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Author Topic: Biology at home  (Read 30464 times)
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« on: June 04, 2015, 09:59:35 AM »

I am planning my daughters biology study as this is a topic she is very interested in I need to get this one right and cover everything. It's likely her life path will include biology in some form. She is a scientific animal lover with a fascination for microbiology. She is currently 11 and will be considered high school next year. Her 9 year old sister will be doing the same course simultaneously. We plan to cover animals (facts, habitats and ?) and classification as an ongoing project where she chooses the animals based around a classification that I might have some say in, over a few years. She would do this anyway so I figure I can structure it to make it more meaningful in terms of her education. In this way I believe life science will be covered in full. Are we likely to miss anything doing this?

Now while she does those animal studies I am developing a more complete biology course to cover everything else. Would anyone like to make any suggestions as to what I should cover in this course? Are their any biologists here? Especially in the micro biology department. We have a great microscope and currently she just spends hours looking at pre prepaired specimens through it. I would love to here your ideas and resourse suggestions. We have looked through a number of highschool and university level text books for ideas but want to bounce ideas around to see what others think is most important. What do you remember from your biology courses?


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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2015, 07:20:37 AM »

Some ideas here but up to you to deem age appropriate. Dissections. Anatomy. Evolution. Case studies based on microbiology eg. discovery of penicillin, vaccinations, resistant bacteria. Fun with microscopes -  perform basic sample staining to differentiate between cells. University of Sydney has a microscope department that have annual visits from school kids but this is organised via schools.

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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2015, 07:53:45 AM »

Thankyou! They all sound like great ideas. She has directed a heart before..some how she managed to talk her way into another years science class especially so she could! I hadn't considered adding it to our course though. That's a great idea. I am sure we would have done it randomly at some point but it's always better to plan ahead and have the information (and body parts!) ready.
Love the idea of resistant bacteria! Defiantly adding that one in!


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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2015, 07:38:39 PM »

It sounds like she is well on her way. I caught the biology bug around 10 and it has stayed smile. A few more thoughts. Once she is at the Uni and postgrad level, the topics become more specialized (and some are optional) eg. computational biology, genetics, genomics, cell signalling, proteomics, biochemistry, all which can be adapted to microbiology. You can introduce some concepts early but maybe only to broaden horizons/maintain interest. Or they can be integrated as diagram showing how a cell works - insulin signalling comes to mind (comparing normal and diabetic states). If she eventually chooses biology as a career, it will be very useful to have a strong mathematical background (not essential but useful). Eg. Statistics is very important, and mathematical/physical modelling can be used to predict outcomes. I think that you are doing the right thing in following her interests in animals and microbiology (this is a very specialized topic already). You'll see that her thirst for knowledge will be insatiable.

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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 02:05:49 AM »

Fabulous! Thankyou so much for your insight. I love your ideas. I think I need a science nerd friend.  smile  Actually I probably just need a science magazine publication in the house for ideas. Any suggestions?
She is already capable of learning at a uni level. She had no trouble learning from Holt Biology uni texts (you know that really thick heavy book that cost as much as a small car!  huh ) but although she is capable I still want her to have some fun. So we will have the uni texts but also use some simpler ones and a lot of living books on nature. This should ensure her interest continues and isn't drowned in facts. I want her to explore ideas and breakthroughs and follow rabbit trails of information. Learn about the people of science (so far she isn't so keen on this particular idea) and how they made their discoveries. I can weave interesting stories into her lab work to pike her interest I think. We have plenty of time so I want to cover the basics solidly while allowing her time to explore her ideas. The basics is where her siblings are at so that helps me too.
Yes math is a priority. She is well ahead there and planning to advance in an accelerated mannor. I am guessing her math skills will outstrip mine in about 2-3 years. I am considering doing the courses along with her to keep up and challenge my lazy brain.


