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Cell Discoveries

Shelly Peretz



Abstract

In this project, students explored the world of scientists and their discoveries relating to cell research. Students were to design and build a ClarisWorks database that could answer their questions by browsing, searching, and sorting their database in a variety of ways.

Students will 1) observe, compare and describe cell organelles in terms of their function, structure and operation; 2) enter and edit information in a database; 3) build and sort a student-designed database; and 4) find records in a database.


Learning Outcomes

  • Observe, compare and describe cell organelles in terms of their function, structure and operation.
  • Enter and edit information in a database.
  • Build and sort a student-designed database.
  • Find records in a database.

  • Information for the Teacher

    Prior to building the database, students had examined a variety of materials with a microscope to gain an understanding of the cellular structure of living things. In the lab they determined the size, in micrometers (microm), of plant and animal cells using a small, transparent millimeter ruler and a variety of plant and animal cells so that they could later conceptualize the extremely small sizes of the organelles that they were researching.

    The whole class was introduced to the Cell Discoveries template and we discussed how it was designed. This project was modified from the Inventions project in ClarisWorks 2.0 in the Classroom. I began by asking students what kinds of information they use in their everyday life. I explained that a database is a software tool that helps you work with information. Within each record, there are fields or categories of information. As the records grow in number, information is easily retrieved by using the Find command. Information can also be sorted by selected fields. A database provides students with a tool to manage information in their own way.

    Students were asked too make a list of all the field headings they thought would be necessary to organize their cell research information. Suggested fields included the name of the organelle (the discovery), the scientist credited with the discovery, the country, the year of discovery, description, size, number, function, what kinds of cells the organelle is found in, reference materials, and the name of the student who did the research. I demonstrated how to redesign the database using the fields and types of information from the previous discussion.

    The class was divided into groups of 3-4 to do research about cell organelles. Group members were expected to provide help and encouragement to each other in order to ensure that all members did the assigned work. Everyone in the group would receive the same grade for this project. A blank record was printed from the data base for data collection. Students used their textbook for their initial search and then spent time in the school library and their local public library researching those little known facts. After students gathered data about each cell organelle they entered it into their own ClarisWorks database.

    In a think-pair-share activity, students were ask to write questions that could be answered by browsing, searching or sorting their database in a variety of ways. Questions included: What country is the most active in cell research? What reference source provided the most information about cells? Does the size of the organelle have anything to do with when it was discovered? What organelles are involved in protein synthesis? cell reproduction? What organelles are found in animal cells, but not plant cells?

    Students were able to observe, compare and describe several cell organelles in terms of their structure and function. Students also learned to use the class database to record their research data. By looking closely at the data contained in the database, students were able to answer many questions by using searching and sorting techniques. Trends could be seen by repetition of data in one field. Rules or hypotheses were revealed through the patterns in the data. As students explore and take ownership in their learning, they will transfer these computer skills to other learning situations.

    Students were evaluated based on their completed database and their ability to retrieve that information. Part of learning is thinking back about what you have experienced and accomplished so students were asked to take some time to think about the project and responded to five open-ended questions.

    In the following unit on cell reproduction, students were able to use their knowledge of cell structure to draw and caption a six-block cartoon strip to demonstrate an understanding of mitosis. Humor was encouraged. Student drawings included the important cell structures and indicated proper movements of the structures, but with a humorous twist.

    Less than 5% of my students have home computers. Many of my students had never used a computer for any other activity other than drill and practice. Students became competent and creative in their use of the computer as a personal tool. Students were actively involved in the learning process and were able to use that information to answer their own questions, not mine.


    Student Worksheet: Cell Discoveries

    Name ____________________________

    Date __________________ Period _____

    Your project involves conducting research on various cell parts, entering data and editing the information on a database. You will later design some questions that other people could answer by browsing, searching, and sorting your database in a variety of ways.

    A database is a software tool that help you work with information. In the database environment, you design and create numbered records, and then you arrange them, sort them, and retrieve information and print reports. Within each record, there are fields or categories of information. The information in a field can be one of six types: text, number, time, date, calculation, or summary.

    As your records grow in number, information is easily retrieved by using the find command. You can also sort your information by selected fields. A database provides you with a tool to manage information in your own way.

    1. Examine the class database to determine exactly what kind of information you need to gather for each field or category. Use the form provided to gather the appropriate information for cell organelles, making sure you have data each field or category.

    2. You can use any or all of the field names in the database, change the field names, or delete any you do not want.

      Field Headings

      You will want to recall facts from the database. Make a list of all the field headings you think will be required. Think of the kinds of questions you will want to ask about the data. What will you want to compare? What related information would be useful? You can always add more field headings to the database, if you find you need them later.

