Mizzou Biology Research

Maddie Vessar, Reporter

Sophomore biology students have started a new way to learn. Battle biology teachers have been working with Mizzou researchers Laura Zangori and Patricia Friedrichsen on a new way, to teach students about biology by using current events to teach certain stuff such as homeostasis (an equilibrium maintained in the body).

Zangori has been with Mizzou for four years now. She focuses on discovering the ideas students have about biological systems and how to support students in elementary, middle, and secondary schools learning biological systems. Dr. Friedrichsen has been focusing on teachers’ ideas about teaching biology and helping teachers use new tools during teaching.

Biology students first started the year off with a Mars unit which focused on “Should We Colonize Mars”.

“Last summer, the Battle biology teacher team met with us at Mizzou and we worked together to develop this new unit. The Battle biology teacher team also taught a different socio-scientific issue (SSI) unit at the start of the school year that Jordan Rockett worked on with us three years ago,” said Zangori.

The research team heard back from Rockett that the school liked the Mars unit and so they asked if they wanted to co-design the vaping unit.

“Within the unit, we used the practice of modeling to help students understand the body system. Modeling, for this unit, occurred when students drew their ideas about the body system and made connections within their drawings as to how the system responded when it was in and out of homeostasis,” said Zangori.

  The curriculum was purposely for high school students to be more engaged in learning biology. They chose to use socio-scientific issues (SSI). The topics have both social aspects and science connections. The vaping unit was not just a global issue it was local too. Sophomore Sally Johnson* explained that because she had a nicotine addiction, the unit helped her realize what it was doing to her body.

“The vaping unit was more relevant so it was easier to learn about it” Johnson said.

The biology teachers hope to do the vaping unit and mars unit again and continue to modify them.

*Student’s name has been changed to remain anonymous.