Exploring the subject biology
When we talk about life, we want to know about its origin, existence of diversity in life-forms, right from microscopic bacteria to the giant blue whale. We try to identify the interactions that exist between various life forms to continue the survival of one’s species on the earth. Human has quest to invent and discover microscopic machinery operated in the human cell to the changes operated at environmental level such as global climate change.
Biology answers all such questions is considered as natural science concerned with the study of life and living organism. Today it is expanding into various branches at tremendous rate due to new inventions and discoveries that encompass a wide range of studies. It not only satisfies human queries but show new rays of hope for future. Let’s understand how?
BRANCHING OF BIOLOGY INTO MANY DISCIPLINES
BOTANY deals with plants, ZOOLOGY deals with animal study, MICROBIOLOGY deals with nature and ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE with nature. The basic structural and functional unit in plants, animals and microbes is CELL. The study about components and processes of cell is called CYTOLOGY. The study of cell done at molecular level constitutes MOLECULAR BIOLOGY. The structure of primitive cell was unicellular which got transformed to multi-cellular over a period of time. The study of changes from unicellular to multi-cellular comprises EVOLUTION. The primitive cells are called prokaryotes and evolved cells are called eukaryotes. For a deep understanding of cell, the other branches of science are integrated with biology.
BIOLOGY + PHYSICES = BIOPHYSICS For example – use of spectrophotometer in the qualitative analysis of protein
BIOLOGY + CHEMISTRY = BIOCHEMISTRY Such as how the food is broken-down by series of chemical reactions in the cell to release energy
BIOLOGY +ENGINEERING = BIOENGINEERING How the recombinant is produced by combining two different DNAs
BIOLOGY + COMPUTER = BIOINFORMATICS How to make use of computer in the analysis of DNA fingerprinting.
The study of diversity of life forms is done under TAXONOMY. The interaction of life with the components of environment is called Ecology. Each species on earth transmits its DNA to next generation, the study of which is called GENETICS.
Humans, being superior beings, exploited all forms of life for survival and making life better. This depends upon consuming good food and maintaining good health. Growing of good quality food comes under AGRICULTURE. Analysis of physical body comes under PHYSIOLOGY and maintaining healthy body under IMMUNOLOGY. Today we have integrated technology to biology to secure human life and for obtaining better output. BIOTECHNOLOGY and NANOTECHNOLOGY are two such promising branches of biology. Insulin which is produced inside the living body is now synthesized outside the body with the help of biotechnology and used for therapeutic purposes.
HOW TO DEAL WITH SUBJECT BIOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM
It is a subject that builds upon itself and cannot be absorbed in a short duration of time. So it is essential to understand the basic concepts before going for more complex ones.
Testing of previous knowledge before the introduction of topic is one of the important aspects of teaching. After the introduction of topic invite curiosity from the students. Let there be discussion over it and then ask the students to look for answers while dealing with the subject matter.
Note taking is very important in biology. Certain students may find it time consuming but it helps students to review what they have covered during the class and a quick glance over the notes helps to prepare for the test as the subject deals with detail text of each topic which otherwise is difficult to go through the whole text at a time. Reviewing notes helps to synthesize what is being learnt. Rewriting notes helps to focus on writing, listening, and visualization at a single stretch. This stimulates brain centres where active learning occurs. Outlines are great way to organize notes from general to specific. Try to avoid use of readymade notes.
Diagrams are one of the best teaching aids in biology. Drawing and labeling of the diagram with functions helps to clarify many doubts and imparts good comprehension of the topic. Use of charts for teaching is one of the traditional practices that still work well in modern era of computers.
Accurate observation and experimentation initiates research ability amongst students. Experimentation is the physical experience of learning where they apply and extend their knowledge and understanding of the subject in a novel investigative situation that aids in learning and creating further interest in the subject. Lab work should be pre-planned. Students must know what is expected from them and they must come prepared to enter the lab.
Projects, assignments and presentation help students to reach out of books. They help to gain mastery over a particular topic by doing detailed research and studies. Visits to botanical garden, science parks, zoo and labs provide first hand interaction with nature and add fun to learning.
Online biology learning is useful too – one can look for original specimens which are not available in labs, animations for various life processes operated at cellular level, quizzes and original pictures which help in self-learning and self-assessment.
QUESTION PAPER SETTING
The worksheet given after completion of the topic helps to assess if the students have grasped the root concepts or not. The questions for the test are set on the basis of memorization ability, understanding, analysis, and reasoning abilities. The assessment should be based on the actual knowledge gained.
PREREQUISITE FOR BIOLOGY
Curiosity, an open mind and willingness to think critically about the natural world are the prerequisite for any biologist – the more you enquire the more you find and more you learn.
Rashmi Prabha is Vice Principal in St. Kabir’s School, Hisar, Haryana and currently teaching biology to senior classes. She obtained a masters degree in biotechnology from M.S University, Baroda. She has great passion for environment and engages in projects and activities on environment awareness and conservation involving students, teachers and parents. She is an online teacher and faculty in Lund University for evaluating Global Young Master’s Programme on Sustainable Development. She conducts adolescence classes for students and makes them aware of their responsibilities and social challenges. Various organisations have honoured her for making outstanding contributions. She received the Derozio Award from the Council for ISCE for making quality contribution in the field of education and human enrichment, The Educationist Of the Year Award (twice) by Silver Zone Foundation, The Best Teacher Award by Bharat Vikas Parishad, Mahilla Jyoti Award by Integrated Council for Socio Economic Progress, and Paryavaran Puraskar by Paryavaran Mitra Organisation associated with Ministry of Environment Education. She writes on a wide range of topics and her articles are regularly published in Siksha Saarthi, a magazine of the Haryana Government and Teacher magazine published by ACER.