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Genetics represents a beautiful illustration of the unity of mathematics and biology. In this exercise, poker chips are used to represent genes. Students draw tree diagrams to illustrate the chance for inheritance of multiple traits. This activity is borrowed with permission from Biology in a Box
Every forest includes a host of microorganisms, insects, and pathogens (disease-causing organisms) that cause damage to the trees within it. A certain level of damage is unavoidable, and can even be healthy for a forest ecosystem. Therefore, modern management techniques must include the consideration of protection against forest pests. In this activity, you are a forester figuring out strategies to deal with a forest pest, quantifying the damage to your plantation, and considering the costs and benefits of different strategies. This activity is adapted with permission from Biology in a Box.
Think of some phenomenon that you would like to understand but “seeing” how it works is hidden from you. Scientists have asked many questions like these over the years… How does the body heal a broken bone? Why does water expand when it freezes? How does a tree convert sunlight to energy for its growth? These processes were once a black box -- a metaphor that compares the phenomenon to something happening inside a container that no one can see because the walls are dark. But as scientists dreamed up possible explanations for how these things might work, then tested, revised, and retested their ideas, slowly we all came to “see” inside. How do you figure out what’s going on inside your black box? In this hands-on activity, we will use this metaphor to understand how scientific inquiry works, and also the mathematical basis for why this approach is powerful. This activity is borrowed with permission from Biology in a Box.
Writing an abstract is a very specialized skill for communicating the results of a scientific study. The abstract must follow writing conventions, distill the most important information from the research into 150-250 words, and be aware that this single paragraph will be the most widely seen and re-read portion of the entire paper. This slide presentation introduces what an abstract is, why it is important to write it well, general guidelines, and some abstract writing strategies. Although abstract writing is usually begun in college courses, these tips will be useful to anyone interested in learning how to write an abstract.
In this video about Biology in Box, discover how this hands-on, inquiry-based program helps kids from kindergarten to 12th grade learn about the wonders of the natural world, while also learning the scientific methods and math skills needed to understand that world.
Whether it’s SARS or Bird Flu, the common cold or meningitis, outbreaks of disease are the subject of big headlines and also big science to fight them. Many scientists and mathematicians are working together to study how diseases spread and to create models that predict the progress of epidemics and how to best control them. In this game, participants will learn a simple disease model by being an active participant in a mock “outbreak” of handshake disease.
Healthy forests are important to us for many reasons. Forest scientists must collect lots of data to keep track of what is happening in our forests. In this module, students learn about the area and distribution of forests in the United States and why it is important to measure and monitor forests. They will how to determine a tree's diameter and to measure stand density.
In this video, Jay Clark performs his song, “The Last Hemlock,” which he composed during his time as a Songwriter-in-Residence at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Written by Clark, who has a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology, the song tells the story of the blight of the Eastern Hemlocks in Southern Appalachia.
Animals frequently face the problems of feast and famine. Sometimes food is so abundant that an animal could not possibly eat more than a small fraction of what is available (the “feast”), and then there are extended periods when food is scarce (the “famine”). Many animals solve this problem by storing food for future use, a behavior called caching (pronounced “cashing”). Birds and squirrels are examples of animals that cache food. In this activity, students will learn the strategies animal use to maximize food return in an environment where the resource is temporarily variable and where they are competing with others for the same resource.
Biodiversity is a measure of the different kinds of organisms in a region or other defined area. It includes the number of species and their range of adaptations, traits that can be behavioral, physical or physiological. These traits enhance an organism’s fitness, its ability to pass on its genes to another generation through reproduction. In this activity, students will learn about biodiversity and how to use the Simpson’s Diversity Index to explain probability and biodiversity in an area.
In this video, Kerrie Anne Loyd, a graduate student at the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, talks about the mathematical model she is developing to analyze and determine the most efficient way to manage feral cat populations.
Rene Salinas creates computer models that simulate changes in the black bear population in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. In this video, he talks about how his model can help wildlife managers determine the best strategy for minimizing bear-human conflict while maintaining a sustainable bear population.
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