If you have been keeping up with my blog, you might remember how I started my previous post with the sentence: “Geometry… an utterly terrifying and confusing concept used to terrorize school children.” At the time, I had thought it was absolutely the most difficult topic I had encountered in my entire academic life. 

That was, until, I was introduced to Biology. It was worse. Much worse.

To be more specific, our PLP (Performance Learning Program) 8 class has been subjected to the terror of learning about cells. Horrifying, I know.

Our driving question for this project was: “How do cells and diseases interact?”

However, before we actually got around to answering that question, we needed to endure the process of completing an infinite number of milestones. In actuality, it was just around the same number of milestones our projects in PLP usually require, but nonetheless a much more daunting task.

 As per usual, we completed a mind-map using MindNode at the beginning of the project… which we later added more information to.

Here is my mind-map:

 We then created “wanted posters” based off of a disease/virus of our choice, from the “Age of Exploration“. I had chosen measles for this milestone.

However, what came next was undoubtedly the most traumatizing part of this project.

We were given the absolute daunting task of completing this “unit test” on Khan Academy regarding cells. It was much more challenging than it sounds, since there were smaller quizzes, videos, and articles we had to go through before having adequate enough knowledge to complete the unit test.

It took me more caffeine than a thirteen year old should ever consume, but I managed to complete this milestone and come out of it alive… albeit sleep deprived and scared of ever venturing into Biology related subjects again. (I’m fairly certain herbal tea does not have caffeine, but still.)

Even though this was the toughest part of the project, it was also in my opinion, the most important part as well. The process of completing this Khan Academy tasks helped supply me with the knowledge necessary to complete the later parts of this project. 

After narrowly surviving the previous bout of torture educational and wonderful circumstance of a milestone of which I am terribly privileged to have experienced, we had to create a storyboard. Essentially, this storyboard was our “plan” for how we were going to complete the final milestone… and also answer our driving question. Here is my storyboard, to the side.

 Finally, you can click here to see my finished comic.

As explained in my comic, the influenza virus interacts with cells by first entering the cell through sialic acid receptors. Viral RNA then enters the nucleus, and replicates more viral proteins. Once influenza virus particles are fully developed, they exit the cell and repeat the process with more cells.

 As our PLP teachers like to reiterate, reflecting is a crucial part of learning. In other words: 

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey.

It’s practically an ancient and well known PLP teaching passed on from master to padawan. This is where the curricular competencies come in.

There were three curricular competencies for this project:

  • Questioning and predicting: Demonstrate a sustained curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest.

From my understanding, this competency means to show an interest in learning about a scientific topic. An example in which I showed this was during milestone 3, the Khan Academy unit test. Even though I found it quite challenging, I believe that the dedication I put into achieving a 100% score displays my curiosity about the topic. I feel that I also showed a sustained scientific curiosity through the research and facts I include in my final comic.

  • Scientific communication: Communicate ideas, findings, and solutions to problems using scientific language, representations, and digital technologies.

This competency entails that correct scientific vocabulary is included in your final comic, along with accurate scientific diagrams. We were also required to include at least 10 scientific terms, all of which I feel I completed proficiently during the making of my comic. I included a couple of diagrams explaining how the influenza virus affects cells, as well as multiple scientific terms regarding the topic.

  • Evaluating: Demonstrate an understanding and appreciate of evidence.

Essentially, this competency requires us to incorporate our chosen disease/virus into our comic, in such a way that is scientifically accurate. From the beginning to end of my comic, I ensured that the protagonist contracted the influenza virus in a scientifically accurate way. As mentioned prior, scientifically accurate diagrams and symptoms of the influenza virus were present in my comic. 

In conclusion, the influenza virus and respiratory system cells interact through a process that involves entering a cell, replicating RNA through the nucleus, then exiting the cell and repeating the cycle. It’s a process of which is important to learn so that we can further understand how to protect our bodies from illness, as well as the reason why we contract illness in the first place.

After all, what’s the sense in learning how to prevent something from happening without first learning why it happens?

I am forever in debt to my friends, Ava and Sabrina, both of whom provided me with assistance whenever I was confused about a certain aspect of this project. Thanks for the help! Be sure to check out their blogs!