Biology students bring the science into research writing

Students+in+pre-AP+Biology+classes+such+as+those+of+teacher+Kristen+Newton+are+learning+how+to+write+a+science+based+research+paper+over+a+health+problem+in+today%27s+society.+

Melody Tavallaee

Students in pre-AP Biology classes such as those of teacher Kristen Newton are learning how to write a science based research paper over a health problem in today's society.

Pre-AP Biology teachers have taken advantage of online learning by teaching students about health issues and how to research through a five week project on body systems and health problems in the area. 

We really felt it was important for you all to get the experience of doing research and writing for a science class because it’s quite different from how you would research and write for an English or History class,”

— pre-AP Biology teacher Kristen Newton

“Mr. Ham, Ms. Cowger, and I had already been working together to figure out how we could make this work for our Pre-AP Biology classes before schools got closed down,” Pre-AP Biology teacher Kristen Newton said.We ended up sticking with the same final product that the on-level students created last year: a proposal for how to tackle a health problem present in our community. One of the biggest changes we made to this project from last year in on-level is the research component. We really felt it was important for you all to get the experience of doing research and writing for a science class because it’s quite different from how you would research and write for an English or History class.”

This multi-week project has gotten good feedback from students who are interested in the topic.

“I personally think that this project could be really fun and helpful. It teaches us how to cite and research for a science class that I can use in a future class or in other places,” freshman Rees Wilson said. “This project is also different compared to all the worksheets and notes we are doing in other classes; this feels more hands-on.”

The research project is helping the students in different aspects, not just biology.

“Students are learning about the human body systems and research processes at the same time. The science content focuses on the functions of the human body systems as well as the organs that are involved in each system,” Newton said. “At the same time, students are learning some practical skills in the form of using APA format to cite things and using science/health databases to do research.”

Some students think this project is more time consuming and effort than other classes. 

I personally think that this project could be really fun and helpful. It teaches us how to cite and research for a science class that I can use in a future class or in other places,”

— freshman Rees Wilson

“This project in biology takes a long time to do especially with the citations,” freshman Dev Sheth said. “Although it could be helpful, I wish that they broke it down more into smaller steps because we had a lot of lessons on citations with the first part of the project.”

Newton thinks this project has been limited by e-learning and social distancing in different ways.

“There are a few downsides with doing this online,” Newton said. “Like with all the assignments right now, students have to wait to get feedback. I cannot be walking around the classroom, answering questions, and catching quick mistakes at the moment. This was going to be a group project, so we have lost that component completely. The final goal of this was to allow each group to be able to go and carry out their proposal the last week of school, but that is difficult to do now with limitations on where we can go. The biggest downside is that this is my favorite unit! I would have hyped this up so much in class, and now it seems a lot more boring (at least in my opinion).”