Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Bio 103, Semesters end, but life goes on

Paul Grobstein's picture

Glad you've been here, to share explorations of life. If you're registered in Biology 103, remember to log in before posting here. Others are welcome to contribute without logging in. Such comments though will be checked to avoid spam postings and so be delayed in appearing.

In any case, remember that this isn't a place for polished writing or final words. Its a place for thoughts in progress: questions, ideas you had in class (or afterwords), things you've heard or read or seen that you think others might find interesting. Think of it as a public conversation, a place to put things from your own mind that others might find useful and to find things from others (in our class and elsewhere) that you might find useful. And a place we can always go back to to see what we were thinking before and how our conversations have affected that. Looking forward to seeing where we go, and hoping you are too.

You're free as always to write about anything that came into your mind this week. But maybe some reflecting on where we've started and what we've achieved? Have a look at your thoughts about what you wanted to know at the beginning of the semester (in the forum at the end of our course home page), and see what questions did/did not get answered, what new stories (and questions) emerged?

Thanks to all for contributions to my thinking about life (Diversity: cultural and biological among other things).

LuisanaT's picture

Last post of the semester

I'm glad I decided to take this course; it has definitely made my transition from high school to college much more of a distinct experience. It has been fun not learning but discussing science. This profound difference is what allows science to exist because the questioning of observations evokes interest and therefore research. I still have questions that have remained unanswered, thanks.


PS2007's picture


I really enjoyed this class. Not only did I learn a lot about science but I learned a new way of thinking in general. I thought science classes had to be filled with memorization and really hard tests, and that made me wary of them. This class made science fun and made biology seem a lot less intimidating. Even the labs were fun and interesting.

When I take more science classes in the future, I know I will be able to use the principles I learned in this class to help me through them. I really liked how we were able to investigate topics we were interested in on our own-- because of this I have started reading science aritcles regularly, and I even bought a couple science books to read for fun.

Thanks Professor Grobstein. I hope everyone has a good break!

Kendra's picture

This was the best science

This was the best science class I've ever taken, and I've been taking science since middle school! I loved the way in which we thought about science unconventionally as a bunch of stories rather than the truth. I feel like in conventional science classes we are taught that the science we learned is the truth, in this class we got a chance to question and challenge it. I also truly enjoyed writing web papers on topics I am interested in and also the interesting class discussions. The labs were also very engaging and fun!This class has changed my outlook on science as a whole.

Thanks Prof. Grobstein!

kharmon's picture

Honestly, this was the most

Honestly, this was the most fulfilling class I think I've ever taken. As a freshman, you can come in and find yourself bogged down the same way you were in high school, being taught things one way and with one objective. But in this class, I never felt bogged down, and we definitely discovered more than one way to look at everything we approached. I most enjoyed the freedom of topics on the webpapers, because you always learn best when it's something you're interested in and actually WANT to learn about. I also loved being able to just let my imagination go and realizing that science is not an authority, its just a good collection of sensible stories. I'm not necessarily an inquisitive person, especially when it comes to the world around me. HOWEVER, after this class I find myself looking at something and going, "well why is that so?" And when someone gives me the textbook explanation, I say, "well that's one story".
ekoike's picture

Final Thoughts

I'm really sad to see this semester/class come to an end... it was one of the most enlightening science class experiences of my life and it has taught me to question everything and to never take anything by face value.

We always managed to bring up interesting discussion about the role of life, what life means and the whole "improbable assembly" concept in all of our class discussions and I really enjoyed that. Connecting the whole concept of what life is into each and every minute aspect of Biology is what set this class apart from all others that I had taken before.

My favorite part about this class was that you had the freedom to come up with questions and approach the class with any question without being afraid or intimidated about it. It was fully open to discussion and we always managed to make any topic interesting. :D I also enjoyed the labs and how well they were connected with one another. You always took away something from the class by applying it to your labs.

This class taught me to question everything and be constantly revising and revisiting old concepts. I had so much fun in the class. I'll be sad to be leaving it.