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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2015, 08:10:47 PM »

New Scientist is a really great magazine, and usually available at libraries. Maybe a twist to learning about scientists is to read popular science writers or mine their books for stories. They make discoveries very accessible and entertaining. Eg. Jared Diamond, Pinkett, Gould, etc. Oliver Sacks packs in a number of short stories in a volume. Guns, Germs and Steel is a synthesis on human development by Jared Diamond and he puts into perspective the role of microbes. Here is a resource on virtual microscopes:
If you click on Confocal Microscopy, there are tutorials on light microscopy and there is a virtual microscope that interactively teaches how the different microscope parts work. She might also like the virtual scanning electron microscope which has much greater magnifying powers. If you need more specific information or help, please feel free to message me.   smile

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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2015, 09:30:26 PM »

 thumbs up you are fabulous clap  clapthumbs up  hi 5s
 clap  clap  clap  clap absolutley fabulous!


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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2015, 01:26:57 AM »

One of my professors once explained to me that one more person who is sensitive to animal wellbeing is a person who can contribute to the conservation of this planet. I think that conservation issues can best be absorbed gradually as it is too much burden on a child. Simply supporting her love of nature and animals is already a lot. A pair of binoculars and an Audubon manual can go a long way. Salt marshes are full of migratory birds. The bush and the backyard are also great.

My small way of paying it forward and I hope it helps. How were you able to find/buy a good microscope? I'd like to get one for home but store ones are hopeless.

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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2015, 11:20:38 AM »

Way too many hours researching what to buy and a hefty shipping free from America to Australia smile There is no way I could have got anything even remotely good enough from a store here. Ebay or Amazon were the only options. In store purchases here wouldn't show as much as my macro lense on my camera! As a "I have no idea mum" buying a microscope it will take me another year to figure out if I got a good price or overspent. But we are very happy with the quality of the viewing and the microscope is very sturdy. It had excellent reviews on Amazon and I bought the USB microscope attachment so we can hook it up to the computer and view as a group.

 So far she has spent HOURS looking at preprepaired slides (also purchased of ebay) an I keep forgetting to order her blank slides so she can make her own specimens. So here is a tip for you get it all at once so you don't have to listen to them nagging for live pond water slides LOL


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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2015, 08:15:47 PM »

I'll start looking for one. The good microscopes are held on tightly - at Uni, the old ones are handed down and passed around labs for teaching so no chance of getting discarded ones. Companies like Nikon, Olympus sell teaching slides but they could be expensive. May be worth a look when she starts asking for more. Do you remember how your daughter became interested in biology? Was she exposed more to nature/biology topics than her siblings? or was it something more innate?

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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2015, 09:41:40 PM »

I hink it was a couple of things combined.
Firstly we read a lot of non fiction picture books when she was around ages 3-6. I also looked for picture books that taught about nature. This idea is  called living books if you want to hunt for some more info. We got all these books from the Libarary. Over time she would spot some big encyropedia type picture books in the book shop full of animal facts and we collected quite a few of those.
Secondly I like animals. We have pets (chickens, leaf insects, dogs fish ATM) we hatched tadpoles had turtles, ginea pigs and many short term pets around for a while. I always encouraged her to touch. We picked up insects, spiders, worms, bugs anything safe. I went out of my way to find interactive zoos and shows with animals in them knowing she would like it.
The key is to open their eyes to it all young. The micro biology is a natural progression from there. Interestingly it was her rather clean freak nature reguarding germs and a black light germ on the hands display at school that got her interested in the microscope to begin with. Once she knew what it could do she asked for one for her birthday.


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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 07:36:54 AM »

Hello. I have few links you can use it for inspiration
My friend work at and she gets inspiration on Pinterest mostly. Even I want to try something, but I don't have microscope.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 07:41:16 AM by dieterr » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2019, 01:07:38 AM »

Biology is a fascinating subject. I remember being so engrossed in Biology in high school. I was sure i would become a marine biologist one day but life had other plans smile

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