Welcome to Cell Zone!

Gearing up for the school year August 16, 2016 17:57

Well, Cell Zone had a great summer.  We thoroughly enjoyed going to ASMCUE for the first time and meeting so many people committed to improving biology education at the undergraduate level.  We also showed our finished Burner Brake, and the teachers thought it was really great.  We have since had our first order of Burner Brake and are looking forward to many more schools adding this safety feature to their labs.

Now is the time when everyone is getting ready to start back up for a new school year.  Don't forget to get your classrooms ready with our posters and order your other materials in time to get them into your school when you need them.  We have a very fast turnaround from order to shipment (usually 1-2 business days), but let us know if you need a rushed shipment.  Good luck with the new school year!

On our way to ASMCUE! July 14, 2016 19:33

Cell Zone is heading to ASMCUE next week.  This is our first time attending this conference and we are looking forward to talking with a great variety of microbiologists.  We will also be showing them our new microbiology poster set, as well as introducing them to Burner Brake, a new lab safety product.

Finishing the school year and getting ready for next year June 11, 2016 22:30

As you wind down your school year, think about what you could do to improve next year.  Consider purchasing a Cell Zone kit to help your students achieve next year.  Email us if you have any questions about our products.

Cell Zone is going to be heading to NABT! September 08, 2015 15:27

NABT is a great conference for anyone who teaches biology of any type.  There are a lot of high school and college/university teachers at the meeting each year.  Some teach introductory biology, but some teach botany, microbiology, cell biology, anatomy & physiology, etc.  Such a diverse group of educators makes for a fun and interesting conference.  If you are curious about going, check out http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=10 .  It will be in Providence, Rhode Island this November.

When right is only sort of right August 27, 2015 23:39

Multiple choice questions (MCs) can be challenging... not just for teachers to write, but to for us to interpret the results.  Since there is only one correct answer, many students can just make an educated guess at the right answer and get it right.  They can get it right without ever really understanding.  That means that when a student gets a high score on an MC test. they may not have really learned the information.  Which is more important?  Student score or student understanding?  Most teachers would say understanding (but not all, and not all students).

This problem has led many to try a different type of test question.  There was a lot of discussion about this at the 2015 SABER meeting.  Some try multiple true/false:  there are still ABCDE options, but each one has to be indicated by the student as true or false.  In this manner, there can be multiple truths in relation to the one question.  Other teachers are trying multiple answer questions:  there are still ABCDE options, but students can select 1, 2, 3, or 4 of them as right (you could also limit it to 3).

When giving students more than one option within a question, the opportunity arises to include "distractor" options.  These distractors could be misconceptions, simply sound plausible, or other options.  I have left out some distractors in my MC tests in the past because I didn't want to "trick" my students.  But if there are multiple correct options, they won't get the entire question wrong by falling for the trick.

When grading tests with multiple options for each question you have the opportunity to examine what percentage of your students still fell for the misconception as well as what percentage got the right answers.  Student scores will be lower, but you can forewarn them that raw scores will not be used.  You will also know what distractors your students are still holding onto so that you can help them learn FROM the exam.

Procedural Display August 18, 2015 12:04

Anyone who teaches knows that there's a difference between understanding and memorization.  There's also a difference between understanding and simple figuring-it-out.  Some students can be successful on test questions without understanding the concepts at all.  They just seem to have the ability to figure out what the right answer is.  Being able to come up with correct answers by picking through the wording (while still not understanding) is called procedural display.

For example, if one were to give the following information to their students:

Cellular respiration is important for the production of ATP.  All cells need ATP to function and survive.  Mitochondria are the sites where cellular respiration occurs.

From this information, students could glean enough information to fake their way through many test questions.  They could answer "What is ATP?" by saying "ATP is an essential item for cells and it is made through cellular respiration in mitochondria."  But they still would not have any idea that ATP is a molecule that can provide energy to a chemical reaction in cells.  They also would not know that mitochondria are organelles, or that glucose was necessary for cellular respiration.  But students could fake their way through many questions to correct answers.

I learned a great deal about procedural display from Andy Anderson's talk at the SABER meeting.  Thanks, Andy!

