4 Branches Of Biology To Help You Narrow Down Your Focus

If you're a biology major, then you know it's a scientific field that is vast and full of opportunities. So much so, that it can also be overwhelming if you don't have a pre-determined focus.
Biology (from the Greek words "bios" for life and "logos" for study) is the study of all living organisms, ranging from the smallest, single-celled organisms to super-complex human beings. It's an overarching science, but within it are individual branches of biology — each with its own unique focus.

The Branches Of Biology

Biological science is classified into the following four main branches of biology:
  • Subdivisions based on their approaches of study
  • Medical sciences
  • Agricultural sciences
  • Biological science based on organisms
Each discipline has its own experts, its own courses of study and its own professional opportunities. Knowing which one of these branches of biology you want to specialize in will give you a leg up as you enter college, because you'll be able to take specialized classes designed to maximize your potential and future opportunities.

Here, at Biology Junction, we've put together a list of scientific specialties available for study within those four main branches of biology. Read the individual listings under each of the branches of biology to discover which might be a perfect fit for your interests.

Subdivisions Based On Approach Of Study

Branches of biology that focus on specific biological processes, such as the interaction either between different organisms or within a single organism's biological functions, include:

Anatomy


Anatomy is the study of the inner workings of organisms, specifically focusing on the physical structures and organs of plants and animals. It further subdivides into even more specific branches of biology, including morphology (the study of form and structure), histology (the study of the fine details of biological cells observed via microscopes), cytology (the study of function of plant and animal cells) and physiology (the study of the functions and activities of living organisms).

Biochemistry


Biochemistry is the study of natural chemical reactions and processes that take place inside biological organisms and how to affect them. Biochemistry is a field valuable for work in the pharmaceutical industry, because it is helpful in the development of new drugs.

Biogeography


This is the study of the way various species and ecosystems are distributed in different regions of the world through time and structural evolution.

Biogeology


This is the study of the relationship between Earth's biosphere (the surface area occupied by living organisms) and its lithosphere (the outer surface of the earth including the crust and outer mantle).

Ecology


Ecology focuses on the interactions between Earth's organisms and their natural environment.

Embryology


Embryology examines the development of the embryo/fetus from the earliest stages through the birth process.

Eugenics


This is the study of how to improve the natural strengths of humanity through genetic selection. Although its primary aim today is to remove genetic disorders from the population, the field is controversial and mostly defunct due to its close association with racism. The remaining elements have been folded in with the study of genetics.

Evolution


Evolution is the study of the gradual changes in plants, animals and other life forms over the life cycle of Earth. It focuses primarily on the process of natural selection.

Genetics


This is the branch of biology focused on heredity and natural biological variations between generations. It focuses on the changes in the genetic code based on the combination of genes.

Immunology


This is a discipline that keys in on immune systems and how to improve those natural defenses against infection within humans, animals and other organisms.

Paleontology


Paleontology is the study of plant and animal fossils to observe the similarities and differences with modern life. It focuses heavily on extinct life forms such as dinosaurs and megafauna.

Parasitology


Among the branches of biology is parasitology, which focuses on parasitic life forms, or organisms that live on or inside other life forms taking their nourishment from their hosts.

Pathology


Pathology focuses on diseases caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi and their effect on the host plant or animal. This overlaps some with parasitology, due to the parasitic nature of many disease-causing organisms. It is a field that leads to careers in the medical profession with its focus on treating rare diseases.

Taxonomy


Taxonomy is the study of classifications, determining the names, groups and subcategories of plants, animals and other organisms. It centers on finding both the similarities and differences between species. This discipline is also known as "systematics."

Medical Sciences

This is the field of biology devoted to human biological processes and how to improve health. It focuses on curing diseases, repairing injuries and solving rare conditions. Most fields focus on humans exclusively, but some expand to the health and treatment of animals,

Cardiology


Cardiology is a medical science that focuses on diseases and disorders of the heart. This includes both congenital birth defects and acquired heart diseases caused by heart congestion. Many cardiology specialists become cardio-thoracic surgeons who specialize in open-heart surgery and transplants.

Dentistry


This branch of medical science focuses people's mouths. Dentists diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the teeth and gums, as well as develop preventative methods to help people avoid the ill effects of tooth decay and gum disease before they happen.

Dermatology


Dermatology is the medical science that focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions of the skin. These common disorders also affect the hair and nails, which are also treated by dermatologists.

Gynecology and Obstetrics


Gynecology and obstetrics are medical sciences that deal with the female reproductive system, with gynecology focusing on caring for the reproductive health of women before they become pregnant and obstetrics focusing on caring for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Nephrology


This branch of medical science deals with diseases and disorders of the kidney. Nephrologists often treat patients who have issues with their kidneys and they also conduct kidney transplants and post-transplant care.

Oncology


This is the branch of medical science that researches, diagnoses and treats various forms of cancers. There are many subdivisions focusing on specific types of cancer such as neuro-oncology, which studies and treats tricky cancers of the brain.

Ophthalmology


Ophthalmology is a medical science dealing with the anatomy and physiology of the eyeball and orbit. It specializes in treating vision disorders related to genetics, injury, age or disease. The most common area of ophthalmology involves diagnosing minor eye disorders and prescribing corrective eyewear.

Orthopedics


This medical science is devoted to the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. It primarily focuses on the diagnoses and treatment of injuries and disorders, with specialized divisions focusing on prevention and rehabilitation.

Pediatrics


Pediatrics is a medical science that focuses on the general medical care of infants, children and adolescents. Many subdivisions have pediatric specialists, such as dentistry and oncology, as the medical needs of the young can differ.

Physiotheraphy


This branch of medicine focuses on the science of movement and helps people to rehabilitate after injuries or to maintain physical strength or balance while suffering chronic conditions. The goal of physiotherapy is to help people restore their physical strength and range of motion by addressing underlying issues and overall physical and emotional well-being. There are several subdivisions of physiotherapy that focus on rehabilitation from specific conditions, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputations.

Urology


Urology is a medical science that focuses on treating conditions of the male and female urinary tract. It also focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders of the male reproductive system and often crosses over with fertility.

Agricultural Sciences

These are the branches of biology devoted to human interaction with their environment, particularly where it relates to harvesting plants or raising livestock for consumption.

Agriculture


This is the agricultural science branch focusing on raising crops and livestock. Also known as farm science or ag science, it opens the doors to careers in food science and production.

Animal Husbandry


This branch of agriculture focuses on the breeding and raising of domestic animals like cows, pigs, goats, and sheep, as well as their use for meat, fabric, dairy and eggs. It is the most common agricultural science used by farmers.

Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical engineers work with doctors and therapists to develop the tools they do for their job. The biomedical engineer uses their knowledge of the biological process to design the instruments in a way that will not interfere with human health or cause side effects.

Biometrics


Biomedical engineers work with doctors and therapists to develop the tools they do for their job. The biomedical engineer uses their knowledge of the biological process to design the instruments in a way that will not interfere with human health or cause side effects.

Biotechnology


This field focuses on the interaction between the human body and function and artificial products designed to improve human quality of life. A subdivision, bioengineering, focuses on the development of prosthetics, joint replacements, pacemakers, and artificial organs.

Cloning


This field of research involves using DNA from an organism to create genetic duplicates. Research currently focuses on animals and is highly controversial, with research into human cloning outlawed in most locations.

Forensic Science


Similar to biometrics, this division uses genetic markers such as DNA and fingerprints in the service of criminal justice. It focuses on the identification and evaluation of physical evidence and suspects.

Horticulture


This is the field of agricultural science specializing in the science of producing and developing plants for human use. This includes fruits, vegetables, flowers, and decorative plants. The field involves the study of the biological processes of plants and the art of evolving them for speedy development and shelf-stability.

Marine Biology


This field of science specializes in marine organisms and their interactions with humans, other marine animals, and their environment. Those interested in aquaculture or ocean preservation often go into this field.

Molecular Biology


Among the branches of biology, this one focuses on biological activity in individual molecules. Molecular biologists regularly have training in genetics and biochemistry.

Nuclear Biology


This is the field of science that focuses on the interaction of radioactivity with human cells and how to counter the diseases and deterioration that radiation exposure causes.

Pisciculture


This is the study of the domestic rearing of fish as a food source, also known as aquaculture. Specialists in pisciculture focus on the behavior and survival rates of fish in artificial habitats for farming, and provide much of the fish for domestic consumption as the supply of fresh-caught fish diminishes.

Sericulture


This is the study of and raising of silkworms for their raw silk production.

Space Biology


A newer branch of biology, it focuses on the impact of zero gravity and space travel on living organisms. These scientists work with NASA and have tested on both plant and animal life-forms.

Tissue Culture


This biological research field takes fragments of tissue from plant or animal organisms to study in artificial environments for research and experimentation.

Veterinary Science


This branch is a hybrid of agricultural and medical science, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses in domestic animals. There are veterinary specialists for both domestic animals/pets and livestock.

