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The science of locust swarms

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “A single molecule may entice normally solitary locusts to form massive swarms,” which describes a compound used in locust congregation that might also be used to control the pests. A version of the story, “Chemical coaxes locusts to swarm,” can be found in the September 12, 2020 issue of Science News.

Mathematical models of a dog’s age

Students will define, apply and analyze a new mathematical model for determining dog age in human years before comparing it to an old version of the model. Then, students will give examples of mathematical models in other fields and think about models’ benefits and limitations.

Old dog, new math

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Calculating a dog’s age in human years is harder than you think,” which explores how scientists used molecular biology to more accurately compare canine aging with human aging. A version of the story, “Calculating a dog’s age requires a bit more math,” can be found in the August 15, 2020 issue of Science News.

Taking notes and creating visual summaries

This activity asks students to practice two literacy skills: note-taking and summarizing. Note-taking helps students identify and remember important information, enhancing comprehension as they read. Creating a visual summary encourages students to consolidate and communicate key information.

Taking a bacterial census

Students will answer questions about the online Science News article “Here’s where bacteria live on your tongue cells,” which maps how bacteria build communities on human cells. A version of the story, “Where bacteria live on our tongues,” can be found in the April 25, 2020 issue of Science News.

Ecological relationship status

Students will use their knowledge of interspecific interactions to explore bacterial communities on human tongue cells. Then, students will apply those concepts to create metaphors for relationships in their own community.

The truth about bats and viruses

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “Why bat viruses are so dangerous,” which explores how the animals’ immune defenses might lead to killer human pathogens.

The difficult path to diagnosis

Doctors often have to diagnose an injury or disease based on incomplete information. In this discussion, students will explore how symptoms and other biological information — including protein biomarkers in particular — can help doctors identify a problem and recommend a treatment.

Searching for concussion clues

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “Concussion leaves clues in the blood,” which examines the search for a better way to diagnose concussions.

Cats and Punnett squares

Scientists would like to breed cats that don’t trigger allergies in people. By constructing and analyzing a Punnett square for two low-allergen cats, students will review key concepts including patterns and probabilities of inheritance, genotype, phenotype, genes, alleles, chromosomes and mutations.

The quest to fend off cat allergies

Students will answer questions about the Science News article “How to lick cat allergies,” which explores some potential solutions to prevent and calm allergic reactions.

Taking charge of allergies

Students will identify and categorize various approaches to fending off cat allergies. After discussing the approaches, students will apply similar problem-solving strategies to a new allergen.