It is challenging to get students past memorization and procedural display to actual learning and knowledge.  Cell Zone products are designed to help with this transformation.  We plan to continue to develop products to address many more content areas in biology.

SABER is a great conference! August 07, 2015 13:58

I recently returned from the annual SABER conference (the Society for Advancing Biology Education Research).  What a terrific experience!  Everyone who attends truly cares about improving student learning about biology.  The SABER conference has an undergraduate education emphasis, but I learned a lot that can be applied from K-12 through undergraduate biology education.  Some of the hot topics were getting students past memorization and into understanding, how biology graduate students pick their future careers, active learning, modeling processes (mostly mental or written models), metacognition, and sorting information.  I will add more blogs about these ideas soon, but note that many of these hot topics are things that Cell Zone products address.

Great feedback July 01, 2015 08:55

Lori Koss in Cleveland just wrote us the following: 

By the way - we love these puzzles. We are able to utilize them at the Biology level, Honors Biology level, AP Biology level AND Human Anatomy and Physiology. Excellent product!

It's terrific to hear!  Thanks, Lori.

Cell Zone products lead to modeling April 09, 2015 16:07

Modeling is an important, cross-cutting concept in the NGSS.  Our products at Cell Zone provide many ways to incorporate modeling into your classroom.  Whether it is by creating physical models with our Dynamic Cell Models or Molecular Puzzles, or by creating mental models with our Diversity Kits and Mitosis Sequencing Kits, your students will be modeling.  If you are interested in other ways to engage your students in modeling, check out the workshops offered by the AMTA at http://modelinginstruction.org/ .

Outstanding Teacher Award March 15, 2015 16:01

At the NSTA meeting, I spoke with Dr. Nafeesa Owens from the NSF, and she told me about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.  If you know of someone who should be nominated, do so at www.paemst.org by April 1.

A great student review! March 10, 2015 22:47

PLTW (pltw.org) has an amazing biomedical science curriculum that provides an applied approach toward learning. I received the following comment about the student perspective on our Molecular Puzzles from someone attending a PLTW conference:

"Our student panel sang merits to your molecular puzzles! Going from 3-D to 2-D before being exposed to chemical bonding angles is totally awesome. Thank you for taking the time to generate a tool to increase student understanding. Student panels are unpredictable and quite awesome! This was totally unsolicited."

What exciting feedback to receive!

Here's what a teacher just wrote in to tell us: January 29, 2015 14:36

I just wanted to let you know that we used the mitosis sequencing kits this week and the students really seemed to enjoy the activity. I was surprised how much they learned from working through the activity. I am looking forward to using the diversity kit this spring. Thanks for all of your help and for developing an awesome product!

Reflecting on modeling January 22, 2015 22:05

This week I used the Dynamic Cell Models with my college Cell Biology students, and then I went back and reviewed some videos of 5th graders using the same models.  I was reinvigorated by the breadth of lessons these models can address.  With the 5th graders, they had to determine whether to put red, green, or purple pieces of plastic into their models of cells with red spots in them.  They concluded that the red pieces were correct, but then had to figure out the purpose of the red pieces (chromoplasts for color).  With my college students, they were trying to determine whether the methylene blue-stained cheek cells really had a blue membrane; this depended on their knowledge of the chemical makeup of the membrane (primarily lipid) and the types of molecules typically stained by methylene blue (DNA and protein).  The college students concluded that the membrane was most likely unstained, and determined that the edge of the blue cytoplasm was misleading them into thinking the edge (membrane) was blue.

The Dynamic Cell Models are truly versatile.  Now I just have to stick them back into the dishwasher to get them ready for the next group of students!

Starting to think about the spring... December 25, 2014 14:51

We hope you are having a wonderful holiday and break!
Cell Zone is gearing up for a lot of activity this spring. We will be exhibiting at the NSTA meeting in Chicago in March. We are also preparing to take part in a local business accelerator program in the hopes of improving our business for you and for creating new products for your biology classrooms.

We have a new website! December 25, 2014 14:50

We have just changed our website to a new service to make it more user-friendly.  Please let us know if the information you are looking for is available, and if there is any additional information you would like us to post.  We are hoping to make continual improvements to this website.