Reproduction Topic 6.6

In this section of Topic 6 we need to look at reproduction. For those of you who may think this section is difficult, just remember that you are at the current end of a very long line of ancestors who were very successfully reproductively, so it cant be that difficult! In this section we will look at the male and female reproductive organs, the female menstrual cycle, the role of testosterone in males, In Vitro fertilisation and the ethical issues surrounding it.

A very useful resource, a SlideShare by our favourite Indonesian teacher can be found HERE.

An excellent description of the role of hormones in the menstrual cycle can be found here. This link allows you to see both how the normal menstrual cycle works, and how it can be manipulated for contraceptive purposes in the female contraceptive pill.

TOK issue, should women be allowed to take responsibility for their own fertility? In many societies this is a no-brainer, but this is not the case in all societies. This article from the influential Catholic Planet outlines reasons why the Catholic church is against contraception, though interestingly for approximately 11 years the Catholic Church did authorise the use of the contraceptive pill when it first came out!


Nervous Control

Now this  video I did not Show in class but if you get the chance you may wish to look at it .This video shows a person who has an incurable degenerative nerve disease and has chosen to decide the timing and the manner of their own death. This video raises all manner of emotive questions from a moral and ethical perspective, not least should we look at this kind of thing in our lessons? As this occurred in our host country of Switzerland, and as it leads into a discussion of what can go wrong with our neurons and how this impacts our function then I think yes. However please be advised this video is upsetting, and I would understand if you choose not to watch it.

In this section we aim to cover the following curriculum statements: –

6.5.1State that the nervous system consists of the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nerves, and is composed of cells called neurons that can carry rapid electrical impulses

6.5.2 Draw and label a diagram of the structure of a motor neuron

6.5.3 State that nerve impulses are conducted from receptors to the CNS by sensory neurons, within the CNS by relay neurons, and from the CNS to effectors by motor neurons.

6.5.4 Define resting potential and action potential (depolarization and repolarization).

6.5.5 Explain how a nerve impulse passes along a non-myelinated Neuron.

6.5.6 Explain the principles of synaptic transmission.

A nice diagram of a Neuron can be found Here. Remember you must be able to draw a labelled diagram of a motor neuron. When looking at the diagram think “STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION”. These links are made in this clip. Details of the sodium potassium pump are here

Want to understand synapses? Follow this . There is a very nice video that summarises the Khan academy video

Topic 5.5 Classification is a section of the course with TOK links – why does every organism on the planet have the same scientific name in every country, and how do scientists decide upon that name? How did Linnaeus`system of classification change over time, and what features are used for classification? All of these things will be covered in this topic.

We will use this excellent resource from the Wellcome foundation to show how all organisms are linked together, together with where we will get examples of one plant and one animal showing complete naming.

There is a nice Classification learning resource that we will use parts of to learn key features of certain phyla of plants and animals produced by the nice people at

To help you

Populations and Evolution

So now we have pretty much finished Topic 5.3 on Populations, there is only your design lab left to write. If you have lost the front sheet it can be found by following this link – Design lab growth rate of yeast.

If you require a Little more Information on the Population Topic then you may wish to look here.

We are also going to have a look at Topic 5.4 Evolution. This is a very contentious Topic for many People in many countries. Richard Dawkins is a well respected evolutionary biologist – watch the following TED talk and see if you can see why.

Finally, there is a nice presentation introducing Evolution

So what can I do?

I have had several conversations with students recently about anthropogenic climate change. The DIS1 and 2 students are introduced to the concept when they study the Carbon cycle, the DIS4 students study it as part of the Ecology topic when we looked to answer the question “how do you form an opinion” and it was also covered in DIS4 in World studies. The one question that students always ask is the one in the title of this post.


If you are genuinely interested in investing some of your time to raise awareness of this issue and to effect positive change (remember the precautionary principle means we don’t need to have unequivocal proof before we act) there are many non-governmental organisations which are looking to raise awareness amongst the general public, and are looking to put pressure onto governments. Examples are Greenpeace, WWF, 360.ORG and AVAAZ. AVAAZ are running at the moment a campaign,The Global People`s Climate March, on 21st September details of which can be found here.



Anthropogenic climate change, that`s just a theory right?

There are many examples in Scientific history where there has been scientific debate upon important points. One such area is with the theory of anthropogenic climate change. This beggars the question what is a theory, what is an argument, and how much evidence do we need to move from theory to accepted fact. The precautionary principle becomes important here and we will introduce this idea with a discussion of a rather strange art piece from the 1970`s!

Check out the video below for an introduction

A nice learning resource is given here which covers the main areas of this topic.