The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life

In August, Gretchen Reynolds published an article in the NYTimes called “The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life.”

The verdict?

  • No exercise: highest risk of early death
  • A bit of exercise: lowered their risk of premature death by 20%
  • 150 min/week of moderate exercise: 31 % less risk of dying prematurely
  • Walking for 450 minutes per week: 39% less likely to die prematurely
  • People who engage in 10 times or more than the recommended exercise: still about 39% less likely to die prematurely



The Biology Of Love

brain in love 1.png

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it dawned on my all of a sudden: have students ever learned about love? Andy Warhol once said “there should be a course in 1st grade on love,” yet I’m pretty sure we only teach sex in school, and not the feelings behind it. So I’m going to try it out this year: teaching the biology of love.

So I came up with this lesson plan:


  • What is love?
  • Are there different kinds of love?
  • What does love have to do with biology?

Activities: I’m going to jigsaw this–have the students divide up into groups of 3-4, and then each group will read their given article, answer a couple of questions about it, and present it to the class in this order:

  • Love and the Brain
    • What areas of the brain become active when someone is in love?
    • What are the “symptoms” of being in love?
    • Which hormones are active when someone is in love?
  • Different Types of Love
    • What are two types of love? Describe each one.
    • Why is romantic love addictive?
    • What are the rewards for long-term passionate love?
    • How do male and female brains respond to love differently?
  • Evidence-Based Dating
    • What are the different experiments scientists have run on dating? What were their results?
  • How to Fall in Love with a Stranger
    • What is the procedure for making 2 strangers fall in love?
    • List 5 of your favorite questions that were asked to the people

Plenary: Class discussion on the biology of love.






Using the Amniotic Sac to Heal Wounds

Check out this cool article one of my students presented for his Friday presentation:

Innovative Wound-Healing Technique Could Save Limbs

amniotic membrane

Basically, they’ve found that the amniotic sac can be used on diabetic sores to heal them instead of them festering and leading to limb loss.

And I was just… so proud when this student was talking–he discussed the female reproductive system without a single blink of an eye in front of all of his peers. Rock on.


I have this one class. I sometimes wonder whether or not they have a pulse. I’ve tried all year long to get them excited, but every time I try, all I get is… cricket cricket.

Today though, we talked about how humans get genetic diversity through meiosis and such, and we were talking about how there’s a tiny tiny chance (about 1 in 200 billion) of making a person exactly identical to you. All of a sudden, I had their attention. Then someone asked: Has it ever been done before? Had two people that were genetically identical but who weren’t identical twins? #extracredit. I guess we’ll see tomorrow.

But until then, I found some super cool resources that I’d love to show them one day when I get to the twin mini-lesson.

I’d love to show them this image: identical twins marrying identical twins and having babies:

twins marrying twins

And have them read this article: A Thing or Two About Twins from National Geographic to give them the twins perspective on being twins.

I would also love to delve into the nature versus nurture issue: do our genes make us who we are or is it the environment?


Fighting an Infection with an Infection: Using Herpes to Treat Cancer

herpes fighting cancer.jpeg

My students recently came across this article in their search for new cancer treatments. I mean, how cool is this?! They’re putting a vector on a herpes virus and then injecting it into the tumor. The virus infects the cancer cells, causing them to burst just from being virally infected, but the vector in the virus also stimulates the immune system to kill the cancer cells, so it’s like a 2-pronged attack. Amazing.

Part of what I also find fascinating about scientific ideas though is the way they’re portrayed and to what audience–my students (in 3 different groups) found 3 different sources for this, all of which have different target audiences.

  1. For everyone: an article in The Guardian
  2. For people seeking science knowledge: an article on Popular Science
  3. For scientists seeking science knowledge: the article from Nature