Science Based On Organisms

This division focuses on the study of individual branches of life. There are four primary categories: botany, human biology, microbiology and zoology.

Botany


This is the study of plants and all subcategories including algae, fungi and flowering plants.

Human Biology


This is the branch of biology studying human physiology, evolution, genetics and culture.

Microbiology


This is the study of all living organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye. This includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions and archaea.

Zoology


This is the study of all non-human members of the animal kingdom, including mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds and invertebrates.Within these four categories there are many subdivisions. They include:

Bacteriology


The study of bacteria and their interaction with other life forms.

Virology


The study of viruses and their interaction with other life forms.

Mycology


The study of fungi, their life cycle and interaction with the environment and other life forms.

Entomology


The study of insects and their interaction with the environment and other species of animals and plants.

Ichthyology


The study of fish and their interaction with their ocean and freshwater habitats.

Herpetology


The study of reptiles and amphibians.

Ornithology


The study of birds, their interaction with the environment and their unique bone structure that makes them capable of flight.

Conclusion

When you narrow down your focus from a biology major to the specific branches of biology you plan to major in, you will find that many opportunities will open for you. Not only are you able to tailor your classes to those relevant to your future career, but you're also able to seek opportunities for hands-on study.

An ichthyology major can talk to veteran ichthyologists at a major aquarium while a biotechnology major will find experts at a physical therapy clinic. Whatever your field of study, the more specific you are about your choice among the branches of biology the better equipped you will be to pursue your dream job.

Featured Image: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Proper Lab Report Format You Need to Know to Pass with Flying Colors

Learning how to construct a proper lab report will not only secure you with a stellar grade in your science class, but it also will teach you how to report coherently your scientific findings to the world once you are in the field.

Lab reports are an essential part of the scientific process and are constructed always after a scientific experiment or study. Therefore, learning the proper lab report format is integral to your overall success.

Below, we have detailed all the components of your lab report and have explained the elements that must be included in your rough draft.

If you adhere to our guidelines, you will have all the pertinent information you need to get yourself that A on your lab report.

How to Draft Your Lab Report

This goes without saying, but you need to have a thorough grasp of the material that you are studying before you can write your report.

If there are elements you are unsure about and that need clarification, make certain you get that missing information before you write your report.

Your lab report needs to show that you have a complete understanding of the experiment or study you are covering, but it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of all the information you have covered in your experiment.

To keep yourself organized, make a rough draft of your report with the following points in mind.

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Questions You Need to Answer before Starting Your Report

To make things easier for yourself, you need a clear outline that provides answers to specific questions the report will be answering.

Jot down the answers to the following questions before writing your lab report to help you cohesively tie together all the information in your experiment:

  • What do you hope to learn from the experiment?
  • What is the hypothesis you are testing?
  • What will be done in the experiment?
  • Why is this method the best way to test your hypothesis?
  • Why would the scientific community (or classroom) benefit from the knowledge presented in the experiment?

Answering these questions will put you in an excellent position to draft an impressive lab report and give you a thorough understanding of the material at hand.

Double Check Your Data with Your Lab Partners

Human error is likely to happen from time to time, and nothing is more important in your lab report than the accuracy of your data.

To ensure you and your lab partners are on the same page and that you all have the correct data, get together after you have completed your experiment to double check your findings.

It is much better for you to catch this mistake now than for your professor to catch it while grading your report and deduct points for the error.

Know How to Use APA Format

Before you begin your lab report, it is important that you know the basics. APA format is the most widely used format for lab reports and has specific guidelines that you need to follow.

Make sure that your paper is formatted properly so that you get the highest grade possible. Nothing is worse than writing an amazing report only to have your professor deduct points for improper formatting.

The following should be consistent throughout your entire report to reflect proper APA formatting:

  • Paper is double-spaced
  • Margins are one inch all around
  • Font is 12 point Times New Roman
  • Manuscript page header with page number appears in the upper right-hand corner of every page

Write with Your Audience in Mind

Finally, before you write your lab report, make sure you know the audience to whom you are addressing.

Write the report as if you are explaining it to a clueless student to ensure that you are thorough and accurate in your reporting. 

Addressing your report solely to your professor may cause you to gloss over simpler concepts or ideas, and this may result in a lower grade.

Proper Lab Report Format

Now that you are ready to write your report, it is important to know the proper lab report format you will be required to follow.

All lab reports follow the same basic formula and comprise five sections: the title page, introduction, methods and procedure, results and discussion.

These elements need to be included in your final lab report to explain thoroughly the results and findings of your scientific experiment or study.

Not only will this lab report format help to get you a good grade in class, but it also will get you accustomed to the professional standard that will be expected of you once you are in the field.

Below, you will find detailed descriptions of each section, as well as the main points you need to cover in each section.

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Section One: Title Page

First things first. Proper lab report format calls for a title page that describes in 10 words or less what your scientific experiment is proving.

Titles should start with an action word and vividly describe the premise of the experiment. A successful title will describe succinctly the main idea behind your experiment or study and entice the reader to learn more about your research.

The title page also should include your name and your lab partner's name, your instructor's name, and the date on which the report was submitted.

Section Two: Introduction

Proper lab report format always will include a thorough introduction of about 150-200 words that includes four basic elements: the purpose of the experiment, the tested hypothesis, a reasonable justification of your hypothesis and a stated connection between the experiment and relevant background research/information.

An easy way to structure your introduction would be to start by first stating your purpose. From there, it is easy to segway seamlessly from your purpose to the relevant background information (often taken from class learnings or lectures) supporting your purpose.

This will lead you to the conclusion of your introduction. Here, you will state your hypothesis and reasonable justification of that hypothesis in the final sentences.

This wording method for your introduction is common, but unnecessary. Feel free to experiment with different sentence structures that better suit your particular subject matter, if applicable.

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Section Three: Methods and Procedure

The goal of this particular section is to describe in succinct detail how you tested your hypothesis as well as to provide a reasonable justification and rationale for your chosen procedure.

Remember that the goal of scientific research is for it to be reproducible; therefore, other researchers should be able to follow your procedure so they can verify your findings through the same or similar collections of data.

For this reason, a clearly defined method and procedure are of the utmost importance to creating a successful lab report.

To begin this section, it is best to list all the materials you used in your method and procedure, as well as to define explicitly the control variable in the experiment.

The best way to structure this section is to keep it simple and just follow the chronological narrative that occurred as you were conducting your experiment.

Be detailed and always explain the rationale behind what you are doing to show an expert understanding of the material.

Make sure that you are being specific and detailed about how you got your results. Explain thoroughly what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Also, be sure to explain what you plan to do with your findings. Quantify all measurements such as time, temperature, volume, mass, etcetera to maintain accuracy throughout this section.

You may briefly mention how you quantified and recorded your results and data, but be careful not to jump too far ahead and describe the results in too much detail.

You may want to considering separating the material into subheadings corresponding to each individual component in this section if you had a particularly long or involved experiment to ensure clarity for the reader.

However, this is not a standard lab report format and it should only be used if you have a long list of materials to document or if your procedure was convoluted.

It also is important to remember to use proper grammar in this section to avoid any confusion. A common mistake is to use the present tense for describing your experimental procedures because you are writing it in the present tense.

However, you must use past tense to described the experiment that occurred in the past to avoid any uncertainty.

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Section Four: Results

The results section is the backbone of your lab report; all other sections of the report depend entirely upon the existence of this section. This is perhaps the most self-explanatory section included in your lab report and may even be your shortest.

The goal of this section is to document and highlight all the data that is significant to your hypothesis. You do not need to list every piece of data you have collected because not all the data will be relevant.

All you need to focus on here is to report the data that either proves or disproves your hypothesis in the form of three distinct parts: text, tables and figures. All results sections will start with a brief text description that clearly states the facts of the data.

However, be sure not to add so much text that it becomes analytical; you can save that for the next section. In your brief text descriptions, you will want to point out what your data shows in your tables and figures. You may also want to acknowledge and state trends that arise in your data.

Next, you will want to include your tables that show the trends in your data. As a general rule, you will only want to use tables if you have any variation in your data. If you have relatively unchanging variables, a table will not be the effective medium to display your data.

You also will want to be sure to give your table a relevant name and have the reader see the data vertically rather than horizontally.

Finally, you will conclude your results section by showing your readers a figure that demonstrates what happened to your independent and dependent variables as you carried out your experiment.

Depending upon the subject matter, you can include pie charts, bar graphs, flow charts, maps or photographs in this section.

Do note, however, that proper lab report format for undergraduates and industry professionals will be a line graph.

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Section Five: Discussion

Finally, to conclude your lab report you will need to detail your findings and determine whether your hypothesis was supported by your experiment.

There are five goals that need to be accomplished with this section, which include:

  • Explaining whether the data proved your hypothesis
  • Mentioning and interpreting any data that deviated from what you expected
  • Detailing reasonable conclusions about the subject matter that you studied
  • If applicable, relating your research to earlier work in the same field
  • Discussing the practical and theoretical implications of your findings

Most discussion sections will begin with explaining how your data either supported or denied your hypothesis. From there, you will need to make explicit statements that explain how your experiment either supported or denied your hypothesis.