Thanks so much Prof. Grobstein and Prof. Franklin!

andrelle's picture

This science was propably

This science was propably one of the most interesting classes that i have taken in the sense that it made me think about a lot of things.  And i fee like the knowledge that i gained was propably the most uself one because it applied to my life.  The questiins that we explored were very parctical question such as what is life, does racisms exist etc.   My favorite part about the class was our freedom to come up with our own theories and being able to test them, especially in lab.
Shanika's picture

For the first Time in my

For the first Time in my "LIFE", i actually enjoyed bio class and the labs! Science isall stories that many can challenge with new set of observations. In reality we all are scientists. It's fun and entertaining when we look at biology from the point of view "that observations set/creates new stories", because then I enjoy figuring out new things, which makes me feel as if i have accomplished much. The feeling of accomplishing finding the new things is a great feeling because than I know my opinion matters, which i think beomes lost in science as many people prove your theory wrong. There is no right or wrong way or answers in biology OR SCIENCE! I am more than comfortable with this notion. At frist I could not understand how truth did not exist in science, but now I do! Thanks Professor Grobstein! Everything is a story, and the best story wins/survives!
kcough's picture

It seems as though we all

It seems as though we all would have paid more attention in high school had science been presented this way. I agree. Not only did I learn about cells and mitosis, but I also learned that science isn't fact. Those three words say quite a bit. I know there are many people who believe that science, and the scientific process, are striving to establish a universal and definite Truth. I now realize, however, that this is not the case. Science is inquiry, a process of telling good stories and not-so-good stories based on what observations you've collected. Science leaves a lot of room for error. I'm really glad I took the class, because these impressions I've been left with will help me not only later on in my scientific career, but in life as well. Thanks!
Sharhea's picture

Effects of Heart Murmur/Review of the class

This semester I actually got the chance to enjoy science. I got to further investigate so many things I always wanted to know about, such TB infection, heart murmurs, conflicts of interest in medicine etc. I got the chance to explore/approach science with questions without prior knowledge through our many lab experiments and class disscussion. The idea that science is a story and not Truth, was unsettling at first but now I understand why, cause it is forever changing. I initially wanted to know how dangerous it is to have a heart murmur. With the help of the website that professor suggested, I found out that slight heart murmurs are very common and does not show of having any real effects in the future. I think this class was wonderful and honestly would have paid attention more in science class in high school, if they were all taught through stories rather than definite definitions, which appears to be definite Truth.
Jen's picture

The best part of this class

The best part of this class was the unconventional approach to science: the idea that scientific theories are just that, theories. Or really, that everything is a theory. That everything is indeterminate and may change in the future, and that our conceptions of reality are only our summaries of our observations. I very much enjoyed this class.
Ruth Goodlaxson's picture

I think this class has

I think this class has taught me two things that are really important:

1) I should think for myself, because even though I don't know a lot of stuff that is labeled "SCIENCE," I do have the tools to think about what I'm presented with, and

2) Randomness can be kind of beautiful. The idea that things fall apart and result in other things coming together is just elegant. Things don't need a reason to be the way they are; organisms don't evolve for a reason; they just exist as they do based on interactions with the surrounding environment as well as genetic coding. And I can comfortably say that as a religious person, though that may not be here or there.

Bye everyone!! Have a great break!

eharnett's picture

The End?

When I first started the class, I was interesting in genetic makeup, what made us different from one another, and, as I stated in my introduction, if "we could all be compared to a certain standard" (this was in relation to the New York Times article "Can fat be fit?", which I eventually wrote a web paper on).  What we discussed in class this semester was very interesting and further help me to answer my questions.  I enjoyed our discussions and they helped me to understand more about biology.

What will stick with me after this class is the whole idea of "science as a storytelling process".  I feel that really explains what we've been learning in class this semester.  Nothing is "right" or "true", but we can always disprove and find out what is "not true".  Science (in many aspects) will not stay the same, but will be changing for the rest of our lives. 

Catrina Mueller's picture

Final Summary

At the beginning of this class, I stated that I wanted to understand what made us "different". In a sense, I now know. Looking back on the discussion that we had before fall break, I discovered that I no longer believed that humans were so different. Every organism is made up of smaller and smaller things, is improbable, and no creature is "better" than another. I acknoledge Andy's point about our conscience and the fact that no other animal has a brain quite like ours, however. At any rate, the fact that the most simple one celled organisms have not died out proves a very good point for me: Humans are not "perfect" and are not the "final step" in this process of evolution.

I think what this class really taught me was that "facts" are not set in stone and that there is always another way of looking at things. It taught me just how likely that each progressive step up to a being is and just how "improbable" humans are. It taught me that just because we believe something now doesn't mean that it will be true later. Look at what happened to Pluto! Unfortunatly, my childhood pneumonic device "My Very Extrordinary Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" doesn't work anymore, but perhaps she is now serving Nachos instead.

ekim's picture

on bio103.

this science class was quite an experience. it was definitely different from the bio class i took in high school; different, in a good way. it gave me a new perspective on how to look at things.

one lasting impression that will stick with me: science is not the truth, just the "near-truth."

and i feel like, in the end, the story of life is just a chain of randomness and a chain of improbable assemblies: just a huge coincidence.