May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

The Seven AP Science Practices: Practice Seven

Posted: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Bethany Dixon

The College Board has released seven science practices that will be shared through the disciplines. (Note: these are not to be confused with the NGSS “Science and Engineering Practices” from the Framework for K-12 Science Education.) The new Advanced Placement Curriculum Framework for AP Biology began this year, with plans for revamping AP Chemistry (2013-2014) and AP Physics (2014-2015) on the horizon. The new frameworks give students a chance to hone their skills at the lab bench, which is crucial for their success with the new AP Science Examinations and the upcoming transition to NGSS. Here is the third installment of the seven practices overview, with use-them-now tips for your classroom. The first six science practices can be found in our February issue of eCCSMarch issue of eCCS, and April issue of eCCS.

7.     CONNECT AND RELATE knowledge across various scales, concepts, and representations.

Connecting across scales and representations is frequently done in science classrooms by building concept maps and flow charts. As we reach the countdown to the AP Biology Exam (May 13th), review activities that include science practices work to build comprehension and help enhance student understanding of practices. The following are two strategies for implementing science practice seven in your classroom.

Practice seven asks students to make connections of scale, across disciplines, and within timeframes. One potential way to accomplish this is by dividing students into groups of four and giving each student a copy of the Big Idea Framework that contains the Essential Knowledge for each Big Idea. Have students cut out the Essential Knowledge and “play” a piece of knowledge by giving an illustrative example that pertains to their knowledge. The next student must link their card to the previous card, lay their piece of the framework on top of the one played, and explain how it connects and provide their own illustrative example. For instance, student one has Big Idea 1 and plays: 1.A.4: Biological evolution is supported by scientific evidence from many disciplines, including mathematics; they link it to the example of graphing allele frequencies in a population. The next student links graphing allele frequencies to Big Idea 4: The level of variation in a population affects population dynamics and gives the example of Wheat Rust, opening the game to the next player. The player who gets rid of their cards the fastest first, wins.

One of my biology teacher heroes, Paul Andersen, (Montana Teacher of the Year, YouTube Guru, and flip-teaching wizard, plays a game with his students based on “The Wiki Game,” to build connections within text. This can be another great strategy to achieve Science Parctice 7. Students read and race through Wikipedia articles with specific curriculum goals in mind, searching for connections and clicking on key words to link concepts together. As they read they keep track of their linking strategies and number of clicks to get from the beginning to the end of a teacher-created sequence. For example, students attempting to follow the path from Peppered Moth→Feedback→Cellulose→Himalayan Rabbit . Paul Andersen did it in 36 clicks, my trip took 34, but I admit that I used the “search” button and worked backwards at one time: see the “Dixon’s trip” included at the bottom of this article. Using this method, students travel from the first term to the second, for example linking a “Peppered Moth” article to an “Evolution” article by finding specific links within Wikipedia to carry them from one to the next, then to another, until they reach the final content item.

The goal is to reach Science Practice 7: Connect and relate knowledge across various scales, concepts, and representations. This practice is broken down into two parts: connecting phenomena and models across spatial and temporal scales, and connecting concepts in and across domain(s) to generalize or extrapolate in (and/or across) enduring understandings/big ideas. Wikipedia provides opportunities for both of these parts, but it’s important for students to keep track of their reasoning. As they click through the sequence, require your students to keep a separate page describing what they clicked and WHY it links to the next concept. Students are challenged to watch for citations at the bottom of each page. Wikipedia has come a long way in the last few years, and there are educational uses for it that include helping students to link content and to expand on their information. In my search I found myself reading up on alfalfa, (I didn’t know most varieties are tetraploid!), and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins – things I wouldn’t have linked with feedback loops initially. This illustrates the risk that students might become enthralled with the wealth of information and go off-task. Setting a time limit insures that students are on-task and not overwhelmed. Breaking each link into pairs or groups and challenging students to get from one to the other with the fewest clicks can also make the game move faster.

AP Connections via Wikipedia Practice #7: Dixon’s Trip:

Peppered MothFeedback→CelluloseHimalayan Rabbit

My Pathway:
Peppered Moth to Evolution to Carrying Capacity to Evolution to Metabolic Pathways to Circadian Rhythm to Hypothalamus to Oxytocin to Feedback Loop to Insulin Oscillations to Downregulation and Upregulation to Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins to Cytochrome P450 to Vitamin D to Alfalfa to Legumes to Cattle to Cellulose to Termites to Insects to Fly to Drosophilidae to Drosophila melanogaster to Phenotype to Thomas Hunt Morgan to Zoology to Classification to Evolutionary Taxonomy to Animal Kingdom to Mammals to Lagomorpha to Leporidae to European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) to Angora Rabbits to Himalayan Rabbit

AP Biology Wiki Game for Science Practice 7:

The DON’Ts:

Except where otherwise noted, any player breaking these rules automatically forfeits the game.

DO NOT use the Wiki search box.

DO NOT use any of the links outside of the page’s contents. The contents of a page are demarcated by gray lines that intersect to make the page box. DO NOT click (for example) “Help,” “Donations,” “Related Changes,” “Category…” etc.

DO NOT visit external websites, you must stay within the bounds of Wikipedia.

DO NOT use the backspace or back arrow to return to a previous page. History is bunk in the Wiki Game (unless a referee or an opponent demands a recount).

DO NOT click on dates e.g. 2001, as these pages are too broad to pose a challenge.

DO NOT employ automated search tools to find a path for you.

DO NOT edit the start page to insert a link to the home page.

DO NOT use the ctrl +F function to search for words.

DO NOT use countries e.g. UK, Canada, United States.

The DO’S:

DO make connections using the links of Wikipedia (as few as possible) to get from one concept to another.

DO write connection paths and challenge others to find them.

DO link Big Ideas, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Knowledge together within your puzzle.

DO have your AP Biology Big Ideas and Enduring Understandings Handy

DO record an answer sheet.

Example Task: Link from Peppered Moth→Feedback→Cellulose→Himalayan Rabbit

How many links did it take? __________

Task 1: Link from Conserved Core Processes of Evolution →Josiah Willard Gibbs→Stomata→Global Warming

Task 2:Link from Henrietta Lacks→Enzymes→Sickle-Cell Disease→Evolution

Task 3:Create two pathways of your own linking enduring understandings within two of the four Big Ideas.

Task 4:Create two pathways of your own linking enduring understandings between two Big Ideas.

Written by Bethany Dixon

Bethany Dixon is a science teacher at Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, is a CSTA Publications Committee Member, and is a member of CSTA.

One Response

  1. […] A new twist on concept mapping that I want to try out is a concept connecting activity called  “Wiki Game“. […]

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California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.