Your lab report should be able to support a reasonable and justifiable claim based upon the results of your experiments, so be sure that you are very clear and concise in your wording here.

It is important to note that this section will have the most variability from a standard lab report format. It should be tailored to your specific subject matter and subsequent results as long as it meets the above requirements and goals.

Putting It All Together

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Writing out a lab report can be the most difficult part of any experiment, but now that you know the proper steps and format you will be able to earn that A+ you deserve.

Due remember to always follow the proper lab report format that we outlined above and you will be passing all of your science classes with flying colors.

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Why Is Carbon So Important In Biology? Key Element Of Life On Earth

Why is carbon so important in biology? This was a question that we felt deserved an in-depth answer. Carbon, which so many of us take for granted, is actually one of the most important elements to life as we know it. Carbon's molecular structure gives it the ability to form stable bonds with other elements, including itself, which makes it the central element of organic compounds. It makes up almost 20% of the weight of an organism, and it is essential for them to live, to grow, and to reproduce.

Because of its ability to form these bonds, carbon can create very large and complex molecules called macromolecules that make up living organisms. This is part of why this versatile element is considered the backbone, or basic structural component, of these molecules. Still wondering "Why is carbon so important in biology?" Let's take a deeper look at what this element is, what it does, and what it is used for, because there is much more to learn about carbon.

What Is Carbon?

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element on earth, and it is a finite resource because it cycles through the earth in so many forms. Without carbon, life as we know it would cease to exist because it is the main element in organic compounds that make up living things. The presence or absence of carbon determines whether an organism is organic or inorganic.

1

The Element

The name for carbon comes from the Latin word 'carbo' which means coal. It has the atomic number 6 and uses the symbol C. The 6 represents six electrons and six protons and its placement is in the middle of the periodic table as a representation that it is central to life as we know it. Some refer to carbon as the 'King of the Elements' because it is an absolute necessary to life. It has the highest melting point of the pure elements at 3,500 degrees Celsius, and it's one of the elements that ancient man knew in its pure form.

2

Stable Bonds

Carbon's molecular structure allows it to form bonds with many elements, itself other carbon elements. Because of this, it can form long chain molecules, each having different properties. Carbon remains in balance with other chemical reactions in the atmosphere and water because of its stability.

3

Organic Compounds

Organic compounds make up the cells and other structures of living organisms and they carry out the processes of life. Carbon is the main element of organic compounds we need to live. We group these organic compounds into four types: Carbohydrates (sugars and starches), Lipids (fats and oils), Proteins (enzymes and antibodies), and Nucleic Acids (DNA, RNA). Still wondering why is carbon so important in biology? It's role in creating living organisms is one of the core reasons we study it.

4

How Carbon Moves

Carbon, in its many forms, does not stay still. It moves all around the earth. It can move with respiration, photosynthesis, as a part of food chains, and by burning fuel, just to name a few.

What Is The Carbon Cycle?

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element on earth, and it is a finite resource because it cycles through the earth in so many forms. Without carbon, life as we know it would cease to exist because it is the main element in organic compounds that make up living things. The presence or absence of carbon determines whether an organism is organic or inorganic.

1

The Geological Carbon Cycle

The Geological Carbon Cycle is driven by the movements of the earth's tectonic plates and geological processes such as chemical weathering. The Geological Carbon cycle is how carbon moves between rocks and minerals, seawater, and the atmosphere. It takes place over millions of years.

2

The Biological or Physical Carbon Cycle

The Biological or Physical Carbon Cycle is the way carbon cycles through vegetation, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, soil, and in fossil fuel burning. It takes place from days to thousands of years.

Why Is Carbon So Important In Biology?

illustration of a dna gene

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Carbon is important in biology because without it, life itself would not exist. Carbon is important in everyday life for all living beings in order for them to live, grow, and reproduce. Carbon compounds are also very versatile and they are in many objects we use every day. Remember, the presence of carbon determines whether something is organic or inorganic.

1

Carbon And The Human Body

Sugars, DNA, proteins, fats, pretty much everything except water contains carbon in the human body. If you have heard it said water makes up most of the human body, then it would also be correct to say carbon makes up most of the other parts. This is another great example of an answer to the question "Why is carbon so important in biology?"

2

Photosynthesis And Respiration

The human body inhales oxygen from the atmosphere and when it combines with carbon, it creates carbon dioxide. The body does not need carbon dioxide so we exhale it when we breathe. Plants are the exact opposite. They take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and give off oxygen back into the atmosphere for us to breathe. All the carbon in your body once existed in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

3

Inorganic Compounds

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Many things we use are made of carbon. Rubber, plastics, gasoline, natural gas, are just a few examples. Also, coal and diamonds are made up of mostly carbon, and graphite, which gives pencil lead its black color, is pure carbon. Whenever a fire is burned, the black soot that results is a form of carbon.

4

Abundance In Nature

Carbon is found in different forms in all living beings on earth. Carbon is not only found in abundance on the earth, but the sun and the stars also contain carbon. Carbon also exists on many planets in the form of carbon dioxide.

5

Factors That Affect Carbon In The Atmosphere

There are many factors that affect the global concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, including seasons and human activities like carbon dioxide emissions. Environmental scientists and policy makers seek to understand these factors so they can try to pass regulations to offset negative impacts to the atmosphere.

How We Use Carbon

Allotropes are materials made from the same element, but their atoms fit together differently. Carbon exists on earth in three different allotropes: amorphous, graphite, and diamond. Almost every industry on the planet uses some form of carbon in their every day operations, and we highlight a few of those here.

1

Fuel

We use carbon for fuel in the form of coal, methane gas, petroleum, natural gas, and crude oil. There have also been some exciting breakthroughs by researchers as they have discovered how to take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into fuel. This could mean a more environmentally friendly fuel for the world.

2

Graphite

Graphite is pure carbon, and we use it for pencil tips, and one mechanical pencil lead of 0.7mm, has about 2 million layers of Graphene. It is also used as a lubricant, for high temperature crucibles, and electrodes. One form of graphite, called Graphene, is the thinnest strongest material ever known.

3

Materials

ink printers

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Carbon can form alloys with iron which makes carbon steel. We also find it in rubber, plastic, wood, and black pigment in ink used for printers or painting.

4

Diamonds

Diamonds are used to make jewelry, but because they are so hard that we also use them for cutting, drilling, grinding, and polishing. You can purchase many items such as cutting wheels that feature small diamonds on the edge for better cutting capabilities.

Conclusion

co2 written on a blackboard

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Here we have answered the question "why is carbon so important in biology?" and in doing so, we have discovered many interesting facts about this element. The first and most important is that we could not live if carbon did not exist. Every organic compound is built around this essential element and we need it for life as we know it. The presence or absence of this element determines whether something is organic or inorganic.


Another answer for the question "why is carbon so important in biology?" is that this element exists everywhere on earth. As the fourth most abundant element, not just on earth, but in the universe, it will forever be a part of our existence. It is interesting to note that more compounds exist that contain carbon than those that don't, and this is something for which we should be grateful.

Why is carbon so important in biology? It's not just one, but many reasons why it's so important, many of which we have listed here in our article. Carbon allows us to exist and it is in many of the things we use every day to build, create, and produce energy. Essential for life and useful, no wonder we call it the building block of life.

How To Become A Zoologist: Everything You Need To Know

If you love animals and are looking for a great career, zoology might be right for you. So, how to become a zoologist? It's a lengthy process, but by setting your goals early on, you'll be sure to achieve your dream.

Zoology is a fascinating field, and it's perfect for those interested in biology. It does require specialized study, but when the subject matter is so exciting, it won't feel like work!

How to Become a Zoologist

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So, how to become a zoologist?

To work in the field of zoology, you will need to earn a university-level degree. Some zoologist positions require only a bachelor's degree, but others will require an advanced degree.

If you wish to enter the field with a bachelor's degree, you should choose an appropriate major. While some universities may offer bachelor's degrees in zoology, not all do. If your university does not have a specific zoology major, another biology-based major can fit the bill.

For those who would like to start with a higher-level position, consider enrolling in a master's degree program in zoology. And if you would like to work as a researcher or professor of zoology, you will need a Ph.D.

Beyond this essential educational requirement, you can take several steps to strengthen your profile before going on the job market. For example, you can gain hands-on experience through volunteer work, or you can develop your outdoor skills to get a leg up on the competition.

What Does a Zoologist Do?

Before you learn how to become a zoologist, you should know what, exactly, a zoologist does.

A zoologist is a scientist who specializes in the study of animals. Not all zoologists work in zoos, though. Some zoologists work in laboratories, and others observe animals in their natural habitats. Did you know that some zoologists don't even work with living animals?

