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Chemistry

Organic Compounds

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Robin Fujioka Robin 1390 Points

In a few weeks, I will be teaching my General Biology students about the 4 groups of organic compounds: carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins. Since this is the General/Basic level class, I'm not planning to do an introduction to chemistry. Any ideas on how to make this unit interesting so that students see how important these compounds are to all living things? Any good labs to do with students? My general level students are more visual and hands-on learners. I wanted to show a video or something visual to make it easier for them to understand. I found a video on discovery education, but it really isn't want I wanted. I tried looking on line for videos, but they are too advanced for my students. Does anyone have any ideas that have worked for them in the past?

Ashley Stark Ashley Stark 3185 Points

Last introduced eighth graders to this topic by showing them a video about competitive eating.

Robin Fujioka Robin 1390 Points

Thanks Ashley: I'll check online under competitive eating and see what I can find.

Katrina Strauss Katrina Strauss 310 Points

I would also like to hear some ideas, since we are running out of time, I got like only 1.5 weeks to teach them the basic characteristics of organic molecules and the macromolecules. But I don't want to just do notes, I have laptops in my class that I can use. But I am looking for some cool ideas for maybe a short project. Thanks.

Robin Fujioka Robin 1390 Points

Katrina: you are so fortunate to have laptops in the classroom. What did you decide on doing with the macromolecules? I just finished this unit, did not have students do a project, but had them do a Catalase Lab using Liver, Potato, and Hydogen Peroxide.

Renee Hashimoto Renee Hashimoto 1595 Points

Cynthia Fong Cynthia Fong 3255 Points

Hi Robin, There have to be food groups you can use. In fact, this week, I was talking with one of my students and he is big into bodybuilding. He was sharing what he eats, vitamins he insists on taking and then, was very concerned that their might be steroids in them because he was getting uncontrollably angry at his mother and did not understand why and he did not like the fact he was getting upset at his mother...he did not understand why and was wondering if some of the supplements might be at fault. I, of course, recommended he see his doctor and discuss with him but we did discuss vitamins and steroids because it was a teachable moment. Mostly, he is thirteen and middle school, uncontrollable amounts of hormones are hitting his system...we deal with this everyday. His mother was looking at everything and knew it was all vitamins. But from older bodybuilders at his gym, he was sharing the information he was getting from them and it was actually a bit scary. He was throwing the above 4 items at me but it was obvious he did not understand the importance or why. Go from the point of view of body building. Many teenagers are very concerned with their looks and if they are athletes, they are looking at these groups. But they don't understand it well and they take a lot of advise from other bodybuilders who may not necessarily have the nutritional background understanding. Find food groups: carbohydrates: pasta, bread... proteins: meat, soybeans?... lipids and nucleic acids: find out what food contains each. I would approach this by: 1. Have the different foods out on a table. 2. Have them, with no prior information, classify which one's have what in them (like a pre-test - looking at prior knowledge). They can double up...have them estimate what is the primary type followed by a secondary...even percentages. Let them talk and discuss it and give reasons why. 3. Look more closely at each one - this is a carbohydrate because...and provide the reasons or science behind it. Find some gruesome things to associate if an organism does not get enough...that will definitely help engage and keep interest. 4. Have them write a reflection on it and how it could apply to them nutritionally. What could they do for their own nutritional needs. Perhaps, even have them list everything they eat for a day or a week and figure out where each belongs and how much they got of each. That can be eye-opening. Extension: How do they navigate all the information out there in what is appropriate to eat and provide them the correct nutrition. There is a lot of advertisement. You could even bring in stuff from a vitamin or health food store that suggests each. My two cents - have fun! Cindy

Katherine Willet Katherine Zimmerman 21310 Points

I designed a project last year where my students had to use organic molecules to have a Top Chef competition. It was great because the students had to understand organic molecules, but then they actually understood how it was applicable to their lives. If you would like I can share the lesson with you.

Katrina Strauss Katrina Strauss 310 Points

I haven't done a project yet, I would like to do something this week before thanksgiving break. I was thinking of doing a modified version of the Top Chef activity. If you don't mind sharing your top chef lesson that would be great. The one I have was a little vague in the directions. Thanks

Katherine Willet Katherine Zimmerman 21310 Points

Here is the information I gave the students. I did not have them make the food, but you could. I am planning on doing it the week of Thanksgiving, it is the perfect amount of time.

Attachments

Top_Chef.doc (0.04 Mb)

Katrina Strauss Katrina Strauss 310 Points

When you tell them what facts to look for, like what exactly are you looking for? Like chemical composition? general characteristics? What specifically? Also, in the chart, they find the food item and then what do they put for proteins, carbs, lipids? The type? Or the specific ingredients that fit in those categories? The food will most likely have more than one category. Just want to make sure. Thanks!

Katherine Willet Katherine Zimmerman 21310 Points

I had them look up what kinds of molecules were in the food, so they would actually have to look at the ingredient list and research specific foods. I also had them try and find how much energy was provided by that type of food.

Katrina Strauss Katrina Strauss 310 Points

Thanks, what I am going to have them do is list the ingredients in the categories and I included a category called "Other" where they can list the salts, preservatives, etc. just so they can see the fillers some foods have. How big of a group did you do, I was thinking 3-4. I'm also doing a "mini-poster" on a 8x14 paper unless I can find bigger paper... if they want to bring in a poster board they can (it's very hard to get my students to bring in supplies like that though). I am going to start it today and give them until the end of the hour Friday to turn it in. The revised lab is attached... Thanks for the idea!

Attachments

Katherine Willet Katherine Zimmerman 21310 Points

Kathryn, That looks great, I am going to use some of your changes when I do the project this year. Thanks for sharing it. I had the students in groups of 3-4 and it worked well. I gave them paper that was 14"x17" (I think, or around that size). I did allow them to either draw pictures of the food or print from the internet. I figure there are plenty of people like me who can't draw to save their lives. Let me know how it goes, and have fun with it. Katie

Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

Hi Robin - I was going to teach this topic in a few days and this is what I was planning on doing. I was going to break up my class into 8 groups (2 groups work on nucleic acids, 2 groups focus on proteins, 2 groups on lipids and 2 groups on carbohydrates). Each group will be responsible for reading about their type of molecule and then work together to create a model of the monomers that connect to create the polymer. I'm thinking of supplying students with strings, beads, paperclips, straws, tape and scissors. I am going to print out some different pictures of the monomers to help the students build their models. Students will then join together with other groups to share their knowledge of their biological molecules with the other groups (jigsaw). Let me know if you try this out and how it works! Cheers! Kathryn

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