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Ten AP Biology Ideas and Activities for High School


Students, parents, administrators, and the teachers themselves are committed to making sure that students master the facts that enable them to pass their advanced placement exams. On the one hand, the Curriculum Framework for AP Biology lets everyone know what AP Bio teachers need to teach. Teachers spend seemingly endless hours creating or finding documents that give their students the Essential Knowledge standards, alongside the questions that test student mastery of each concept.

On the other hand, advanced placement testing isn’t just about recalling facts and vocabulary for multiple choice questions. Free response questions make up 50 percent of the exam. For students to be able to squeeze every possible point out of the free response questions on their AP exam, they need to be able to read questions. They need to know what they are defining, describing, justifying, or explaining. Free response questions don’t leave any wiggle room. Students who don’t answer exactly what they are asked get zero points.

At Modern Biology Inc., we believe that the ability to answer questions isn’t primarily a word game. We believe that AP Bio students learn the ability to define and respond to the important questions of biology through hands-on experiences as well as classroom experiences. That’s why, since 1985, we have created dozens of lab packages that give your students the opportunity to run actual experiments — not just demonstrations — that reinforce the core concepts students need both to pass advanced placement exams and to succeed in their further study of college biology.

And while we are very serious about providing all needed materials for your students to conduct their experiments without your having to spend endless hours in the supply room, and we insist that every reagent and every chemical we sell is non-toxic and safe, and we provide instructor guides and study materials with each package, we recognize that AP biology students need fun activities, too.

How could you use Modern Biology’s laboratory packages to add new dimensions of understanding of core concepts of biology that students will encounter in all their future work in the field?

We can all agree that AP Biology students need to master the central dogma. As stated by the National Human Genome Research Institute, the classic view of the central dogma is that genetic information is hard coded into DNA and transcribed into mRNA for the synthesis of specific proteins. Students then learn exceptions to the rule.

How can students begin to visualize the central dogma to gain “muscle memory” of core concepts?

Modern Biology Inc starts with the Properties of DNA. Students spool fibers of purified DNA on a glass rod. They get a tangible demonstration that DNA isn’t just long strands of C and G with occasional interspersing A and T. They handle real DNA.

Then with Cell Fractionation and Isolation, students isolate DNA from actual samples. They do actual Electrophoretic Analysis of Molecules to observe differences in the migration of four purified proteins across a charged gel. They estimate relative Lengths of DNA with their new electrophoresis skills, and they make determinations of Molecular Weight. They use Western Blot Technique to compare proteins to standards from bovine serum and by the end of the year they are Cloning a DNA Segment and using a plasmid to create a strain of E. coli That Glows in the Dark.

Modern Biology Inc. supplies dozens of other experiments that develop critical thinking skills for understanding essential biological concepts that AP Bio students who go forward with their studies will encounter in courses in biochemistry, physiology, evolution, and genetics. Mastering the facts and understanding questions are key to success on the advanced placement exam. But the AP biology teacher’s task doesn’t end there.

Great AP biology teachers don’t just teach to the test. They also instill the awareness of the context of biology that their students will need to remain curious and motivated — so they don’t burn out — in the study of biology. This is another aspect of teaching AP biology where Modern Biology Inc. can help.

We provide a learning experience in which students rethink the truism that plants are just green carb manufacturing machines. Students use respirometers to measure O2 consumption of germinating seeds in their unit on the Effects of Temperature on Cell Respiration. 

We provide a learning experience in which your students can study their own DNA, Genetics and Sickle Cell Anemia In this one unit, you can review the relationships of genotype and phenotype, the process of protein polymerization, and the concepts of cooperative binding and balanced polymorphisms as they relate to human evolution  Your students can go beyond their understanding of these concepts they will encounter in future work and develop an intuitive appreciation of allele distribution and frequency, and see the practical implications of advances in biology for the real world. This experiment can even lead your students to start to think of biology as a tool for social justice.

We’ve given you more than 10 AP Biology ideas and activities for high school. We have dozens more. We even have entire courses you can use for teaching AP Biology. 

Over 500,000 students every year learn biology with the help of Modern Biology Inc. products. Over 8200 teachers use Modern Biology Inc.’s products to give them the time and budget to focus on what is most important for their students. Find out why thousands of teachers trust Modern Biology Inc.