We’ll be continuing with Chemistry in tomorrow’s class (I’d like to get through most, if not all of what I want to cover in that day). But why is chemistry even important in a biology class?
Like I said in my previous post:
Physics –> Chemistry –> Life
It’s important to understand that chemistry is the basis of biology because it is setting the parameters within which life can function. I don’t go much further than explaining the basics of how and why the periodic table is depicted the way it is, the Bohr model of the atom, the octet rule and the three basic bonds atoms enter into.
The Bohr model is fantastic for students. So, it doesn’t depict the actual atoms as they exist in nature… not much actually does. The closer we look at their behavior, the stranger they are. So the Bohr model is just that: a model.
What it does provide is a very nice way of explaining how protons, electrons and neutrons interact. It also plants a seed of electron energy, that we will revisit when we get to photosynthesis (photons strike pigment molecules and raise an electron to a higher energy state).
Ultimately, we lay just enough groundwork so that once we start talking about DNA and other biomolecules, these structures make some sense and students will know why the backbone of DNA sticks together, but the Hydrogen bonds between the strands are less stable and can be pulled apart and come back together in a reasonable way.
I’ll finish out the chapter on chemistry discussing these four basic biomolecules (nucleic acids, lipids, proteins and carbohydrates) as we drift into studying material that is more recognizably biology.
This week we also start our extra reading, ‘Your Inner Fish’ by Neil Shubin. I’ve been using this book for several semesters now and think it makes a good addition to the class. I’ll talk more about that later when we discuss chapter 1 on Thursday.