Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Yesterday —

I sent to the students in my General Biology class

–three short recorded lectures about genetics;

–two extremely detailed powerpoint presentations covering the same material;

–an associated genetics problem set meant to help them think about genetics correctly so they can do a good job on the real problem set;

–numbers to use to fill out three tables for Lab 10 so they can do this lab individually without actually being in a lab.

Today, I will send them:

–one more recorded video, this one over pedigree analysis

–another detailed powerpoint over that topic

–numbers to use to fill out a table for Lab 11

–the actual 50-point genetic problem set that will be due at the end of next week.

Today I will also:

–record two lectures over evolution and natural selection, to accompany

–complete powerpoints that cover those two chapters

I also need to:

–painfully convert the actual genetics test into the online format; it will probably be easiest just to type each question in by hand to the online test generator.

–write the test over evolution and natural selection, which I will later have to convert the same way.

–develop lab projects to take the place of the labs that would have been done in a normal semester.

So if you wonder why posting has been and will be light for a bit, this is why.

On the plus side, if you are interested in dinosaurs, here is a neat website. I’m going to use for a lab project for sure. I’m thinking of a set of questions like this: How many Neotheropods are listed for each period from the late Triassic to the Late Cretaceous? How many Sauropodans? How many Maniraptorans? Briefly describe each group.

Still working on it.

Also, neat little video here.

There’s another video I’m trying to find; black background, with various types of dinosaurs that appear …. linger for a second or 15 seconds … and disappear as they become extinct. It’s another good way to show that “dinosaurs” is a terrible term for the wildly different animals that are shoehorned into the category. However, I can’t find that one. I’d like to, so if anybody knows the one I mean or can use google-fu to find it quickly, if you’d post a link in the comments, that would be great.

Or, actually, any dinosaur-related reference you especially like.

My goal is to get my students to conclude that birds are NOT dinosaurs, but that birds ARE maniraptorans.

As far as I’m concerned, it would be nice to have fewer people say, Oh, no, birds are dinosaurs! Or worse, Oh, but birds are reptiles! I know taxonomic fads come and go, but please. Statements like that render the term “reptiles” as meaningless as the term “dinosaur” already is. Or wait, even more meaningless than that! There is absolutely no justification for saying that mammals are NOT reptiles, if you insist that birds ARE. The proper way of thinking about this, as far as I’m concerned, is to say reptile … reptile … still a reptile … this is still a reptile … here we have arrived at the reptile-derived group of maniraptorans, and over here the reptile-derived group of mammals.

Well, that was a digression. Anyway, if you have a dinosaur video, or a maniraptoran video for that matter, that you think is especially inviting, point me to it, please.

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3 Comments Yesterday —

  1. Pete Mack

    I am reading a really lovely science history book: Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf. She did a massive amount of research on the life and letters of Alexander Humboldt. At age ~30, he did two epic treks worthy of fantasy, including 2500 miles on muleback across the Andes. Plus he ascended essentially every volcano in Peru. But the real thrust of the book is Humboldt’s place in history: his massive influence on science–notably the foundation of physical geography and ecology–, and on a wide swath of influential people of the late Enlightenment/early Romantic eras.

    It was on the non-fiction best seller list in 2016.

  2. Rachel

    Thanks, Mike, that’s excellent.

    Thanks for the pointer, Pete, sounds like the kind of thing I’d like! I’ll take a look at it at once.

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