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Biological clickbait

Sunday 7 February 2021

Every once in a while my attention is caught by a video at the side of a page and just sometimes it's such an interesting idea I want to share it with my IB students. Time is precious in IB Biology so there has to be a good reason. Nurturing lifelong learning, curiosity or inquiry could all count as educational reasons on their own, but if the stimulus (clickbait) can encourage students to form connections between topics, or find biological concepts to link parts of the course then my awesome biological video will not be a distraction. It will become an opportunity to deepen student understanding.

This week it was a short, 80 second, video from HHMI  Biointeractive that got me excited. I'm still wondering about it today!

This short explainer would be appropriate for cell differentiation in Topic 1. It would get students to apply their understanding of mitosis or differentiation in the final stages of spermatogenesis in Topic 11.  It could be used to introduce or recap the structure of muscles and movement in Topic 11, or lead into questions about nerves and synapses in Topic 6.  Your students will gasp when the leg it cut but, as it's an animation, this video activity is in line with the IB Guidance on animal experimentation!

If i'm feeling brave I might put the video on loop as the students are arriving and once they are all settled ask questions?
It's sometimes better to have a bit more structure.

The thinking routine from Project Zero called See, Think, Wonder is great for exploring links and getting student asking questions.

See, Think, Wonder

  1. Watch the video, brainstorm the things which students have seen.
  2. Ask students to think of connections with Biology which they know.
  3. What else is there? Does anyone have any questions?
 A more guided approach would be to ask some specific questions about the video.

Video Questions

  1. How many types of stem cells did you see streaming out of the wound?
  2. Where have we learned about: cell division / stem cells / mitosis / elbow structure / muscles  / cell differentiation?
  3. What happens to stem cells in the movie?
  4. What hasn't been explained by this short video?

Newts and salamanders can regrow limbs that were severed off. This classroom-ready science animation shows how stem cells enable regeneration. This video is part of the 2006 Holiday Lectures on stem cells. Students can watch the rest of the lectures, or download the animation, on the BioInteractive website:


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