That's because zoology, the branch of biology that focuses on the animal kingdom, studies all animals, both living and extinct. Zoology is specifically concerned with the origin and development of different species, along with the habits and behaviors of animals. Some zoologists also study animal diseases.

As such, zoologists can work in many different settings and have extensive career opportunities. However, most zoologists work directly with animals, either in the wild or in captivity. Others work primarily in faculty positions as professors.

Zoologists who work directly with animals typically specialize in one or more species. They may develop and conduct experimental studies in a lab or the field. While carrying out such experiments, zoologists often must collect biological data about the animals being studied -- this can also include collecting specimens.

Other zoologists will focus on studying animal behavior. In this case, they are more likely to spend their time observing and analyzing animal interactions. This interaction can take place between different species, around mating periods, during migrations, or concerning disease and wellness.

Yet other zoologists specialize in the study of how human activity impacts wild animals, including endangered species. Those who focus primarily on the endangered species may also work on developing breeding programs to reestablish dwindling populations.

And zoologists who work as professors spend much of their time teaching university-level courses. However, professors also must write research papers and articles, attend conferences, and give presentations.

Zoologist vs. zookeeper: What's the difference?

Some people confuse the process of how to become a zoologist with the process of how to become a zookeeper. It's an easy mistake to make. After all, many people aren't clear on the differences between a zoologist and a zookeeper.

Although some zoologists do work in zoos, the work they perform is substantially different from the work zookeepers do.

Unlike zoologists, zookeepers can enter the profession with a high school diploma or a GED. In fact, much of a zookeeper's work can be learned through on-the-job training.

Most zookeepers spend their days caring for animals at a zoo. The primary tasks of a zookeeper's job include feeding the animals and keeping their habitats clean. However, zookeepers may also assist veterinarians in administering medication or vaccinations.

Another important component of many zookeepers' roles is educating visitors about the animals they care for. Some experienced zookeepers may even give presentations at schools or community centers.

Working as a zookeeper is a very physical job. It can involve transporting heavy bags of animal feed and vigorous cleaning.

In a sense, zookeepers are technicians, whereas zoologists are scientists. Zookeepers must be observant and look after the animals they are responsible for, but they do not conduct research or analyze data as zoologists do.

Zoologist Career Outlook

Zebra and a Giraffe on wild life

​Image Source: Pixabay

If zoology sounds right for you, there's still one thing to consider before focusing on how to become a zoologist. What is the career outlook for zoologists like? How do average salaries for zoologists compare to other biology-based careers? And is the field growing?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the median wage for zoologists in May 2018 was $63,420. Keep in mind, however, that a median salary is not the same as an average salary. A median salary is the amount that half of all workers earn more than and half earned less than.

According to the BLS, the lowest-paid 10 percent of zoologists earned under $40,290 per year. On the other hand, the highest-earning 10 percent made $102,830. To reach that upper level, however, you will almost certainly need a Ph.D.

In general, the highest paying zoologist jobs are to be found with the federal government. University positions fall somewhere in the middle, and jobs with local or state governments are typically among the lowest-paying positions.

Most zoologists work full time. However, due to the nature of the work, zoologists often have irregular shifts or long hours.

As for the projected growth of the field, the BLS pegs it at approximately five percent in the period from 2018 to 2028. This growth rate is average. This means that while zoology is not a rapidly growing field, the demand should increase sufficiently to accommodate the supply of zoologists entering the field.

One promising area of specialization for future zoologists will be human and animal interactions. This is because the human population is rapidly expanding and steadily encroaching on the natural habitats of wildlife around the globe.

Becoming a Zoologist: Everything You Need to Know

woman looking at a sea cow

​Image Source: Pixabay

If you're ready to start the process of how to become a zoologist, one of the best things you can do is to gain a general understanding of zoology.

Reading up about zoology is a great way to gauge your interest. If you find your eyes glazing over as you read, zoology might not be for you. After all, the journey toward becoming a zoologist requires extensive academic study.

Consider starting with a general-interest book on zoology. We love this one, which provides a tantalizing glimpse into the secret world of animals.

However, if you're struggling to find time to sit down and read -- it can be hard when you work full time or have other responsibilities -- an audiobook like this one makes an excellent alternative.

If you enjoy discovering the basics of zoology, your next step should be to begin university-level studies.

Earn a bachelor's degree

The first major step in how to become a zoologist is enrolling in a degree program.

Ideally, you will begin by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in zoology. However, you should pay close attention to the type of bachelor degree you plan to register for, choosing between a Bachelor of Science, or B.S., and a Bachelor of Arts, or B.A.

In general, a B.A. degree will allow you to take more humanities courses. The B.A. route is often a good choice for those who want to focus on environmental policy and regulations.

However, if your goal is to conduct experimental research or to pursue an advanced degree, a B.S. might be a better option for you.

It's always a smart idea to reach out to your professors -- or even to your potential professors -- if you're not yet enrolled in a program. They will usually be happy to meet with you to discuss your specific career goals and to offer individualized advice.

If your university does not offer a zoology major, consider earning a degree in biology or another life science. Be sure to take courses in chemistry, physics, math, genetics, and ecology, if possible.

Get your first job

After earning your bachelor's degree, the next step in how to become a zoologist is typically to start applying for jobs in the field.

Because a bachelor's degree allows you to get an entry-level position as a zoologist, you will be ready for some hands-on experience in the field.

You can start by scanning job boards. Entry-level jobs are often available at zoos or with conservation organizations. Don't forget to check for federal jobs, too!

Even if you plan to pursue an advanced degree eventually, you might find that spending a few years in an entry-level zoologist position pays dividends later on.

First of all, graduate school can be costly and time-consuming. After investing in a master's degree, you wouldn't want to discover that working at a zoologist isn't your passion. So, it makes sense to test out the waters first.

In addition, having some work experience on your resumé can strengthen your application to graduate schools. And who knows -- it might even help you land a scholarship or fellowship to fund your studies!

Pursue an advanced degree

For some people, a crucial step in the process of how to become a zoologist involves pursuing an advanced degree.

This step is optional. It is certainly possible to start your career in an entry-level position and move up the hierarchy as you gain on-the-job experience. In fact, some employers even provide continuing education opportunities for their employees.

However, if you want to develop some serious research chops, or if you dream of working in academia as a professor, there's no getting around the need for an advanced degree.

If an advanced degree is right for you, you'll need to decide between a master's degree and a Ph.D. Most master's degrees require two years to complete, and they will typically culminate with a comprehensive exam or thesis paper.

The Ph.D., on the other hand, can take as many as five years to complete and requires an extensive dissertation. However, a Ph.D. is necessary for most faculty positions at universities.

Move up the career ladder

With your advanced degree in hand, the next step in how to become a zoologist is definitely a rewarding one. Move up the career ladder! After all, you've earned it.

Advanced degree programs are typically research-based, so you should be in an excellent position to apply for higher-paying jobs that offer plentiful research opportunities.

Another considerable advantage of earning an advanced degree is that you will have forged bonds with experts in the field -- your professors! So, don't hesitate to leverage their expertise and connections in your job search.

Tips for Strengthening Your University Applications

Having read through the steps in the process of how to become a zoologist, you're now well on your way to achieving your dream. However, getting started is always the hardest part.

So, how can you ease your first steps toward becoming a zoologist? You'll probably want to start by focusing on putting together a strong university application.

The stronger your application, the better your chances not only of getting accepted into a prestigious program but also of receiving a scholarship or other merit-based aid.

Most liberal arts schools will look at your application holistically. This means that instead of focusing only on your test scores or grades, the admissions committee will also consider your extracurricular activities, among other factors.

Therefore, you can strengthen your application by getting involved in volunteer work that allows you to engage with animals or the sciences. For example, you could volunteer at your local animal shelter, or you could help chaperone school trips to wildlife refuges.

However, no matter how engaged you are in extracurricular activities, you won't want to neglect your grades and test scores. If possible, take advanced science courses at your high school and do what it takes to ace them.

Tips for Strengthening Your Resume

Crop hand writing letters

​Image Source: Pixabay

If you want to make yourself competitive on the job market, consider ways to strengthen your resume while working toward your degree.

In addition to maintaining a high grade point average, you should work toward gaining some on-the-ground experience.

Volunteering is a great way to accomplish this, but also keep your eyes open for research opportunities offered through your university. By combining study with hands-on experience, your resume will shine.

How to Become a Zoologist: Now You Know

No one said it would be easy, but with planning and determination, the process of how to become a zoologist is achievable.

If you love learning about the animal kingdom and want a job that will help make a positive change in the world, becoming a zoologist might be right for you.

How did you get interested in zoology? Do you have a favorite introductory zoology book? If so, we'd love to know about it, so comment below!

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

10 Questions To Study For A Mitosis Quiz In AP Biology

If you need to prep for a mitosis quiz in AP Biology, you are going to need to understand the difference between mitosis and meiosis thoroughly.

