Twenty students in Paul Lock's biology class at Urbana High School recently spent a month on an anthropology unit, where they investigated amino acid sequences of various organisms, such as whales and dolphins, to determine their evolutionary closeness. Working in small teams, the students used the Biology Workbench, a suite of bioinformatics research tools that scientists use every day. The Workbench organizes a diverse set of sequence and structure analysis tools into an easy-to-use, web-based interface. These tools have access to multiple and enormous biological databases. Biology Student Workbench is a growing collection of the education enhancements to the Biology Workbench including tutorials, inquiry-based laboratories, and resource materials, all of which help students and teachers to conduct open-ended investigations in molecular biology.
Bioinformatics is growing into a new discipline today through the application of information technology to molecular biology. The Human Genome Project is an important example of the work occurring in this new discipline. So, high school biology teachers, like Paul, are beginning to use bioinformatics tools, such as the Workbench, to engage their students in meaningful investigations into biological questions.
Want to know more? Read a recent
article about Paul's classroom. Browse an Inquiry Unit on the project. The classroom unit is also avalible in Word or HTML to facilitate curriculum integration and adaptation.