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Kansas School Naturalist

KSN - Vol 24, No 4 - Biological Baseball

Volume 24, Number 4 - April 1978

Biological Baseball

by Robert J. Boles

PDF of Issue


Published by Emporia State University

Prepared and issued by The Division of Biology

Editor: Robert J. Boles

Editorial Committee: James S. Wilson, Gilbert A. Leisman, Thomas Eddy, Robert F. Clarke, John Ransom

Online format by: Terri Weast

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas teachers, school board members and administrators, librarians, conservationists, youth leaders, and other adults interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as supply lasts, except Vol.5, No.3, Poisonous Snakes of Kansas. Copies of this issue may be obtained for 25 cents each postpaid. Send orders to The Kansas School Naturalist, Division of Biology, Emporia Kansas State College, Emporia, Kansas, 66801.

The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April of each year by the Kansas State Teachers College, 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, 66801. Second-class postage paid at Emporia, Kansas.

"Statement required by the Act of October, 1962: Section 4369, Title 39, United States Code, showing Ownership, Management and Circulation." The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April. Editorial Office and Publication Office at 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, 66801. The Naturalist is edited and published by the Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas. Editor, Robert J. Boles, Department of Biology.


The author used the game of "Biological Baseball" many times in his over 15 years of teaching Biology in high school. The "game" may be used in other classes as well to stimulate interest and make reviewing more fun.

Biological Baseball

by Robert J. Boles

Baseball is often referred to as our national pastime. Almost all American boys and girls know the rules of the game, and many have participated in actual competition. This issue of The Kansas School Naturalist will explain bow the rules of baseball may be adapted to review the material covered in the course in biology. Past experience has shown that students enjoy and look forward to participating in a game of "biological baseball."

The game is played by dividing the students into teams, and, using questions rated as to difficulty ("singles," "doubles," etc.), the game is conducted much as in a regular baseball game.

The teacher should prepare a set of questions over the material that has been covered in class or in the laboratory. The questions should be "rated" as to difficulty. A question which a majority of the students should know would be a "single," or "one-base hit." A more difficult questions would be rated a "double." Questions with a rather high degree of difficulty would be worth three bases. Those questions requiring an excellent knowledge of the subject material would be designated "home runs" and would "clear the bases."

The teacher may want to have the students write some of the questions to be used in the game (e.g., ten questions per student).

It is usually best to type the questions on 3 x 5 cards, along with the degree of difficulty (how many bases?). The cards can then be shuffled as you would a regular deck of cards, in order that no one will know the order in which the questions will be asked.

baseball diamond diagram

You may wish to have a student draw a baseball diamond on a sheet of poster board. The drawing may then be placed on a bulletin board, and the runners' position shown by colored pieces of paper held in place with thumb tacks or map pins.


The simplest way to select teams is to divide the class into halves (e.g., East three rows vs. West three rows). The girls may wish to challenge the boys, or vice versa. One class may wish to schedule a "game" with another class (e.g., first hour challenge third hour). A "World Series" of "All Stars" between two neighboring schools is also a possibility.

Some of the best times to have a game of "Biological Baseball" are when reviewing the material before a major test, or when the students are restless, due to some distracting events, such as before a home athletic contest, or before the start of a vacation period.

The following rules will allow all participants to operate under the same set of guidelines, and will serve to keep down arguments and disputes during the game.

baseball diamond diagram

A rough sketch of a baseball diamond on the chalkboard will suffice. Runners may be indicated by an "X" by (he proper base, and the "X" erased when the runner is advanced or the team is out.


Length of a game

Though a regular baseball game normally consists of nine innings, the length of a game of Biological Baseball will usually be determined by the length of a class period. A game may be "postponed because of the bell," and play resumed at the start of the next period, if the class wishes.

"At bat"

A team will be "at bat" until three "batters" have been retired. It will be agreed that:

a. Answering a "single" question correctly will send the batter to first base. A runner on first shall be advanced to third, and a runner on second will score.

b. A "double" or "triple" question will score a runner from any base.

c. A missed question is an "out."

d. A partially correct answer will be a "sacrifice" and advance a "runner" who might be on base, but the batter will be out. If no runner is on base, the batter giving the partially correct answer will be considered out.

baseball score board

A "score board" may be drawn on poster board, and tacked to the bulletin board. The number of runs each inning may be indicated by placing a card with the appropriate number of runs scored marked on it in the proper blank by means of a thumb tack.

