in 2005. Eva is only 19 years old when she presents at TED on her ideas on the causes and, belive it or not, possible uses for cancer. If you want to inspire your students to be free-thinkers, to look outside their comfort zone of textbooks and use their AS essays etc. as tools to explore the scientific issues of today then show them this video:

    The link to the TED website is below:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eva_vertes_looks_to_the_future_of_medicine.html

    More about Eva, and a shorter video of her ideas are shown on the secret lives of scientists website:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/secretlife/scientists/eva-vertes/

  • IGCSE Biology Classification of animal kingdom video

    Posted on May 12th, 2009 admin 34 comments

    This video is directed at IGCSE Cambridge Biology and revises the groups students need to study for the animal kingdom. It is only 5 minutes long and revises the key external features of each group.

    The link to the screencast version is here (might be useful for whiteboards): 2009-05-13_0116
    The file is quite large so be patient as it may take a short while to load. Also apologies for background noise, my laptop has a very noisy fan (as well as being held together with sellotape because I dropped the laptop when rushing to my next lesson).

  • David Attenborough on the mating habits of slugs

    Posted on April 14th, 2009 admin No comments

    Short, compelling and slightly gross video on the mating ritual of slugs by the great David Attenborough.I just had to add this in, would be great intro or close on sexual reproduction or clasification at any level.

    Slug mating