Foundation Biology enables students to investigate the processes involves in maintaining life at a molecular, cellular and systems level. In undertaking this study, students examine the importance of blood and the cardiovascular system in the delivery of the cells essential requirements for life. They study the function of various blood cells and components in the human body, and the processes in which cells interact with their immediate environment. The course also enables students to develop an understanding of the structure of the DNA molecule, and examine its function in the coding for the production of proteins. Students develop an appreciation of how life is continued through cell replication and how chromosomes are the basic unit of inheritance in all living organisms.
Area of Study 1 – It’s all about the blood!
In this area of study, students are introduced to concept of the study of biology and the diverse way living things are classified and organised. Students examine the structure and function of a variety of cells and recognise their contribution in different tissues, organs and body systems. They specifically study the structure and function of the cardiovascular system, and the factors that lead to high blood pressure. Students investigate the role of haematopoietic stem cells and the various components and functions of blood. Different methods of substance exchange including diffusion and osmosis are explored between the cardiovascular system and various other body systems
Topic 1 – Biology – the study of life
- What do Biologists study?
- The properties, classification and organisation of life
- The discovery of cells and the development of cell theory
- Cell size, types and cell organelles
- Cells, tissues, organs and organ systems
Topic 2 – The cardiovascular system – the pathway of life
- The cardiovascular system function and interaction with other body systems
- The direction of blood flow throughout the human body; the pulmonary and systemic circulation
- The structure of the heart including its chambers, valves and blood vessels.
- The function of pacemaker cells in producing the heartbeat.
- Blood vessels including; arteries, capillaries, and veins.
- Blood pressure and factors that influence it.
- Problems and conditions of the cardiovascular systems (investigation)
Topic 3 – Blood – the fluid of life
- Stem cells; haematopoietic stem cells and the creation of blood cells
- The composition of blood: overview
- Red blood cells; structure and function in the human body; sickle cell disease
- White blood cells; types and their role in immunity (phagocytes, lymphocytes and platelets); blood clotting
- The composition and function of plasma
- Methods of exchange of substances between cells and their environment; diffusion and osmosis
- Factors affecting the rate of exchange of materials
Area of Study 2 – It’s all about your genes!
In this area of study, students are introduced to the structure and function of the DNA molecule. They learn about the genetic code and the synthesis of proteins for growth, regulation and in the maintenance of life’s processes. Students examine the relationship between genes and chromosome and recognise how mutations occur and can passed down through generations. They investigate the phases of the cell cycle and mitosis, and the role of meiosis in the production of gametes for the continuity of life. Heredity is introduced as a study of how characteristics are passed down to future generations, and various patterns of inheritance are explored. The ABO and Rhesus blood systems are examined, as well blood linked disorders such as haemophilia and sickle cell anaemia.
Topic 4 – DNA – the genetic code of life
- The history of DNA; a brief look at the role key scientists made to our current understanding of DNA
- The structure of DNA and RNA
- The function of DNA; protein synthesis (transcription and translation); the diverse functionality of proteins
- Genes, chromosomes (structure) and the human karyotype
- Genetic mutations (gene and chromosome); sickle cell disease
Topic 5 – Cell replication – the continuance of life
- The cell cycle; interphase, mitotic phase and cytokinesis
- DNA replication
- The formation of gametes (sperm and ova) through meiosis
- Fertilisation of gametes; sex determination and twins
Topic 6 – Heredity – the inheritance of life
- Introduction to genetics
- Autosomal inheritance; variations of genes – alleles (dominant and recessive); genotype and phenotype
- Predicting outcomes of genetic crosses using Punnett squares
- Sex-linked inheritance; genes carried on the X-chromosome; haemophilia
- Using pedigrees to trace the inheritance of a trait or mutation
- Multiple alleles and codominance; the ABO and Rh blood systems
Students undertake a variety of assessment tasks throughout the course, all of which are aimed for students to show their understanding and abilities of the course objectives. Assessment task are dynamic and will include tasks from the list below:
Practical investigations log book
- A selection of reports in your logbook will be assessed throughout the study
Area of study or Topic tests
- Tests either at the end of one or several topics or entire outcomes
- A research investigation related to an area of the course (changes regularly)
- At the end of the course (either mid/end year) covering all six topics studied
Pathways from Foundation Biology
This course is strongly recommended for all students considering VCE Biology, which can lead into a variety of careers focusing on medicine, nursing, health, sport science, nutrition, environment, zoology, genetics and biotechnology, just to name a few.