Captivating Chirality5Captivating Chirality (AP Biology, IB Biology, Chemistry, AP Chemistry, IB Chemistry) 

Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.6); AP & IB Topics: AP Chemistry (Topic 1, Structure of Matter; IB Chemistry (Topic 20,6, Stereoisomerism); AP Biology (Topic 1, Molecules & Cells); IB Biology (Topic 3, The Chemistry of Life)

Chiral molecules are pairs of molecules with identical chemical composition but mirror-image molecular structures. They are vital in genetics, metabolism, sensory functions, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, biominerals, and the search for life on other planets – in fact, chirality is life! Engaging classroom activities foster students’ visual-spatial thinking, as they investigate chiral molecular structures, model real-world applications of chiral molecules, and explore fascinating techniques for detecting chiral substances.


Ecology on the Half ShellEcology on the Half Shell (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology, Earth Science)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.1, BIO.8); Electives: AP Biology (Essential knowledge 4.A.5, 4.A.6, 4.B.3,), IB Biology (Sciences Practices 1, 2), AP Environmental Science (Topics III.A, IV.F)

Explore the “Tragedy of the Commons” in a whole new way! An introduction to the Chesapeake Bay and its oyster fishery will transition into an activity in which students will contrast oyster harvesting techniques in their own oyster reef models. Students will be asked to evaluate their harvesting methods and develop strategies for optimizing oyster harvests in a sustainable fashion.

Lesson Requirement: Calculators


Epigenetics2Epigenetics: Beyond the Punnett Square (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.5); Electives: AP Biology (Essential knowledge 2.B.2, 3.A.1, 3.A.4, 3.B.1, 3.B.2, 3.D.4, 4.A.3, 4.C.2), IB Biology (Science Practice 1)

How do the letters in a Punnett square relate to the inheritance of a physical trait? How are alleles translated into proteins? What does it mean for an allele to be “recessive” or “dominant”? Can environmental experiences be “passed down” to offspring? This lesson addresses these and other questions. The fundamental version of this lesson teaches how an allele is manifested as a genetic trait via transcription and translation. In the advanced version, topics move into the realm of histones, cell receptors, and epigenetics. It is quite possible that what you are may be influenced by your grandparents’ experiences.


Facts Fictions and FinchesFacts, Fictions, and Finches: Understanding Evolution (Biology)

Standards of Learning: Biology (Bio.6, Bio.7)

Did humans descend from monkeys? Is the earth old enough for evolution to have occurred? What evidence for evolution do we find in fossils or Galapagos finches? Find out the answer to these and other questions as we explore the science behind the most troubling theory in biology. Discussion and hands-on activities will address evolutionary myths, the age of the earth, the fossil record, and finch speciation.


Forays with Forams2Forays with Forams (Biology, AP Biology, Earth Science, Ecology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Oceanography)

Standards of Learning: Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.8, ES.9, ES.10); Biology (BIO.1, BIO.7, BIO.8) Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics II.A, II.D, VII.B); Elective: AP Biology (Enduring Understanding 2.C, 2.D, 4.A, 4.B)

Foraminifera, nicknamed “forams,” are single-celled organisms that have inhabited earth’s marine and brackish waters for at least 550 million years, with thousands of species in both the fossil record and modern waters. Although forams are small, their importance to science is enormous! Because of their diversity, abundance, and sensitivity to environmental conditions, forams are used in petroleum exploration, stratigraphy, archaeology, coastal and estuarine ecology, and paleoceanography. They are especially important indicators of changing conditions in oceans and estuaries, and of local and global climate change. Using hands-on activities and 21st-century technology, students will explore how forams help reconstruct ancient ocean conditions and track human impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.


Light Harvesting by Plant PigmentsLight Harvesting by Plant Pigments (Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.3, BIO.5, BIO.8); Electives: AP Biology, IB Biology

Students will explore how plants have adapted to collect and utilize light energy. They will use a Vernier Spectrovis spectrometer to produce an absorbance spectrum of the pigments in plant leaves. Content includes an overview of leaf structure and the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis.

Special Needs: Safety goggles for students


Nanoscale Processes2Nanoscale Processes in Hemoglobin Function (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.1, BIO.2, BIO.5); Electives: AP Biology, IB Biology

The properties of hemoglobin emerge from its quaternary structure; slight modifications in that structure can compromise its function, resulting in diseases such as sickle cell anemia. In this lesson designed for students in Honors, AP, and IB Biology, students will use the free software program Cn3D to examine the molecular interactions that determine the level of protein structure. By manipulating 3D computer models of normal vs. sickle cell hemoglobin, students can see how a point mutation changes a hydrophilic R-group into a hydrophobic one, resulting in the oxygen-bonding deficiencies characteristic of sickle cell anemia. Includes an overview of hemoglobin’s cooperative binding that gives rise to the oxygen dissociation curve.

Lesson Requirement: Computers (2 students per computer); advance installation of the free software Cn3D by the classroom teacher and/or school technology staff.


Subcellular Self Assembly4Subcellular Self-Assembly (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.4, BIO.5); Electives: AP Biology, IB Biology

The formation of microtubules and viral capsids occur via self-assembly within a cell. Both processes demonstrate the need for weak bonds, specific shapes of components, and energy via Brownian motion. In this lesson, students will explore how complex biological processes and structures emerge from nano-scale processes. The self-assembly of microtubules will be explored and following an overview of the mechanism of viral infection, students will use hands-on activities and brainstorming sessions to learn how viruses assemble capsids using biomolecular templates. The role of Brownian motion and hydrogen bonding in self-assembly processes will be addressed.