Many students fail to be able to identify the difference between the two biological processes accurately. So, you don't want to get disappointing results on your mitosis quiz; there are a few key points you are going to want to study.

Remember to acquaint yourself with the following before you think you are prepared enough for a mitosis quiz.

  • There are six different stages of mitosis.
  • You want to be able to visualize and analyze diagrams displaying the stages of mitosis confidently.
  • It is good to be aware of any irregularities during mitosis and resulting genetic consequences

Give yourself ample time to take comprehensive notes when studying your AP Biology material. Don't try to memorize everything, but seek to understand and make connections between the information. It may also be helpful to draw out the processes of mitosis, labeling each stage with a description that you can understand easily.

Ask yourself questions about what step comes next, and predict if something were to go wrong in the process what would be the result?

Taking steps to interact with your material will help you make more sense of things. You don't want to only memorize and regurgitate the material without having a clear visual understanding of the what and why of the process.

What Is Mitosis?

Mitosis is the name given for the process of a cell's duplication. When there is one cell with a single set of chromosomes, it goes through a step-by-step process where you end up with two cells that have identical sets of chromosomes.

When there are breakdowns or problems with the mitosis process, genetic diseases or anomalies are created.

Check Out These 10 QuestionTo Study For A Mitosis Quiz

girl studying

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay​​​

Out of all the information covering mitosis and meiosis, you may want to consider the following questions to help prepare you for an upcoming mitosis quiz. Choose to break down the information as you see fit and in a language, you can understand. Again, drawing images to help you better conceptualize the process is helpful, as well as using correct terminology.

Which Structure Is Responsible For Moving Chromosomes During Mitosis?

The centromere is a region of DNA that holds together the two chromatids of a duplicated chromosome. Centromeres are responsible for attaching microtubules and direct the movement of chromosomes in both the process of mitosis and meiosis.

First, the chromosomes move toward the center of a cell during metaphase, and then they proceed to opposite directions during anaphase.

 Why Do Chromosomes Fail To Separate Within Mitosis?

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay 

Nondisjunction is when a pair of homologous chromosomes fail to separate. There are three forms of nondisjunction, and two happen during the process of meiosis I and meiosis II. 

When the sister chromatids fail to separate during the process of mitosis, the number of chromosomes is abnormal, resulting in aneuploidy.

If a single chromosome is lost from a diploid genome, it is called monosomy. If a chromosome is gained, it is called a trisomy.

When chromosomes fail to separate correctly, it can lead to a genetic disorder such as Downs Syndrome or Turner Syndrome. In the most extreme cases, aneuploidy can be lethal. The risk of nondisjunction taking place increases exponentially with the rising age of parent cells.

Typically disjunction is found during the process of meiosis.

At Which Phase Do Chromosomes Become Visible And Of What Do Chromosomes Consist?

Before chromosomes become visible during the prophase stage, the chromosomes are long strands called chromatin. The chromatin is tightly wound up into chromosomes.

Chromosomes are made up of DNA which is coiled tightly around histones. Histones are proteins which support the structure of the thread-like structures. Chromosomes are not visible under a microscope if the cell is not dividing, and it is not visible in the nucleus of the cell.

The short arm of a chromosome is the ‘p arm,' and the long arm is known as the ‘q arm.'

What Is Cytokinesis?

Cytokinesis is the process when cells physically divide. The cytoplasm of a parent cell splits into two daughter cells. This process starts during anaphase and doesn't stop until the telophase. Cytokinesis takes places during both mitosis and meiosis.

When and Why Will Cells Divide, How Many Chromosomes Will They Have, And What Triggers This Process?

Cellular division during mitosis may be triggered because of the need to replace or repair dead or lost cells or to grow in size. As part of the cell cycle, a cell will prepare to divide at interphase and begins its division process during mitosis.

A single cell will divide and reproduce copies of its DNA into two identical cells. The number of chromosomes will be the same as in the parent cell.

What Is The Difference Between A Diploid And A Haploid?

Diploid cells have a set of chromosomes from two different parents, with two homologous copies of each chromosome of their parents. Diploid cells reproduce by mitosis, and somatic cells are examples of diploid cells.

Haploid cells are created because of the meiosis process. Gametes or sex cells are a common type of haploid cells. Haploid cells only have one complete set of chromosomes.

Define Polyploidy And Aneuploidy?

When there is a variation in the number of chromosomes, it is described as being either aneuploidy, monoploidy, or euploidy. Depending on whether one part of a chromosome is lost, an entire set of chromosomes is lost, or one or more than one complete set of chromosomes is gained the term changes.

With chromosomes, conditions can either be double monosomic or double tetrasomic.

What Is An Allele And The Law Of Independent Assortment?

A gene is a single unit of information that is hereditary. Except in the case of some viruses, genes are made up of DNA which transmits traits. An allele is a genetic sequence which is a variant of a gene. When there are differences among copies of a gene, they are called alleles. At the locus of a gene, there are only two alleles present.

Gregor Mendel has been credited with our enlightened understanding about genetics, heredity, and what happens when there are variants in genetic transmission. According to Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment, a pair of alleles will separate independently when gametes are forming. Traits are transmitted to offspring independently.

The Law of Independent Assortment was formed on principles uncovered when Gregor Mendel conducted experiments creating dihybrid crosses between plants which had two different traits. As a result of Mendel's experiments, a ratio developed to reinforce this concept.

What Type Of DNA Damage Occurs When Cytokinesis And Mitosis Fail?

If a cell fails to separate during cytokinesis, it may have multiple nuclei.

During the prometaphase and metaphase stage, if a cell fails, it enters the G1 phase of a cell cycle, or it results in cell death. The checkpoints within the cell cycle help to regulate the process of cell division and will signal to different pathways if there is a failure.

Steps are automatically taken to prevent any damaged DNA from being reproduced or transmitted to a new generation of cells, to protect integrity.

When mitosis fails to carry out is process an abnormal number of chromosomes is created. To prevent continuous cell division, abnormal cells may be removed. A failure in mitosis typically activates cell death and consequent DNA damage.

What Are The Cell Checkpoints And What Are Their Functions?

Depending on if certain conditions are met cellular division may be inhibited, such as in the instance that growth hormones are released. When there is cellular growth, cells have to divide to prevent cell crowding.

If there is a release of specific hormones or a lack thereof, cell checkpoints may not allow the progression of a cell to the next stage in the cell cycle until there are viable conditions.

At the G1 checkpoint, any damage to DNA and relevant external stimuli are evaluated before a cell can move forward to interphase.

The G2 checkpoint is needed to make sure that all chromosomes have been replicated without any damaged DNA. Until this is assured, a cell will not be able to enter mitosis.

The M checkpoint is responsible for making sure every chromosome is attached to the spindle, and will not allow the separation of duplicated chromosomes if there is a problem.

Cell checkpoints are part of the eukaryotic cell cycle.

Additional Helpful Pointers

Before your quiz make sure that you can break down any pertinent information in easy to understand terms. However, be aware of the correct terminology and the sharp differences between mitosis and meiosis to reduce any unwanted confusion. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and give yourself enough time to study the material before attempting to complete a quiz.

Don’t underestimate or disregard the power of drawing out your own diagrams to fully grasp the concept of each stage of mitosis. Visuals can have a stronger influence than reading words alone about the process.

7 Cell Raps To Help Memorize The Functions Of Cells

If you’re studying for a science test, one of the best ways to help remember the material is by setting to music! That’s right; cell raps can help you remember the names of the organelles located in each cell, as well as their functions.

We’ve rounded up our top seven picks for cell raps that we think you’re going to love.

 

via GIPHY

Best Cell Rap for Sixth-Graders: Cells Cells by Crappy Teacher

As YouTuber CrappyTeacher (Emily Crapnell) explains in her cell rap video, she created this video to help her sixth-grade science students learn the different parts of a cell. At over 5.7 million views, it seems that this cell rap has caught on with more than just Crapnell’s students! We can’t blame people for watching it; it’s catching and makes science–dare we say it?–fun!

“Today’s the day,” the rap begins; “let’s talk about the building blocks of life–cells that make us.”

The cell rap chorus covers some of the most vital parts of cellular biology. It explains that cells are made of organelles, and mentions cytoplasm, the nucleus (“controllin’ everything”), the membrane, the vacuole (“we can float around for hours”), and chloroplasts by name.

The next chorus explains that there are two different types of cells–animal and plant cells, while the final three stanzas are devoted to explaining in more details with each part of the cell does. “The cell membrane is the border patrol,” raps CrappyTeacher, and then later, “The mitochondria’s something every cell needs, breaking down the food and releasin’ energy.”

Over second thousand people have taken the time to comment on this cell rap. Many mention how they heard it years ago and still remember it, speaking to the catchy lyrics and the arresting beat. While designed for sixth-graders, the content is sophisticated enough that even college students report finding it helpful!

We also feel like it’s one of the best mixes of catchy lyrics and useful information, managing to find a good balance between repetition and new information. Plus, it provides a great video with very helpful images which will further solidify the information in your mind.

