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      Strategies: Advanced Work

      The following activities are suggestions for working with students who are ready for advanced work. We hope that the activities spark ideas and conversations among teachers about useful classroom strategies that can supplement existing curriculum.

      What makes a firefly glow?

      Students are expected to explain why specialized cells are useful to organisms(Life Sciences, Benchmark B). For example, students may recognize that information stored in firefly DNA provides the instructions for assembling the enzyme luciferase, which is used by the certain firefly cells to drive a chemical reaction that generates light, as illustrated in the animated tutorial "What makes a firefly glow?"* Below is a sample question that students may answer to demonstrate understanding of this indicator.


      Problem

      Explain what must happen in the cell of a firefly so that it can produce the enzyme luciferase from its corresponding gene.

      Answer

      The gene that specifies the DNA nucleotide sequence of luciferase is transcribed to a mRNA strand by RNA polymerase in the cell's nucleus. The mRNA strand is transported to the cell cytoplasm once transcription is complete. There, a ribosome facilitates the construction of a chain of amino acids based on the mRNA nucleotide sequence. This process is called translation. The chain of amino acids folds into its final three-dimensional form: the luciferase enzyme. The enzyme facilitates the light-generating chemical reaction in the firefly cell, which may be observable to other organisms.

      Extension

      Students may also explain why specialized cells, like those in the tail of a firefly, are useful to plants and animals to demonstrate further understanding of this benchmark.

      *This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.

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