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The Tree of Life

This piece was developed to be used as a teaching tool for the first year biodiversity lab. It showcases life in all its shapes and sizes, ranging from DNA, the basic building blocks of life, all the way to complex ecosystem interactions. This is a new take on the traditional tree of life, which is typically drawn as a phylogenetic tree, representing evolutionary relationships between Earth's species. Phil and his team, chose to instead take us on a journey from the microscopic to the macroscopic. We start with the one of the requirements for life, genetic material capable of encoding the blueprints for life. We get to look at DNA's nucleotide structure and see how DNA organizes at the cellular level, in this case a neuron. Phil and his team do a wonderful job relating the structure of a neuron to a tree, and visually connect the two, which prompts students to think about how the two seemingly unrelated structures do in fact have many similarities. Overall the "Tree of Life" is a thought-provoking piece that allows first year students to draw upon the concepts taught to them in the classroom, and connect them together in new ways.

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