Using COVID to deepen lessons in biologyWritten by Andres Lopez
In her first meeting with her A.P. biology students since the holiday break, Upper School Science Department head Jen Newitt presented them with the latest COVID-19 Omicron data, specifically, how the variant is affecting South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. The students also analyzed anecdotal evidence from Dr. Craig Spencer, an emergency medicine physician and the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Before examining the science behind COVID-19 antibody tests, Mrs. Newitt asked her students to summarize what they had previously learned regarding the difference between an antigen and an antibody. “Antigens are evil,” senior Jack Jervis said. “They come into your body and they are the bad guys. The antibodies are created by B cells. They surround and mark antigens to prevent further infection.”
Mrs. Newitt has taught biology at Friends Academy for more than 35 years and is an active member of the National Association of Biology Teachers. She completed training with its leadership academy, which was designed to help participants use the practices of science in helping students learn big ideas and unifying concepts of biology. Last fall, she presented at the organization’s annual professional development conference on how COVID-19 can be used to anchor concepts and science practices in A.P. biology.