Thanks to my friend Michael Windelspecht at Ricochet Science for pointing out that ASAP Science has been posting YouTube videos relating biology to the Olympics. The ASAP Science videos are brief and fun-to-watch, and they present content supported by research. (I referenced one of their videos in an earlier blog post suggesting a “What is biology?” activity.) Here are a couple of my favorites in their Olympics collection — simply click the screenshot for a link to each video:
How Olympians have changed (1924-2014): This video describes how Olympian body types have specialized dramatically (in sport-specific ways) over the past century. This would be a great jumping off point for a discussion on the difference between “sport selection” and natural selection.
Talent vs. training: This video applies the classic “nature vs. nurture” debate to athletic ability. If your class is currently covering genetics and inheritance, you might enjoy starting a class with this video.
The Olympic diet: This video connects food chemistry with the “real world,” explaining why athletes in each sport have different caloric and nutrient needs.
Speaking of food chemistry, I learned today that the military is developing pizza MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) with a 3-year shelf life at room temperature. The news story references moisture and acidity, topics that students sometimes struggle to connect with their own lives. Perhaps this tidbit will help students appreciate the practical value of understanding food chemistry.