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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre & Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS)'s online course, Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds ALEX JENKIN: Throughout this course, we’re thinking about using a wider range of examples– in particular, trying to include more plant examples. Using a wider range of examples means making links across different areas of biology, instead of teaching isolated topics. Making links and interpreting data in unfamiliar contexts is something that students are now increasingly asked to do in assessments, so it’s vital that they’re able to apply their knowledge. Plants can really help students to make links because so many of the same processes that are seen in animals also take place in plants.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds The fact that students often focus on the differences between animals and plants can be a hindrance to the making links between them, and understanding that the same biological processes can be applied. By encouraging students to make links and explore examples of biological concepts and plants as well as animals, they’ll gain a greater understanding of universal biological processes and how they can apply their knowledge of them. We’ll focus on the topic of stem cells this week, thinking about how plant examples and practicals can be used to explore this area and how we can make links from stem cells to a wide range of biology topics.

Helping students make links

This week we are thinking about plant stem cells and the importance of making links to other areas of the biology curriculum.

The activities this week will support you to:

  • Develop your subject knowledge of plant stem cells
  • Explore practical work which develops students understanding of key concepts and enables them to make links to other areas of the biology curriculum
  • Consider how the use of concept mapping can encourage students to make links, address misconceptions and discover inspiring contexts to support learning.

But first, a question for you to consider, which we’ll return to at the end of the week…

Problem question

A fifteen year old student asks you this question: “If a whole plant can be grown from a piece of leaf that’s left on a window sill in a jar of water, why can’t we grow a complete human from a piece of a finger?”.

How would you answer this amazing question? Which areas of biology would you link to in your explanation?

Share your ideas below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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