Interactive Video Vignettes for Biology

Sample Vignettes

You can open a sample of each vignette in a new window by clicking on the title of the vignette in the table. Do not give these links to students. If you wish to use any vignettes in your classes, contact Jean Cardinale at Alfred University to get links for your students.

IVV Title

Vision and Change Core Concepts

Big idea

IVV synopsis

Why is my Phenol Red Yellow?



Buffers regulate pH by absorbing and releasing protons

A biology student and her friend wonder why cell culture media changes from red to yellow as the culture ages. A link is made between CO 2 release and bicarbonate and acid production. The students also design an experiment to test each of the ingredients in the media, and make the connection that chemical buffers can prevent acidification of the solution. The concept of a buffer is clarified by considering the buffering capacities of the buffer compared to the amino acids.

Whose graph is better?


Populations exhibit variability due to abotic influences

Two students collecting field data disagree over the appropriate number of samples to take as well as how to represent the quantitative data. In the computer lab the students seek the help of a TA and work to understand the difference between raw and analyzed data, the correct way to represent categorical data, and the importance of proper statistics.

Why didn’t you write that down?


Osmosis is a specialized diffusion resulting from the presence of a semi-permeable membrane

Students forgot to write concentrations of sugar on bottles of media needed for a laboratory experiment. Unable to make more media, the students are able to utilize equipment in the laboratory and set up a diffusion experiment to determine which bottle contains which solution.

Dead thing by a tree


Energy Transformation

The carbon link between decomposition and plants happens via gaseous carbon dioxide.

Students collecting data in a field course discover a dead, decomposing animal under a tree in the field. The students and their instructor have a discussion about decomposition, and the instructor asks how carbon from the animal becomes biomass in nearby plants. While students initially mis-identify uptake of carbon via roots, an experiment in decomposition allows students to link decomposer respiration to release of carbon dioxide, which can be taken up by plants and fixed via photosynthesis.

Extra Credit Project

Energy Transformation

Biosynthesis and cell growth are dependent on photosynthesis

A student is trying to figure out the minimal growth requirements for green algae. She discovers that algae do not require anything other than water, essential salts, CO2 from the air, and light for photosynthesis. In the end the student is able to make the connection that plants and green algae are able to utilize light energy to drive the production of glucose.

To Ferment or Not to Ferment: That is the Question

Energy Transformation

Environmental conditions (O2) influence metabolic pathways

Two undergraduate biology students are puzzling over the results from a microbiology experiment meant to determine if a bacterial strain is capable of fermentation or not. They reason their way through the problem, set up, and carry out another experiment to test their ideas. In the end, they are able to come to an understanding about the relationship of two key metabolic pathways.


Information Flow

Mechanism of genetic inheritance

A college student video chats with his mother, who tells him that a cousin has passed away as the result of Marfan Syndrome. As the pair learn about Marfan Syndrome, they become concerned that the student may also be affected. The student explains genetic inheritance to his mother, and together they piece together a pedigree that they analyze with respect to the disease.

How do you find a needle in a haystack?


Information flow

Mutations exist prior to selection

Two students are working on an undergraduate research project in biology involving cloning a gene in bacteria. They are not getting the results they expect and must investigate their results more deeply. In the end, they learn how an antibiotic selects for resistant bacteria that are already present at low numbers in a population, which clarifies how natural selection works and why antibiotic resistant bacteria are a major health issue.

Going green

Information Flow

Nonsense mutations affect protein expression but not transcription or replication.

A group of undergraduates is working on a research project where they are trying to express a GFP fusion in a new cell line. They show that the DNA is incorporated into the genome and the mRNA is expressed, but they do not get green cells. Sequencing reveals that the incorporated gene contained a nonsense mutation, and students revise their ideas about how information is used at each level of gene expression.

Divide and Conquer

Information Flow

DNA sequence determines homology and the mechanism of homologous pairing. Ploidy is defined as the number of complete sets of unique genetic information in a cell.

A college instructor is leading an interactive in-class demonstration to model the important aspects of the process of meiosis. Students volunteering for the demo and classroom members offer explanations to the various questions posed by the instructor. The user is asked to answer the questions posed to the student "audience" as well. At the end of the lesson the students in the class (as well as the IVV user) realize the importance of DNA sequence and genetic information to explain concepts of ploidy, homology and homologous pairing.

To learn more about Interactive Video Vignettes, or to download Vignette Studio software so you can make your own, visit the Compadre website.

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 Copyright © 2016, RIT

This material is based in part upon work supported by National Science Foundation (DUE-1432303 and DUE-1432286). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.