Teaching resources

coloured block

Browse all Teaching Resources

Hardy Crops To Tackle Food Insecurity
Thursday 6th Jun 2019, 09.00am

Hardy Crops To Tackle Food Insecurity

Our world is getting more and more densely populated. By 2050 there’ll be nearly 10 billion people on our planet and agricultural demand is predicted to rise by 70%. So how will we ensure that every human alive gets the food they need?


Scientists at the University of Oxford are investigating the action of a single protein associated with the photosynthetic process. In these lessons students can design an experiment and carry out data handling (KS3); create a presentation on food security (KS4); consider the ethical and logistical considerations when choosing a model organism (KS4); and read an article adapted from a primary research paper to challenge their comprehension skills (KS5).
KS3 - Hardy Crops and Photosynthetic Experiments
KS4 - Food Security in the Future
KS4 - Model Organisms in Research
KS5 - Transport Across Membranes
This activity offers students the opportunity to plan an investigation and engage in follow up data handling within the context of current research and with the background of significant real-world issues.
In this activity, students will be introduced to and encouraged to consider some of the major threats to food security in the future. Students will then conduct independent/group research to investigate these issues further and produce a short presentation outlining their research and its implications.
This lesson introduces students to the concept of using model organisms in biological research. Students will be introduced to the reasons for their use and will explore the ethical and logistical concerns that scientists consider when selecting a model organism.
This activity develops scientific comprehension by engaging students with a piece of significant current research within an interesting context. Students read an adapted article, pitched at an appropriate level for interpretation by A-level students.
Soluble Semiconductors - A Revolution In Printing in the 21st Century
Thursday 22nd Nov 2018, 09.00am

Soluble Semiconductors- A revolution in Printing for the 21st Century?

The digital age is built upon semiconductors. The crystalline semiconductors, such as silicon or germanium, lie behind modern electronics and computing. They are such essential materials because their conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by the deliberate, controlled introduction...

Researchers studying semiconductors are looking to create new semiconductors that could revolutionize our technology. In these resources, students learn about resistance and apply this knowledge to explore how semiconductors might work (KS3), recognise I-V graphs and calculate resistanc (KS4), consider error in measurements (KS5), and apply what they know to identify and analyse uses and limitations of semiconductors (KS5).
KS3 - What is resistance?
KS4 - Ohm’s law and Ohmic conductors
KS5 - Resistivity and error in measurement
KS5 - What is a Semiconductor?
Learning outcomes: 1 Describe resistance in an electrical circuit. Define an insulator and conductor and predict what a semiconductor is. 3. Understand the uses of semiconductors.
Learning Outcomes: 1. Recognise I-V graphs and the limitations of Ohm’s Law. 2. Apply Ohm’s law to calculate resistance of a component and circuit. 3. Identify and analyse uses and limitations of semiconductors.
Learning Outcomes: 1. Define resistivity and determine the equation of resistivity. 2. Identify systematic and random errors. 3. Assess the uncertainty of measurements.
Learning Outcomes: 1. Recognise I-V graphs and the limitations of Ohm’s Law. 2. Describe the difference between an Ohmic conductor and a semiconductor. 3. Identify and analyse uses and limitations of semiconductors.
Bacteria Safari: Forest on your Fingernail
Wednesday 17th Oct 2018, 09.00am

Bacteria Safari: The Forest on your Fingernail

What on Earth can tiny microorganisms tell us about the animal and plant life around us? Bacteria are tiny organisms that exist everywhere; including on us! Watch this animation...

Researchers at the University of Oxford are study how bacteria live together, interact or compete, and hope to test theories about how much larger species interact. In these resources, inspired by this research, students devise a method to test whether the microorganisms in probiotics make it to the stomach alive (KS3), looks at how antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria develop (KS4), research what drives competitions or cooperation in animals (KS4), and read a research paper to consider evidence around how the microbiome can effect mood (KS5).
KS3 - Beneficial Bacteria
KS4 - Alternative Antibiotics
KS4 - Cooperate or Compete
KS5 - Gut Feeling
Probiotics contain species of these bacteria but do they actually work to increase their population in our intestines? This activity is suitable for extending the more able students. They plan an investigation to collect evidence before evaluating how valid their data would be.
In this activity students use a model to understand how antibiotic resistant bacteria develop and then investigate a possible solution.
Some groups of organisms live in harmony, sharing and helping each other. Whilst others fight for their share of resources – what drives organisms to cooperate or compete?In this lesson students find out why the work of microbiologists at The University of Oxford is helping to answer this question. This lesson is best used after students have studied competition between organisms. The main activity can be carried out for homework.
In this activity students read an extract from a paper written by microbiologists and The University of Oxford to understand how bacteria can influence our thoughts and feelings – are they trying to manipulate their hosts for their own benefit or is this simply a side-effect?
protecting elephants, protecting humans
Monday 8th Oct 2018, 09.00am

Protecting elephants, protecting humans

How do we find ways for people and wildlife to co-exist? Elephants pose a particular problem as their large size means they need to roam over large areas to find food, water and refuge.

