Thinking About Biology An Introductory Lab Manual

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2018-01-05
  • Publisher: Pearson

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For one-semester, non-majors introductory biology laboratory courses


Thinking About Biology: An Introductory Lab Manual offers an extensively class-tested approach to the introductory biology laboratory course. The manual enables students to see how scientists work to solve problems through scientific investigation by  asking questions and answering them through observations and conducting experiments. This lab manual helps students gain practical experience to better understand lecture concepts, acquire the basic knowledge needed to make informed decisions about biological questions in everyday life, develop the problem-solving skills that will lead to success in school and a competitive job market, and learn to work effectively and productively as a member of a team.


The 6th Edition features new and revised activities based on feedback from students and faculty.

Author Biography

Mimi Bres, Ph.D. Professor and Arnold Weisshaar, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland.

Mimi Bres, Ph.D, tenured Professor, Prince George's Community College, Largo, Maryland

Dr. Bres has over 20 years experience with the development of curriculum materials designed to stimulate interest in science and to improve critical thinking skills.  Of particular note is her recent work developing an interactive web and video-based curriculum, including a virtual field component, to teach environmental concepts without the need for student travel.

Dr. Bres has also worked as a consultant to corporations and government agencies.  She served as team leader and developer for the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Education Library, a series of video curriculum modules for college and high school classes which highlight hazardous chemical response and remediation projects carried out under the SuperFund Program.  Dr. Bres has also served as a consultant to the Prince George's County School District in an initiative to improve the delivery of high school science courses.

As a result of her expertise, Dr. Bres has been an invited speaker at a number of national meetings and seminars.  Her work on the use of cooperative learning techniques has improved both student performance and interest in science.  Dr. Bres' excellence in science education has been recognized by her selection for the National Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, the Teaching Recognition Award by the University of Maryland University College, and Outstanding Faculty Mentor of the Year by the science division students of Prince George's Community College.

Recent books include:  Thinking About Biology, 4th edition (a laboratory manual for general biology),  Hands-On Biology: Laboratories for Distance Learning (a laboratory manual for online general biology courses), Human Biology: Condensed, 7th edition (a simplified lecture study guide that incorporates problem solving activities into the curriculum), and Cooperative Learning: Making Connections in General Biology (a collection of cooperative activities).

Arnold Weisshaar, Professor Emeritus, Prince George's Community College, Largo, Maryland

Professor Weisshaar has had a distinguished 36 year career in higher education.  During his career, he has been the spearhead of several initiatives to improve science education and expand the College's program offerings.  In the classroom, Professor Weisshaar has worked extensively with underprepared students of diverse social and ethnic backgrounds.  


In an attempt to improve instructional delivery, he has co-authored a variety of support materials for students. Recent publications include laboratory manuals for general biology, including: Thinking About Biology, 4th edition and Hands-On Biology: Laboratories for Distance Learning and a simplified lecture study guide that incorporates problem solving activities into the curriculum (Human Biology: Condensed, 7th edition).

In the course of developing the above-mentioned materials, Professor Weisshaar became interested in cooperative learning strategies as a tool for engaging students.  In the succeeding years, he has become adept at applying cooperative learning techniques to various learning situations and in that regard, has co-authored a collection of cooperative activities (Cooperative Learning: Making Connections in General Biology).   

In addition to his classroom activities, Professor Weisshaar has been an active participant in organizing programs to facilitate professional development for colleagues within his institution and throughout the state of Maryland.

Table of Contents

Exercise 1       Introduction to the Scientific Method

Activity 1         Forming Hypotheses to Solve Problems

Activity 2         Testing Hypotheses

Activity 3         Interpreting Data

Activity 4         Performing an Experiment and Collecting Data

Activity 5         Graphing Your Results

Activity 6         Interpreting Data Using Simple Statistics

Exercise 2       Windows to a Microscopic World

Activity 1         Learning to Use the Dissecting Microscope

Activity 2         Making Observations with the Dissecting Microscope

Activity 3         Getting Familiar with the Compound Microscope

Activity 4         Parts of the Compound Microscope

Activity 5         Learning to Use the Compound Microscope

Activity 6         Preparing Temporary Slides - Wet Mounts

Activity 7         Using the Microscope to Answer a Question: What Do Aquarium Snails Eat?

Exercise 3       Functions and Properties of Cells

Activity 1         Cellular Organelles

Activity 2         Observing Living Cells

Activity 3         Amyloplasts in Potato Tubers

Activity 4         Stem Cells

Exercise 4       Movement of Molecules Across Cell Membranes

Activity 1         Water Molecules in Motion

Activity 2         Diffusion and Osmosis

Activity 3         Controls for the Diffusion and Osmosis Experiment

Activity 4         Completing the Diffusion and Osmosis Experiment

Activity 5         Osmosis in Elodea Cells

Exercise 5       Investigating Cellular Respiration

Activity 1         Do Microorganisms Perform Cellular Respiration?