The rap can be viewed here or may be purchased.

Best Karaoke Option: The Cell Song by Glenn Wolkenfeld

The Cell Song, created and sung by Glenn Wolkenfeld, isn’t a cell rap–but it is a fantastic way to use the power of song to help commit the parts of a cell to memory! And with over two million views, we’re not the only people who think so.

The song is a folksy, bluesy tune where the singer asks what happens when he goes into a cell. “Who drives this bus,” sings Wolkenfeld, and then he “found myself talking to the boss, the nucleus.”

Unlike some of the other cell raps available, The Cell Song explains that chromosomes stores genetic information, the ribosomes make proteins, and the lysosome use enzymes to dissolve, and centrioles organize chromosomes into spindles.

Wolkenfeld also uses The Cell Song to explain how rigid cell walls allow plants to grow extremely tall, and the purpose of green in the plant cell. “I went into a plant cell, ‘why’s it so green?’” sings the artist. “‘Cause I make food from sunlight,’” answers a green chloroplast.

The video is filled with helpful drawings and diagrams to further illustrate each concept. Wolkenfeld, as we mentioned already, also offers a karaoke version, which is the same version, but instead of Wolkenfeld singing, the lyrics are on the screen.

The Cell Song, like Cells Cells by CrappyTeacher, has the ability to combine great video content with helpful, relevant information about cells.

You can find The Cell Song here, and the karaoke version here.

Best Song With Video: The Parts of a Cell Song by Jam Campus

The Parts of a Cell Song is a cell rap created by an organization called Jam Campus. It’s one of many Jam Campus creations; in fact, the YouTube channel creates educational videos on everything history to science to mathematics.

With over 54,000 views, The Parts of a Cell Song is catchy and well-loved. What we especially love, in addition to the self-made music, is the high quality illustrated video! Any time you can marry great visual images with catchy lyrics, you increase the likelihood of you remembering the information.

The Parts of a Cell Song gets right down to business, stating in its first line, “here’s what each cell contains, outer layer is the cell membrane.” The lyrics point out where cells get their energy (mitochondria), and what ribosomes do (help with protein synthesis).

We also appreciate this lyric, which helps to sum up the parts of a cell, something most cell raps don’t do:

Cell membrane, mitochondria, lysosomes and the ribosomesCytoplasm, nucleus, E.R. and Golgi body, and the nucleolus

​We especially appreciate how accurate the presented information is here (many cell raps mistakenly identify ribosomes as making proteins; however, they simply help in the assembly of polypeptides, chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein).

Best for Repetitive Learning: The Cell Rap with Mr. Simons’ Fifth Grade Class

Mr. Simons and his fifth grade have teamed up to create another great cell rap, available on YouTube. This cell rap has approximately 468,000 views, and we understand why–out of all the cell raps we’re sharing today, this one is probably the most likely to get stuck in your head!

​Every song has to decide how to balance repetition with new information; as you’ll see later, some of the cell rap songs we’ve rounded up choose to focus on including as much data as possible. This rap, however, from Jake Simons, focuses on repetition.

In fact, we feel it focuses a little too much on repetition, but it’s still a great rap that will help cement many of the things you’re learning about cell biology into your memory.

​This five-minute rap features the cytoplasm, the nucleus, the membrane, the vacuoles, and the mitochondria of the cell. Here’s an example of a lyric:

“Just like us, the cell has energy. The mitochondria takes the food and puts it where it needs to be.”

Here’s another line from the cell rap, this one memorably explaining how the cell membrane works:

“There’s a thing called a membrane that holds it all in place so none of us will ever complain.”

​Is this the cell rap to turn to if you need to memorize complicated material? Probably not; but it is a great option for younger students or people who need just the basic parts of a cell!

​Best Use of Additional Resources: The Cell Song by Keith Smolinski

​The Cell Song was written and recorded by Dr. Keith Smolinski as part of a doctoral study to research how music can help students learn complex science concepts. In addition to The Cell Song, which features the parts of a cell, there are another nine songs sold in an album called Biorhythms: The Music of Life Science.

Songs in Biorhythms cover everything from cellular division, to the digestive tract, to the ecosystem. The song we’re featuring, The Cell Song, isn’t a cell rap, but it is well-performed, catchy, and interesting to listen to!

While the accompanying video doesn’t include images, it does utilize the lyrics on screen. In just two minutes and nineteen seconds, Dr. Smolinski manages to cover everything from the nucleus to the cell membranes.

In The Cell Song, listeners learn that the nucleus contains the genetic code, the mitochondria are the power plants of the cell, and the vacuoles store food and water. We also learn that the ribosomes make proteins, the Golgi bodies pack and ship the proteins, and the endoplasmic reticulum carries them.

Plus, the song teaches that lysosomes are janitors, cytoplasm is gel-like, and cell membranes help regulate what comes in and out of the cell.

​In the notes section of this video, Dr. Smolinski also explains that additional teacher’s resources are available on his website, including a Teacher’s Guide for The Cell Song. All of Dr. Smolinski’s resources are based on the National and State of Connecticut Science Standards, so you can be sure you’re getting accurate and helpful information.

Best Rap Alternative: Organelles Song by ParrMr

​ParrMr, a YouTube creator, has garnered over one hundred thousand subscribers thanks to her (or his!) ability to put science lyrics to popular songs. If you cringe over cells raps or want music you’re already familiar with, you can find videos on everything from Pangaea to the atmosphere to the planets.

ParrMr’s songs are set to hits like Forget You by Cee Lo Green, Toothbrush by D’NCE, and Jealous by Nick Jonas. The one we’re featuring here is Organelles Song, set to Counting Stars by OneRepublic.

The music is easy to remember if you’re already familiar with the song–our one complaint, however, is that the lyrics have very little repetition. This has the upside of packing a ton of information into the four-plus minute song, but if you’re trying to make sure the material sticks, this might be a downside.

​“Look inside a cell,” sings ParrMr, who created this song for his or her sixth-grade students, “and you will see…organelles have jobs, yeah, organelles have…jobs.”

​The next lines focus on how plant cell walls and cell membranes protect the line like a fence, letting the right things in and out. ParrMr covers vacuoles, lysosomes, the nucleus, chromatin, DNA, and ribosomes.

The final stanza explains proteins and their relationships to the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi bodies, and cytoplasm. Mitochondria and chloroplasts are also mentioned.

​Organelles Song by ParrMr has racked up over 700,000 views, and for a good reason.

Runner-up Rap Alternative: Cells Song by ParrMr

Another much-loved option (four hundred thousand views!) by ParrMr, also for a sixth-grade classroom, this is another song about cells set to hit music. This one, called Cells Song, is set to Sail by AWOLNATION.

In it, ParrMr sings about cell membranes, cytoplasm, organelles, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, and Golgi bodies.

“Cells cells cells cells cells,” he sings, before starting another chorus about vacuoles, the nucleus, and lysosomes.

​Here is the final stanza:

Capturing Sun’s energyChloroplasts in plants and treesAnd cell walls giving box-like shape, rigid

If you’re a fan of pop or dance music or are simply looking for a non-rap alternative to cell raps, this is a great option. It’s short on useful information, but what is included is presented appealingly, and will be likely to stick!

Thanks to these seven awesome cell raps, we have a feeling you’re going to ace your next quiz or test. We’d say good luck, but we don’t think you’ll need it!

Featured Image Source: Pixabay.com

How To Study For Biology: 5 Easy Tips

Some of us thrive in certain types of classes, while others may need to work a little harder. Biology is something you may or may not have a passion for, but if you want to do well in school, you’ll need to do well in the class! As you may soon discover (if you haven’t already,) Biology class may feature different concepts from anything else you’ve heard before. That’s why you must understand how to study for it. There’s no magic trick to doing well in biology. You need to just follow these five easy tips to help you ace your next exam.

How To Study For Biology In 5 Easy Ways:

1. Come To Class Prepared And Take Notes

Sometimes taking notes can seem a bit over the top. After all, most of what you’ll be taking notes on will be in the book right? And if it’s not in the book, then you’ll surely be able to find it online. While all of that is true, coming to class to take notes will help you discover how to study for biology. Taking notes will:

person holding books

Image Source: unsplash.com

Keep You Engaged

Let’s face it, there are times when class is boring and your mind may wander. Every once in a while, you’ll have a lecture that completely puts you to sleep. You’d rather put your head down, look on your computer, text with a friend or do anything else than be attentive in class. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

However, if you want to up your grade on your next biology exam, then you’ll want to take notes primarily because the activity itself forces you to keep your mind engaged with the material. You’ll be more likely to remain focused on the task at hand, and that is key to encoding the test material into your long-term memory.

More Likely to Retain Information

No matter how good you are, you simply will not retain everything you hear. In fact, studies show that we actually retain little of what we hear. If your professor provides visual aids with what they talk about it helps, but still there is a limit to what you’ll remember. When you combine taking notes with what you hear in a lecture (and see in visual aids), it’s proven that you’ll remember more of the material. That is because you’re forcing yourself to be physically engaged with the material. If you want to know how to study for biology, then you must be active in your studying — and that starts with taking notes!