      Information Types

      List the types of information to be contained in each field. It may be text, number, date, time, calculation, or summary.

      Number fields contain data which may require some arithmetic treatment, such as averaging. Fields such as phone numbers should be created as text. For measurement data, it is helpful to include the precision of the information in the field heading, such as Height in cm or Mass in g.

    3. Enter your research data into your database.

    4. Design some questions that other people could answer by browsing, searching, and sorting your database in a variety of ways. By looking closely at the data contained in the database, you can answer many questions. Trends can be seen by repetition of data in one field. Rules or hypotheses will be revealed through the patterns in the data. These should be verified through the examination of a larger data set.

    5. Complete the evaluation sheet regarding this project.

    To set up or change the fields in the database:

    1. Examine the suggested fields in the database.

    2. To change a field heading or type, add a new field, or delete a field entirely, choose Define Fields from the Layout menu. The Define Fields dialog box appears.

    To enter information in the database:

    1. Choose Browse from the Layout menu.

    2. Click in the space to the right of the first field, labeled discovery. Text entry boxes appear, with the cursor in the topmost box.

    3. Type the data in the text entry box. Press the Tab key to move to the next box.

    4. When your first record is complete, choose Save from the File menu. To start a new, blank entry record, choose New Record form the Edit menu.

    To find a record in the database:

    1. Choose Find from the Layout menu to search the database for records you request.

    2. A blank record appears. In any of the fields, type the information you want to find.

    3. Click Visible to search visible records or All to search both visible and hidden records. Records with that information are grouped together. The status panel tell you how many records contain that information.

    Organizing the Information:

    Once you find the subset of the database that you want to work with, you can sort it either alphabetically, numerically, or chronologically; in either ascending or descending order. You may choose to use more than one sort criteria. These should be identified in order of priority. Arrange the fields in a layout that will permit easy comparison of data while answering questions.

    To sort records in the database:

    1. Choose Sort Records from the Organize menu. The Sort Records dialog box appears.

    2. Select the first field by which you want to sort and click a sort order (ascending or descending).

    3. Click the Move button. The field name moves to the Sort Order list.

    4. Click OK. Your database is sorted and the recordsappear on your screen in that order.


    Database Structure

    Discovery                   Year Discovered      
    Country                     Found in Cells of
    Scientist                   Relative Size
    Description                 Role
    Number Present in Cells     Function
    Information Source          Researched by
    


    Student Worksheet: Thinking Back About the Project

    Part of learning is thinking back about what you have experienced and accomplished. Take some time to think about the project and answer these questions.

    Name ______________________

    Project ______________________

    Date _______________________

    1. I learned from this project that
    _______________________________________
    _______________________________________

    2. I worked on this project:

    By myself _________

    With a group _______

    The part I contributed to my group was
    _______________________________________
    _______________________________________

    3. The part of the project that I enjoyed the most was
    _______________________________________
    _______________________________________

    4. I think I need more help with
    _______________________________________
    _______________________________________

    5. I could use what I learned in this project to
    _______________________________________
    _______________________________________


    Cell Discoveries Database Directions

    Cell Discoveries is a stationery database file. Choose Save As from the File menu to name your database document. The field names match the categories and types on the sample data collection sheet. You can use any or all of the fields names in the database, change the field names, or delete any you do not want. Here are some considerations for building a database.

    Field Headings

    You will want to recall facts from the database. Make a list of all the field headings you think will be required. Think of the kinds of questions you will want to ask about the data. What will you want to compare? What related information would be useful? You can always add more field headings to the database, if you find you need them later.

    Information Types

    List the types of information to be contained in each field. It may be text, number, date, time, calculation, or summary.

    Number fields contain data which may require some arithmetic treatment, such as averaging. Fields such as phone numbers should be created as text. For measurement data, it is helpful to include the precision of the information in the field heading, such as Height in cm or Mass in g.


    Cell Discoveries Database Activity

    Use the class database on inventions to record your research data. Here are some hints:

    Step 1

  • Examine the class database to determine exactly what kind of information you need to gather for each field or category.

  • Print out several blank records from the Discoveries template to use as data collection sheets.

    Step 2

  • Gather the appropriate information for at least 10 cell parts, making sure you have data for each of the fields.

    Step 3

  • Design some questions that other people could answer by browsing, searching, and sorting your database in a variety of ways.
  • Your database needs to include the appropriate information for at least 10 cell parts.

    Cell parts

    5 points for each complete record (one free field)
    loss of 1 point for each incomplete field

    Your group needs to design some questions that other people could answer by browsing, searching, and sorting your database in a variety of ways.

    Questions (5 points each)

    Grade Scale:

  • 100 - 90 = A
  • 89 - 80 = B
  • 79 - 70 = C
  • 69 - 60 = D

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