Activity 2         Comparison of Classroom Air with Exhaled Air

Activity 3         Effect of Exercise on Carbon Dioxide Production

Activity 4         Alternatives to Aerobic Respiration

Activity 5         Anaerobic Respiration

Exercise 6       Photosynthesis

Activity 1         Absorption of Carbon Dioxide During Photosynthesis

Activity 2         Testing Leaves for Starch

Activity 3         Cells of the Leaf Epidermis

Exercise 7       Organic Molecules and Nutrition

Activity 1         Positive and Negative Indicator Tests

Activity 2         Testing Food Samples

Activity 3         An Embryo in a Peanut Seed

Activity 4         Dietary Intake and Good Health

Exercise 8       Factors that Affect Enzyme Activity

Activity 1         Demonstration of Enzyme Activity

Activity 2         Enzyme Activity in Food Vacuoles

Activity 3         Effect of Environmental Conditions on Protein Structure

Exercise 9       Introduction to Molecular Genetics

Activity 1         Removing DNA From Cells

Activity 2         The Basics of DNA Structure

Activity 3         Building a Model of DNA

Activity 4         Steps of Protein Synthesis

Activity 5         Building a Real Protein

Exercise 10     Mitosis and Asexual Reproduction

Activity 1         How Mitosis Works

Activity 2         Recognizing the Stages of Mitosis

Activity 3         Mitosis - The Real Thing!

Activity 4         Estimating the Duration of the Cell Cycle

Activity 5         Regeneration

Activity 6         Asexual Reproduction: Growing a Plant From a Cutting

Exercise 11     Connecting Meiosis and Genetics

Activity 1         Getting Started: Build a Pair of Chromosomes

Activity 2         Homologous Chromosomes Separate in Meiosis to Form Gametes

Activity 3         Fertilization: Nature's Equivalent to Rolling the Dice

Activity 4         What's Your Baby's Genotype?

Activity 5         Genotype Determines Phenotype

Activity 6         Passing On Traits

Activity 7         Practicing Genetics Problems

Exercise 12     Human Genetics

Activity 1         PTC Tasting

Activity 2         X-Linked Traits

Activity 3         Codominance and Sickle Cell Disease

Activity 4         A Family History of Sickle Cell Disease

Activity 5         Codominance and Multiple Alleles

Exercise 13     Evolution

Activity 1         Determining the Age of Rock Layers and Fossils

Activity 2         Reconstructing Fossil Evidence

Activity 3         Natural Selection

Exercise 14     Functions of Tissues and Organs

Activity 1         Skin: The Outer Protective Layer

Activity 2         The Epidermis

Activity 3         The Dermis

Activity 4         Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Activity 5         Below the Skin (the Hypodermis)

Activity 6         Touch Sensitivity

Exercise 15     The Cardiovascular System

Activity 1         Circulation of Blood Around the Body

Activity 2         A Closer Look at the Heart

Activity 3         Understanding Blood Pressure and Pulse Rate

Activity 4         Cardiovascular Disease

Exercise 16     Introduction to Anatomy: Dissecting the Fetal Pig

Activity 1         Getting Started

Activity 2         Following Anatomical Directions

Activity 3         External Anatomy of the Fetal Pig

Activity 4         Dissection of the Mouth

Activity 5         Dissection of the Neck

Activity 6         Dissection of the Thoracic Cavity

Activity 7         Measuring Lung Capacity

Exercise 17     Organs of the Abdominal Cavity

Activity 1         Dissection of the Abdominal Cavity

Activity 2         The Urinary System

Activity 3         Internal Structure of the Stomach

Activity 4         Examining the Small Intestine

Activity 5         The Importance of Surface Area

Activity 6         Earthworm Locomotion

Exercise 18     Introduction to Forensic Biology

Activity 1         Getting Started

Activity 2         Classifying Fingerprint Patterns

Activity 3         Analyzing Fingerprint Evidence

Activity 4         Blood Typing

Exercise 19     Biotechnology: DNA Analysis

Activity 1         Sources of DNA Evidence

Activity 2         Solving a Crime Using RFLP Fingerprints

Activity 3         The Use of PCR For STR Analysis

Activity 4         Solving a Criminal Case Using STR Evidence

Activity 5         Deciding a Paternity Suit Involving STR Analysis

Activity 6         DNA Barcodes

Exercise 20     Using Biotechnology to Assess Ecosystem Damage

Activity 1         Exploring Bioluminescence

Activity 2         Getting Started

Activity 3         Making Accurate Serial Dilutions

Activity 4         Preparing Bacterial Samples

Activity 5         Testing the Toxicity of Your Chemical

Exercise 21     Ecosystems

Activity 1         Food Chains

Activity 2         Loss of Energy in Food Chains

Activity 3         Food Chains Interact to Form Food Webs

Activity 4         Bioaccumulation

Exercise 22     Biodiversity and Conservation

Activity 1         Value of Biodiversity

Activity 2         Commercial Fishing as an Example of Tragedy of the Commons

Activity 3         Ecosystem Jenga®

Exercise 23     Population Ecology

Activity 1         Introduction to Sampling - An Ecological Tool

Activity 2         Sampling Quadrats to Estimate Population

Activity 3         The Mark and Recapture Technique for Estimating Population Size

Appendix 1      Game Cards for Exercise 22

Appendix 2      Self Test Answers

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