Biology Summative Essay
Before taking this course, I understood that I had a fair but vastly brief, understanding of biological concepts. I learned many things during this study of the biological world. For the purposed of this essay I will now address three of which. The first was osmosis, for some reason in all past classes the definition of osmosis that was used was “diffusion except with water”. I had this definition memorized and in every class previous to this one it was only expected that one could define osmosis, not apply it, and so I went since the concept was introduced to me, thinking that osmosis was the process of particles going to equilibrium in water, instead of the water itself moving to find equilibrium as I now know is the true definition.
The second misunderstanding that I would like to point out, or better put, lack-of-understanding, was the processes that occur in the cell cycle. Based on what I had previously been taught, I believed that the cell cycle was much simpler than it really is, I thought that interphase was an actual step in the cycle, but I now understand that it is a part of cellular division as well as the normal functions that the cell must carry out. Third on my list of misunderstandings, my previous belief on the operation of neurons was that they simply fired electrical pulses. This was the greatest misunderstanding and lack of understanding that I have had. I had no idea how complex the workings of neurons were and I wrongly believed that I knew all there is to know about them. Neurons are the most amazing work of nature, their complexity together hardly is as complex as to how they can possibly work together to perform such incredible feats when one examines how a single neuron functions if it were alone. The process of sending signals is a chemical process much more than it is an electrical process. I find it amazing that this fact was never made evident to me prior to this class, or that I never endeavored on my own to understand how my own mind works.
During this course, I learned many remarkable facts and aspects of how the world we live in works. This class was equally about applying knowledge as it was about learning it. As a learner I found that I succeed with learning the information as long as I knew what information I needed. When it comes to applying information, I feel as though my difficulty was taking information that I knew and using it to answer a question that was not simply about reciting the information. This is the first class that I have ever taken where I had to use what I knew in that way. It sounds easy when simply stating it, but in reality, this completely new experience goes against years of what you might be able to call 'mental programming'. Being very use to memorized learning methods where if one simply read the text they could be quizzed on the text, I found it difficult to do otherwise. I found that the best tool for me to help apply my knowledge was to read the text while going over my notes from class, then to draw and label a diagram. My best memory of this and most effective tool was during the section on the digestion. I drew a complete human digestive tract and copied all of my notes onto it and put them in the location that they pertained to. Another activity that I found useful was the dialysis lab. This lab really showed me how diffusion and osmosis can act separately and how they can affect each other. This lab truly enhanced my understanding of how matter tends to seek equilibrium. It also showed how to determine which molecules are too large to diffuse without any energy needed such as when cells use energy for integrin transport proteins to allow large molecules or charged particles (ions) into themselves. The unit that I most enjoyed was macromolecules and the periodic table of elements. Personally I am absolutely fascinated by the mechanics of how atoms bond and why they bond. Electronegativity was a newly introduced concept for me. The periodic table print-out showing the electronegativity of atoms V.S. their size was very helpful because I was able to visualize how the atoms decrease in size as electronegativity increases. Learning about the elements was my favorite activity.
I have acquired many new skills during this time of biological study. Among the most useful of these are being able to convert metric numbers based on decimal places, writing lab reports, being able to interpret bohr models, and being able to predict offspring using punnett squares. Converting metric units is a useful tool that I will be able to use in both scientific and mathematical studies. I will need to write lab reports many times in the future so I am glad that I was able to get practice now so that I will be better off in the future when I have to write them. It is important to be able to use bohr models to represent atoms and atoms that are bonded together, and being able to predict the possible outcome of offspring based on the traits of two parents is helpful for any experiments involving cross breeding plants to produce better varieties. These skills help me to communicate with the scientific world as well as interpret scientific data with much greater accuracy and ease. This will help me with future labs and other various reports.
I am happy to submit this portfolio for grading, but not to represent what I have learned. I feel as though there is so much that is not in it. This portfolio is important for my grades which makes it important to me, but only in that one way. If I were going to put only what I thought was important into it, it would be a collection of diagrams and notes with the exception of four or five printed documents. In the future I think there should be a section of the portfolio titled “Stuff I would keep” This would be a section for copies of documents that the student would keep to teach another student about a topic or subject.
My proudest moment in Honors biology was during the dialysis lab. My lab partner was absent and we had not previously been able to agree on what the best way to conduct the experiment would be. I went along with what I thought was right and what seemed logical to do. During the whole experiment I was unsure how to answer the question of proving if starch or glucose was bigger. When I finished the experiment I figured it out based on the fact that the starch could not diffuse. I felt so relieved because I had no idea prior or during the experiment if I was doing the correct things then it all worked!
If I could view my self from afar and see myself doing what I have done in this class I would probably not intervene except for the few times that I forgot to do an assignment. After reading the initial narrative essay that I wrote at the beginning of the term, the first thing that I noticed was that I have improved with my grammar. Also after reading what I wrote I can elaborate even more and use use things I wrote about like pH in other areas of knowledge that I acquired later on in the semester such as kidneys and electron transport chains.