High School | Daily Do
Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.
Students investigate an example of new traits arising in populations by watching a video that shows the growth of bacteria on increasingly high concentrations of antibiotics as the bacterial genome accumulates mutations that confer antibiotic resistance. Students wonder how these mutations can develop so quickly. Students create a mathematical representation of bacterial reproduction to model the speed at which these populations grow to figure out that while mutation rates make it seem like mutations are very rare, they are instead quite common due to the rate at which bacterial populations reproduce. They extend this to the rock pocket mouse model and see that in a case where organisms do not reproduce as quickly, the sheer size of an organism’s genome and the number of offspring produced in a generation still guarantees mutations will accumulate over time. Finally, students return to their consensus models and use them to make predictions about what would happen in the case of specific mutations in different environments. Then they test their predictions using a computer simulation and consider the affordances of one type of model over another.
This is Lesson 5 of the High Altitude Living Unit.
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