An Inning

Each team will be permitted three outs per inning. All runs scored before three outs will be entered on the score board.


Should a student on the "at bat" side give any help by whispering an answer, or otherwise give some clue as to the correct answer, it shall be ruled "offensive interference," and batter declared out.

If one of the team members "in the field" is guilty of trying to distract the batter in answering his question, it shall be ruled "defensive interference" and the batter sent to first, and all runners on base advanced one base.

baseball scoreboard

A "score board" may be sketched on the chalkboard, and the number or runs each inning written in the appropriate blanks.


It is usually best if the teacher read off the questions to be answered, though he may sometimes select a student to be the "pitcher."


Regardless of whether the teacher reads the question, or selects a student to do the pitching, it is best if the teacher assume the role of the umpire, to decide if an answer should be counted as correct or not.


Pitcher -- the person asking the questions.

Umpire -- the person making the decision as to the correctness of an answer. He shall also rule in cases of interference.

At bat -- the team whose turn it is to answer questions.

In the field -- the team awaiting its turn to be at bat.

Batter -- the student attempting to answer the question.

Hit -- a question answered correctly.

Sacrifice -- a partially correct answer. The batter shall be out, but any runners on base shall be advanced one base.

Interference -- to attempt, by sign or word, to help a batter give a correct answer (offensive); to attempt, by sign or word, to cause a batter to give an incorrect answer (defensive).

Out -- a missed question.

Game -- the number of innings that can be played in the time available. A game may be "delayed because of time," and continued at the next period, if desired.

Inning -- when each side has played until it has made three outs. If the bell rings during the inning, the score shall revert back to the last completed inning.


Score may be kept by drawing a scoreboard on the chalkboard. Scores can then be written in in chalk, as can the number of outs. This is probably easiest when the teacher has several sections of biology.

Some student may want to make a scoreboard for his class from posterboard, and the score can then be kept with a felt-tipped pen, or the number of runs each inning indicated by using a card with the appropriate number, held in place by a thumbtack. Use of the felt-tipped pen makes it necessary to prepare a scoreboard for each class, but the scores can be kept for later reference, if needed.


A ball diamond may be drawn on the chalkboard. This permits the keeping track of where a player is on base by checking his position with chalk, and erasing the stranded players when the other team comes to bat.

A more elaborate diamond may be drawn on a large piece of poster board or pressed wallboard. Positions of runners may then be designated by a colored piece of paper held in place by a thumb tack.


The following questions, covering the broad field of biology, might well serve for use when reviewing for the final examination at the end of the semester or school year. The teacher may wish to raise or lower the "hit" values given, depending upon the emphasis that was given over the topic covered by the question.

1. The actual gaseous exchange from atmosphere to blood in mammals takes place in the:

a. pleural membrane
b. epiglottis
c. bronchial tubes
d. trachea
e. alveoli


2. As compared to the energy yielded by aerobic respiration, the energy yield of anaerobic respiration is:

a. greater
b. less
c. about the same
d. greater in plants, but less in animals
e. greater in animals, but less in plants


3. Probably the greatest adaptive value of having two sexes is:

a. it insures the continued existence of various species
b. it produces new genetic combinations
c. it allows a greater rate of reproduction
d. it occurs when the organism is in the adult stage
e. in humans, it allows for marriages and divorces


4. In conjugation:

a. two unspecialized cells of about the same size unite or fuse
b. two cells specialized for reproduction fuse
c. a piece of the parent breaks off to form a new individual
d. a large female cell fuses with a small male cell
e. a small, motile gamete swims to and fuses with a large, non-motile female sex cell


5. The correct arrangement of the categories of the classification system:

a. kingdom, phylum, order, class. family, genus, species
b. kingdom, phylum, class. order, genus, species, family
c. kingdom, phylum, family, class, order, genus, species
d. kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species
e. kingdom, class, phylum, order, genus, family, species


6. In a forest in northern United States many wolves which normally prey upon deer were killed in order to increase the deer population. The number of deer then increased rapidly for the first few years, then sharply declined. The most logical reason for this rapid decline is:

a. the deer population increased beyond the limits of its food supply
b. the deer left the area
c. disease killed most of the deer
d. wolves migrated back into the area in large numbers
e. the deer became careless with the disappearance of the wolves