​It’s on the Test!

​Above all else, the information your professor takes the time to talk about will be on the test. By taking notes in class, you’ll have your very own blueprint for which highlights to study because they will be on the test. So, head into class ready to take notes. You want to know how to study for biology? This is absolutely one of the best ways to prepare yourself.

2. Learn The Important Terminology And Drawings

​In every class you take, there will be certain lingo you will encounter — probably words you’ve never heard before. These words are specific to biology and key in your studies. You’ll want to learn them. The same can be said of any drawings that are presented by the teacher in class. You’ll get a better handle on how your professor gives tests after the first one.

lady holding a pen

Image Source: ​pixabay.com

But if you haven’t taken your first test yet, then it’s important to study all terms and drawings. Then, after you see what was chosen for the exam, you’ll be able to fine tune how to study for biology ahead of future exams.

​Flash Cards

​One of the best ways to learn new and sometimes technical terminology is with the aid of flash cards. Write the new word on the blank side of the card, then flip the card to its ruled side and write the term’s definition, including any examples that make it clearer.

And, here’s the kicker: each time you add new words to the deck, take a couple minutes to go over the previous cards you’ve written. This way, you won’t feel like you’re cramming 100 words at once, but you’ll just be adding a few new definitions to your vernacular at a time.

Although most textbook softwares allow us to make electronic flash cards now, it is more effective for most students if they write the cards themselves. The process of doing so takes time, we realize, but doing so helps encode the information into our brains. It’s been proven that, the way our brains and memory work, anatomically, it is easier to build our learning and understanding of new words a few at a time during multiple visits to those words and their meanings.

3. Go From General To The Specifics

​When it comes to the best way of how to study for biology, one thing you want to avoid is trying to get too specific at the start. You need to understand the basic concepts before zeroing in on something specific. It would be like trying to do calculus without understanding addition and subtraction. So, start with the basic, early stuff, and then ease your way in. Want to know how to study for biology in this way?

​Look Back at Previous Information

If you’re trying to study something specific and it’s not making any sense, then it means you probably don’t remember the general concepts behind it. That’s okay. Everyone goes through it. It just means you need to go back and brush up on some information so you have some context for the new material. It’s better to cover some information again rather than to force yourself to memorize specifics of which you have no real understanding.

​In learning how to study for biology, you’re not trying to just do well on your exams. Your overall objective should be to learn and retain the material for use in your career later on. Attempting to remember something specific without knowing the general concepts is a bad idea, because you’ll confuse yourself and be much more likely to scramble it up on exams and, worse, in real life. So never feel bad or ashamed that you need to go back and brush up.

4. Take Advantage Of Lab Time

​Undoubtedly, there will be open “lab” times throughout the semester. These are times beyond the class period that are great for those who know how to study for biology. Chances are, the lab time is not even required, but we highly recommend you take advantage of it. Open labs are the best way to process information you’ve learned, retain that information (encode it into your long-term memory) and to understand the concept fully.

woman inside the laboratory

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​Go with Someone

​One of the best ways to take advantage of lab time and to improve how to study for biology is to go with someone else who is interested in doing well in the class, too. By going to lab with a classmate, you will feel accountable to someone else and more than likely you will go if you feel it is an obligation to someone other than yourself. There’s the added benefit of you both being able to keep each other on track.

5. Strategize Using Past Exam Questions

​Every professor is a little different in how they put together their exams. It will take a test or two before you can catch on to how an individual professor prefers to test, how he/she phrases their questions and how specific they will get in quiz material. To do your best on your exam, you’ll want to look at past exams and the questions on those. These exams will offer your insights into how to perform well and is one of the best ways we know how to study for biology.

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Keep Your Old Tests Handy

Look over your previous tests. You'll begin to see your professor's patterns. If you have been taking better notes, then you'll also discover how they focused on certain topics in class and then used this information on tests. Armed with the combination of your old tests to study and your current notes, we bet you'll be able to perform exceptionally well on your next exam. This is particularly true and important if your final exam is cumulative.

​​​No Exams? Study Everything

Now, if you haven't taken an exam yet, then you won't be able to gauge your professor's testing techniques and likely material. If you know someone who has taken the class from the same professor before you, it doesn't hurt to ask them about the tests and what they focused on. You can even ask them if they have an old test. While the test questions will probably change (so it's no use trying to study the order of answers or anything like that,) you can at least see how a professor asks questions, what they focus on and might be critical to study.

BONUS TIP: Buddy Up!

With the five tips we've given you, we are certain you know how to study for biology better. But we will give you one more piece of advice: buddy up!

five people in a group study

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If you make a friend in class with someone who is interested as much as you are in making a good grade, you'll undoubtedly do better. You'll have a backup for note taking if you have to miss class due to illness, you'll have someone who can quiz you with flash cards, you'll have someone who can refresh your memory (and vice versa) over general concepts so you can better understand specifics, you'll have a buddy that encourages you to attend labs and you will have someone to help you analyze previous tests.

​Go Get That A!

​If you're looking to improve your performance on your next bio exam, you'll need to study. If you put forth the effort in studying the correct way, then you'll do just fine. And, the best part is, these tools we've given you will help you do well in all your other classes, too!

Your Guide To Your First Earthworm Dissection

Earthworms play essential roles in many ecosystems. They help introduce oxygen to the soil and mix it up. As they tunnel through the ground, they enrich the soil and push it toward the surface where it’s easier for plants to get to the nutrients. You can see the organs that help these worms do their jobs by dissecting an earthworm.

Safety First

Safety is critical in all aspects of our lives. It may seem trivial in a controlled environment like a school biology lab, but it’s not, and all safety rules should be followed. They are in place to protect you and your classmates, so don’t skip any regulations just because you think it will be ok or those rules don’t seem to apply to your circumstances. The basic common-sense rules are:

  • Wear safety gear when necessary like goggles, gloves, and aprons.
  • Most preserved specimens contain formaldehyde, so wash them first.
  • Do not play with lab equipment or instruments such as scalpels and scissors.
  • Do not eat any parts of your specimen. Yes, there is an apparent reason for this rule.
laboratory

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Your lab should have the rules and safety measures available plus your instructor will go over them with you. Don’t assume the only rules are the ones we list here. The type of lab and type of specimen determine the rules. Ask for a copy of the rules if you don’t see one posted in the lab. Your teacher should be close by most of the time to help you guide you as well.

Always wear safety goggles and gloves. If you have to carry a sharp instrument, hold it with the pointed end pointing down and away from your body. Don’t rush or run while holding a scalpel or scissors. Never carry a knife or scissors by any part other than the handle. Scalpels are razor sharp, and it only takes a split second for them to cut you open.

Keep your station clean and tend to any spills immediately unless they pose a breathing hazard. Dispose of any blades, gloves, aprons, and specimens according to the established rules in your lab. Your teacher will probably explain all the rules to you, but don’t wait to ask if you aren’t sure what to do. Teachers are there to help educate you and keep you safe.

Earthworm Dissection Guide

Earthworms are great for helping you understand simple organisms and basic anatomy. They’ll help you get a grasp on lab safety before you progress to larger specimens like pigs or frogs. As a bonus, they’re small and soft, so handling them is much more comfortable as well.  

The first step is to examine the exterior of the earthworm. Earthworms are segmented works, so they look like a long stack of small rings. They don’t have a head or any limbs, but they do have a fascinating exterior anatomy to study. The anterior end of the earthworm is a little fatter than the posterior. When you locate the anterior end of the work, pin it to the dissecting pan or tray.

earthworm in laboratory

image via Flickr

Earthworms are annelids which means their bodies are composed of multiple ring-like sections or segments. This part may not be on your teacher’s list, but it’s always interesting to count the segments while you study the exterior anatomy of the earthworm. While you count, notice the small setae on the ventral surface. These little bristles help the worms move through the dirt with ease.

Each segment along the worm’s exterior has small pores. These pores excrete the sticky film you find when you run your finger along a live worm. You may need a magnifying glass or small microscope to see them. It depends on the size of your earthworm specimen and your eyesight as well.

From the anterior end of the worm, count your way down to segment fourteen. Typically, this is where the oviducts are located. The oviducts release the eggs when the worm reproduces. The exciting part is the next segment after the oviducts; it contains the sperm ducts. Earthworms have both male and female reproductive organs.

Further down the worm at segment 31 is the clitellum. It secretes a sticky mucus that binds two earthworms together while the mate. It develops a cocoon to hold the eggs and sperm after mating is finished. Earthworms are simple worms, but fantastic at the same time. Their exterior anatomy is fascinating to study.

person holding earthwork in hand with soil

image via Flickr

Earthworms are hermaphroditic which means they have both female and male reproductive organs. Eggs come from the ovaries inside segment fourteen, sometimes thirteen. It can be hard to count the segments on small worms. Worms have testes which can form in segments near the oviducts. Study these segments and see if you can find the reproductive organs on your specimen.