The Mali elephants might provide some clues.

Researchers have been studying elephants and humans in Mali to understand they can adapt to each other in mutually beneficial ways. In these resources, students think about how adaptation applies to extinction or co-existence (KS3), explore the differences between biotic and abiotic factors (KS4), model population growth and changes (KS5) and apply their knowledge about ecosystems to describe the case study of elephants in Mali (KS5).
KS3 - Adapt or extinct?
KS4 - Abiotic or biotic?
KS5 - Changing a population
KS5 - Inside the ecosystem
Learning Outcomes: 1. Recap ecosystem knowledge and describe common resources that organisms compete for 2. Determine how organisms can adapt, particularly to their environment 3. Apply adaptation to extinction and co-existence
Learning Outcomes 1. List abiotic and biotic factors and describe their difference 2. Apply biotic factors and competition knowledge to elephants in Mali 3. Describe stable and unstable populations
Learning Outcomes 1. Describe what determines a population size 2. Graph a changing population and calculate the rate of change 3. Compare and contrast intraspecific competition and interspecific competition
Learning Outcomes 1. Define the terms abiotic and biotic, referencing the biosphere 2. Explain what an ecosystem is and apply it to elephants in Mali 3. Describe the population, community and habitat of elephants in Mali
Discovering Life-Changing Dementia Treatments
Monday 3rd Sep 2018, 12.00pm

Discovering life-changing dementia treatments

Your beautiful, complex brain is a network of microscopic cells that connect together to form your thoughts and personality, and control your body. The network is fragile and requires constant upkeep, like a garden. The brain has its own gardeners, specialised cells called microglia. In this...

Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ARUK ODDI) at the University of Oxford are working collaboratively with other centres around the country to study the role of proteins and cells in the brain, and develop drugs to treat AD. In these resources, inspired by their research, students apply what they know to assess a new Alzheimer's drug (KS4, and use new information in KS5), assess evidence of Alzheimer's risk-factors using a science reliability checklist (KS4), and look at family trees to explore the genetics of Alzheimer's (KS5).
KS4 - Drug Discovery
KS4 - Mythbusting Alzheimer's
KS5 - Genetics of Alzheimer's
KS5 - Plaques and Tangles
This activity extends students’ understanding of the nervous and immune systems and monoclonal antibodies. It asks them to apply their knowledge to an unfamiliar situation – the mechanism of a new drug for AD.
In this activity students are presented with three different claims about possible risk factors for AD. They have to critique the evidence in order to decide which risk factors are more likely.
Many people who have relatives with AD are worried that they will also develop the disease – but is AD inherited? In this activity students will explore this question by studying family trees, drawing genetic crosses and interpreting information about genes and alleles.
In this activity students are presented with a possible idea for treatment. They study the mechanisms behind the development of AD in order to critique the idea, before developing their own.
Tuesday 17th Jul 2018, 11.30am

Ancient Mysteries in Marvellous Mud

It took over a billion years for life to transition from simple eukaryotic cells, like primitive algae, to simple animals like sponges or jellyfish. But, why did it take such a long time?

Researchers at the University of Oxford studying ancient Australian mudstone have found evidence that is helping entirely reshape our picture of evolution and how the Earth developed. In these resources students will undertake a range of practical activities to investigate properties of mud and how pH affects living things (KS3), look at geological timescales (KS4), and learn about how X Rays can be used to identify signs of life on other planets (KS4) and spotting the first signs of life here on Earth (KS5).
KS3 - Evolution Detectives
KS4 - A Geological Blink
KS4 - Fingerprinting Mars Mud
KS5 - Fingerprinting First Life
In this lesson, students will be making and studying the properties of their own mud using pH experiments. They will be thinking about how pH affects microbes, and the ways that mudstones form, erode and break down. They will look at water, earth and air as they explore the science of evolution and wonder about how to identify traces of early life on Mars.
In this lesson, students will be coming to grips with the geological timescale of the Earth, of life on Earth, and of human history. They will be exploring the colourful history that explains how scientists can detect the colours of creatures long dead, and identify hints of early microbial life interacting with the atmosphere and lithosphere.
In this lesson, students will be exploring x-ray diffraction, the analytical technique used by scientists to explore the underlying structures of muds and comparing them to their own observations. Their detective skills will come in useful when samples gathered by rovers on Mars are compared to samples from Earth’s history. Astrobiologists hope to detect traces of minerals that could be “fingerprints” of early life. This lesson is better suited to higher ability classes.
In this lesson, students will be exploring x-ray diffraction, the analytical technique used by scientists to explore the underlying atomic structures of minerals, isotopic dating, and using microscopes to image microstructure.