Lesson planning task: misconceptions

So far this week, we have only looked at misconceptions related to the topic of respiration. However, as students are familiar with many of the key concepts that they learn about across the Biology curriculum, sometimes this familiarity masks many misconceptions.

For example, here are some biological misconceptions drawn from several different areas of the curriculum:

  • Enzymes are denatured at very high and very low temperatures. Enzymes are less active, rather than denatured, at low temperatures. They are only denatured at temperatures above their optimum. Students often think that this optimum temperature is 37°C – human body temperature. However, different enzymes have very different optimum temperatures. Enzymes found in bacteria living in hot springs are only denatured by temperatures in excess of 100°C, while enzymes in some fish living in Arctic waters are denatured at much lower temperatures.

  • The different phenotypes (observable characteristics) shown by siblings are caused by genetic variation alone. Different phenotypes in siblings are caused by genetic variation AND variation caused by the environment

  • Only animals can be infected by pathogens The misconception here is that pathogens don’t infect plants. Plant pathogens are widespread and many examples of plant diseases are well known, for example Ash die-back.

You can find a lot of information about student’s misconceptions in science on the Project 2061 website

Classroom task

For this final activity, we’d like you to add to the lesson plan that you started at the end of week 1, and add in the misconceptions you think your students might have about your chosen topic or practical, as well as how you will check for these misconceptions during the lesson.

Don’t worry if you didn’t start your lesson plan in week 1, as you could use one of these activities instead, and describe the misconceptions the practical would address and how carrying out the practical would help your students to overcome these misconceptions:

  1. Seed dispersal
  2. Plant disease detectives
  3. Starch production in plants during photosynthesis
  4. What are chloroplasts?
  5. Demonstrating gravitropism in seedling stalks

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Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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