When worms mate, they get stuck together briefly to help keep the reproductive organs aligned. Sperm from both worms travels into the other worms seminal receptacle. The clitellum creates the cocoon which moves along the outside of the worm to collect the semen and the eggs. The eggs are fertilized outside the worm in the cocoon.

By now, you should have a good understanding of the exterior anatomy of your earthworm specimen. Remove the pin from the anterior end of the earthworm and place it on its ventral side, then put the pin back in the anterior end of the worm. The ventral side of the worm is a little flatter than the dorsal side, and it may be a lighter color.

Carefully and slowly make a shallow incision using your scalpel from the anterior end of the work to the clitellum. Never cut toward your body or fingers. Be extra careful and keep the incision shallow, so you don’t cut into the worm’s digestive system and internal organs. Use your forceps to spread the worm open and pin the sides of its body to your dissection pan or tray.

close up photo of earthworm dissection

image via Flickr

The inside of the worm should be exposed now. You may want to lightly sprinkle water over the worm to keep it from drying out while you study the inside of it. The interior part of the walls is called the septa. See if you can tell the difference. If possible, ask your teacher to point them out and help you see the different layers.

Now, the internal digestive organs should be exposed and available for study. Starting with the mount on the anterior end of the worm, locate the organs. The first organ you see is the pharynx. The worm’s esophagus protrudes from the pharynx. About halfway down your incision are the crop and gizzard. Skip the other organs for now and find those two.

The crop is essentially a stomach. It stores food until the food is moved to the gizzard which grinds it up. The food leaves the gizzard and goes into the intestine, much like it does in humans, and travels to the anus. Along the way, the worm's intestines absorb nutrients from the food the gizzard crushed and ground up. Earthworms don't eat dirt. The consume organic materials found in the soil.

Make your way back up to the crop. If you look above the crop on the anterior side, you’ll find five pairs of aortic arches. This is the worm’s version of a heart. The hearts are located around the esophagus, and they connect to the dorsal blood vessel. That's the worm's version of an artery. Most earthworms can take direct damage to half their aortic arches and live.

Move your attention back to the pharynx at the anterior end of the worm. Locate the cerebral ganglia beneath the pharynx on the dorsal side. You may need to use your forceps to move some organs around to get a good look at it. The ventral nerve starts at the cerebral ganglia and runs the length of the worm. It may be hard to see if it is too small.

They are simple creatures speaking purely on their anatomy, but how their bodies and mating works are truly amazing. If you have time, go back over this tutorial again and study the worm longer. When you finish exploring, make sure you clean your workstation and dispose of your specimen correctly. Dispose of your lab gear according to the lab rules. Wash your hand thoroughly with soap and water.

Some Final Notes

Earthworms are vital to the health of our soil. The improve drainage, help stabilize the land, and add nutrients to the ground. Worms feed on organic materials they find in the dirt. Their bodies use the nutrients they need and deposit what's left back into the soil as waste. Fortunately for plants, that waste is usually nitrogen-rich along with other nutrients plants need to grow.

Their worm tunnels help loosen the soil which aids plants in root development. We could go on and on about the benefits of earthworms. If you follow our guide to dissecting earthworms and read our interesting facts along the way, we’re sure you’ll be able to dissect an earthworm specimen safely. You may even appreciate these simple creatures a little more when you are done.

Questions To Study For A Brain Anatomy Quiz In AP Biology

Questions To Study For A Brain Anatomy Quiz In AP Biology

human brain

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Taking AP Biology? Have a brain anatomy quiz coming soon? We’ve got 17 questions to help you study for it, plus some clever tricks and tips for studying smarter, not harder!

Parts Of The Brain

One of the first things you should have to ace a brain anatomy quiz is a thorough grasp of the parts of the brain and each part’s function. Here are some of the questions you might expect:

1. Where Is The Cerebellum Located And What Does It Do?

The cerebellum is the part of the brain situated at the back of the head. It receives sensory information and regulates your motor movements. The cerebellum also controls balance and coordination, helping you to enjoy smooth movements.  

2. Which Part Of The Brain Processes Visual Information?

The occipital lobe lies underneath the occipital bone. It is part of the forebrain (you have two, technically; one at the back of each cortex) and is responsible for processing visual information. Here’s a helpful memory device: the “o” in occipital can remind you of the “o” in optometrist or ophthalmologist.

3. If A Person’s Frontal Lobe Is Injured, What Functions Might He Or She Lose?

The frontal lobe can be found in the front of the brain, in each cerebral hemisphere. A deep groove called the central sulcus separates it from the parietal lobe, and another groove called the lateral sulcus separates it from the temporal lobe. A part of the frontal lobe known as the precentral gyrus contains the primary motor cortex, which controls specific body parts’ voluntary movements.

 

The frontal lobe is responsible for reasoning, higher order thinking, and creativity, so if somebody’s frontal lobe is damaged, he or she could have difficulty making decisions and reasoning.

4. What Are The Gyrus And Sulcus And How Do They Help The Brain?

Gyrus are the ridges on the brain and sulcus are the grooves (also seen as furrows or depressions). Together, their up and down “motion” are responsible for the folded, “spaghetti” appearance of the brain.

 

They are, in fact, an extremely clever way of making the most of very limited space. The brain is limited to the area inside your cranium, but the folding of the brain tissue allows a much greater surface area for cortical tissue, allowing additional cognitive function even in a relatively small space.

 

The human brain begins as a smooth surface, but as the embryo develops, the brain begins to form the deep indentations and ridges we see in the adult brain.

5. What Part Of The Brain Controls The Primitive Parts Of Our Body?

human body with light bulb head

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Pons is the Latin word for bridge, and that’s exactly what the pons appears to do in the brain, as its physically connected to the brainstem. Like any good bridge, the pons contains neural pathways to move signals to the medulla, cerebellum, and thalamus.

 

Many of the nuclei contained inside the pons are responsible for relaying signals, as we’ve already described, but other nuclei play roles in primitive functions that we don’t normally consider being within our control, such as respiration, sleep, bladder control, and others.

6. What Is The Corpus Callosum?

The corpus callosum sits underneath the cerebral cortex. It’s about 10cm long and is a thick, tough bundle of fibers that connects the cerebral hemispheres (right and left), enabling them to communicate with each other.

 

It has over 200 million axonal projections, making it the largest white matter structure.

7. Which Part Of The Brain Is The Newest From An Evolutionary Perspective?

The cerebrum is the part of the brain that is outermost. In it, the brain can store memories, call upon senses, and establish self-awareness. High order functioning can also take place here and its known for being larger in musicians and left-handed individuals. It is also considered to be the most recent brain development.

8. How Many Lobes Is The Brain Comprised Of, And What Are Their Names And Functions? 

Inside the brain is found the occipital lobe (see question #2), the frontal lobe (see question #3), the parietal lobe, and the temporal lobe. The parietal lobe sits behind the frontal lobe and above the temporal lobe. It is where the body becomes self-aware and plays an important role in language processing.

 

The temporal lobe plays a role in the processing of sensory input, helping the brain to translate these inputs into meaning. If, for example, you smell apple pie and think of your grandmother, you have your temporal lobe to thank!

9. Which Part Of Your Brain Acts Like A Supercomputer?

human brain as supercomputer

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The thalamus is the small organ at the very center of your brain that acts as a supercomputer or switchboard, relaying signals throughout the brain. It is one of the most important parts of the brain and regulates motor signals, sleep, and consciousness.

 

Closely related to the thalamus is the hypothalamus, which sits just underneath the thalamus and regulates the pituitary gland and homeostasis.

10. Which Part Of The Brain Helps You Sneeze? 

The medulla oblongata (medulla is Latin for “middle”), and the medulla oblongata is located on the brainstem close to the cerebellum. It is responsible for involuntary or autonomic processes, which include vomiting and sneezing. It also helps with breathing, cardiac functions such as heart rate, and blood pressure.

 The Central Nervous System

light bulb in a wooden surface

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The central nervous system is another important subject likely to show up on a brain anatomy quiz. The questions below will help you better prepare.

11. What Is The Central Nervous System (CNS) Comprised Of? 

The brain and the spinal cord make up the CNS, which is protected by the skull and the spine’s vertebral canal. It is the command center of the entire body, regulating all activity and processing all sensory inputs.

 12. What Role Does The Midbrain Play In The CNS? 

smiling woman

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The midbrain controls visual reflexes (including automatic eye movements, such as blinking and focusing). It also contains nuclei that link parts of the body’s motor system, including both cerebral hemispheres.

13. What Is A Neurotransmitter? 

A neurotransmitter is a chemical that a nerve fiber releases when a nerve impulse arrives. It diffuses across the junction or synapse so that the impulse may pass to the next nerve fiber, muscle fiber, or other structure. Both neurotransmitters and inhibitory neurotransmitters are found in the brain.