Cross-Curricular Connections with AP Biology

As I go deeper in studying AP Biology, I find strong correlations between this subject and other subjects I have taken in the past throughout high school. The most notable of these is the subject of Chemistry which I found to strongly resemble AP Biology in that both discuss a lot of the same concepts and topics such as intermolecular forces, pH, enzymes, and matter.

AP Biology is defined as the in-depth study of living organisms. Chemistry is defined as the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances. Looking at the definitions, it seems as though the two subjects wouldn’t have much in common. After studying both subjects, it becomes clear this isn’t the case. Both subjects tend to focus on a lot of the same concepts except the way those concepts are applied is different. AP Biology focuses on a lot of the same concepts as those in Chemistry except in more detail; it then relates those concepts to living organisms. Chemistry relates those concepts in explaining how different substances are formed.

Both subjects discussed the topic of intermolecular forces. In Chemistry, we studied a wide range of intermolecular forces to explain how these forces contribute to the properties of the solutions such as their boiling points. In AP Biology, we focused on specific types of intermolecular forces such as hydrogen bonding and Van der Waals interactions and how they influence living organisms. For example, Van der Waals interactions explain how a Gecko lizard is able to walk straight up a wall. Hydrogen bonding contributes to water’s properties such as high surface tension which allows organisms such as spiders to walk across the surface without breaking it. The topic of the pH of solutions was another topic both subjects discussed in detail. In Chemistry, we learned that the pH of the solution contributes to whether a solution is an acid or base. This causes the solution to have certain properties. The acidity or basicity is a measure of how high the H+ or OH- ions are of an aqueous solution. In AP Biology, we studied the pH scale in more detail. We looked at how exactly the pH scale is organized. Every time the pH changes, the ion concentrations increase or decrease by a factor of 10, contributing to the acidity/basicity of the solution. This helps us determine the exact proportions of the H+ and OH- ions.

Chemistry also very briefly touched on the topic of enzymes. Enzymes serve as catalysts in chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy needed for the reaction. They speed up the reaction by reducing the amount of energy needed to activate it. This explains how various chemical reactions are able to come about. In AP Biology we studied how exactly enzymes are able to reduce the activation energy needed for the reaction to occur. Also, enzymes help in biological reactions in the breakdown of biological molecules. For example, the breakdown of lactose (milk sugar) occurs in the body through the enzyme lactase.

In both AP Biology and Chemistry, the topic of matter was discussed in detail. Both subjects studied the subatomic particles that makeup the atom. These atoms make up elements which form compounds. In Chemistry, we studied the periodic table of elements in depth; this table shows the chemical properties of atoms and elements. All of the chemical reactions that occur result from the combinations of these elements. Furthermore, we studied bonds and the polarity of molecules. Polarity is related to the electronegativity of atoms. In AP Biology, although we did not use the periodic table as much, all of this information regarding matter was previously discussed in Chemistry already. Despite the fact that I have only learned a fraction of this course so far, being able to make so many connections like these with Chemistry, the course I took previously, has definitely made AP Biology a lot easier to understand.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

This entry was written by Hiba Y. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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