BioMathLab: Laboratory Experiences in Biomathematics
Provided by Dr. James Haefner, Department of Biology, Utah State University
(Freshman level) Students answer the question: Why don't cells in water explode?
Osmosis (Student Version)
Osmosis (Instructor Version)
(Freshman level) Students answer the question: How does light control photosynthesis in a lake?
To set the stage, we introduced the problem and had a large lecture hall of students simulate light decreasing with depth using strips of paper for light levels and lecture rows (back-to-front) as lake depth:
Lecture that sets the stage (with in-class game)
This module spanned two weeks of labs. The first week the students developed a model for light extinction with depth (Beer's Law) and tested it with light shining horizontally through multiple aquaria.
Beer's Law (Student Version)
Beer's Law (Instructor Version)
In the second week, students developed a model for the effects of light on photosynthesis and tested the models with oxygen evolution from Elodea:
Photosynthesis (Student Version)
Photosynthesis (Instructor Version)
The base of natural logarithms (e) arises in Beer's law, and here's why:
(Freshman) Students answer the question: How many M&Ms can a blind-folded student eat?
(Actually, we use little discs of sandpaper with thumbtacks, and to date, no student has tried to eat them.)
Holling Disc (Student Version)
Holling Disc (Instructor Version) (Lots of hints on how to teach math to students)
Holling Disc ZIP file (All the pdf files with homework.)
(Freshman and Senior/Grad) Students answer the question: Are Guppies picky eaters?
Following on the Holling Disc exercise, students test the hypothesis that fish (Guppies) forage optimally by choosing the most profitable prey (Artemia/Daphnia).
First, the students generate an expectation using sandpaper discs and they measure fish behavior:
Human Foraging Decisions
Then they test the predictions:
Fish Foraging (Student Version)
Fish Foraging (Instructor Version)
(Senior Level) Students answer the question: Why are some leaves hairy?
This exercise uses a Windows based program to calculate a leaf's heat balance. The approach is quantitative, but not discovery-based: the model and equations are given to the students.
Heat Balance (zip file with MS Word and exe files).
(Junior/Senior level) Students answer the question: Why do large islands have so many species?
This exercise is preceded by a directed discussion of recursion equations, but most of this is not included in the following reprint of:
Haefner, J. W., D. E. Rowan, E. W. Evans, and A. M. Lindahl. 2002. Island biogeography: students colonize islands to test hypotheses. Pages 191-218 in Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching. Volume 23. (M. A. O'Donnell, editor). Proceedings of the 23rd Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology
Laboratory Education (ABLE). University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Island Biogeography Paper
(Senior level) Students answer the question: What is the best way to estimate the Michaelis-Menten constants?
Basics of Michaelis-Menten (derivation)
Basics of Non-linear Regression
Michaelis-Menten (zip file with all lecture pdf files of: (1) pre- and post test; (2) derivation of M-M; (3) non-linear regression; (4) homework.
SAS Code and Data Sets SAS code to do linear regression on transformed data and non-linear regression
(Junior/Senior level) Students answer the question: How can a bird fly across the ocean without eating?
No pdf files for this Ornithology module, but here is a link to the module webpage.
Jim Haefner's homepage at Utah State University
Last Updated: 2 Oct 2008