7. The youngest layer of xylem in a woody stem is located:

a. just outside the cambium
b. between the cambium and phloem
c. just outside the pith
d. just inside the cambium
e. just outside the bark


8. Pairs of genes which influence the same trait and are found on homologous chromosomes are called:

a. alleles
b. phenoty pes
c. genotypes
d . mutants
e. dominants


9. The process by which two water molecules are split into two hydrogen and one oxygen molecule under the influence of light and chlorophyll is known as:

a. photoperiodism
b. bioluminescence
c. photolysis
d. phototropism
e. hydrolysis


10. The number of legs possessed by most insects:

a. two pairs
b. three pairs
c. four pairs
d. one pair per body segment
c. varies with the species


11. The approximate percentage of oxygen in the air is:

a. 10%
b. 16%
c. 21%
d. 78%
e. 100%


12. A protein is a complex chemical made up of:

a. many carbohydrates "hooked" together
b. fatty acids
c. amino acids
d. various minerals and vitamins
e. at least ten sugar molecules


13. Which of the following statements is the broadest generalization of biological facts?

a. backboned animals have well-developed nervous systems
b. living things are organized into cells
c. some organisms have both plant and animal characteristics
d. extra-cellular digestion is characteristic of higher animals
e. mammals are warm-blooded


14. The ripened or matured ovule of a flower becomes a(n):

a. stem
b. fruit
c. seed
d. cotyledon
c. shell (single)

15. A digestive gland that also has an important endocrine function:

a. liver
b. spleen
c. thyroid
d. pancreas
e. stomach (single)

16. If one animal of a symbiotic pair is a parasite, the other is known as the:

a. predator
b. commensal
c. mutual
d. host
e. vector


17. Factors ordinarily necessary for seed germination:

a. oxygen, moisture, light
b. moisture and light
c. soil and light
d. oxygen, moisture, suitable temperature
e. food, lack of noise, darkness


18. Most plants differ from animals in that they:

a. make their own food
b. need water
c. require free oxygen
d. have cells
e. are not affected by the environmental temperature


19. A term applied to animals that must live in the water:

a. subterranian
b. nocturnal
c. aquatic
d. amphibious
e. hydrophilous


20. The ameba and paramecium have been placed in tbe same phylum because they:

a. consist of single cells
b. have nuclei
c. are microscopic
d. are made of protoplasm
e. can move about


21. The organism that usually carries or spreads Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:

a. mosquito
b. fly
c. tick
d. flea
e. rodents


22. A researcher injects some blood from a sick dog into a healthy dog. If the healthy dog develops the same disease, which of the following conclusions is most justified?

a. a "germ" causes the disease
b. something in the blood definitely causes the disease
c. the blood of a diseased dog will cause the disease in a second healthy dog into which it has been injected
d. the disease was caused by something both dogs had eaten
e. there is insufficient evidence to reach any of the above conclusions


23. The compound in cells in the greatest amount:

a. protein
b. starch
c. fats
d. water
e. minerals


24. The most common clement, found in protoplasm:

a. sodium, oxygen, hydrogen, chlorine
b. carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen
c. oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, potassium
d. oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, iron
e. water, carbon, sugars, protein


25. The -- NH 2 in a compound form a(n):

a. acid group
b. amino group
c. purine ring
d. methane group
e. basic carbohydrate molecule


26. Electrically chargcd atoms or groups of atoms that result when molecules dissolve in water are called:

a. nonelectrolytes
b. ions
c. sugars
d. salts
e. acids


27. The umbilical cord connects the:

a. embryo to the placenta
b. embryo to the ovary
c. embryo to the amnion
d. ovary to the uterus
e. embryo to the uterus


28. Babies often "spit up" curds of milk. The milk was changed to this condition in the stomach through the action of the enzyme:

a. rennin
b. pepsin
c. amylase
d. lactase
e. maltase


29. The feeling of hunger in an animal such as man is primarily governed by:

a. the sight and smell of food
b. the absence of food in the stomach
c. the glucose concentration in the blood
d. how active the animal is
e. whether there is food in the small intestine or not


30. All of the following are functions of the liver except:

a. storage of food as glycogen
b. release of food as glucose
c. production of the digestive enzyme called liverase
d. production of bile
e. storage of excess fats


31. Stimulation of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system results in:

a. slowing of the heart beat
b. a fall Or drop in blood pressure
c. constriction of the pupils of the eyes
d. all of the first three choices are correct
e. none of the first three choices is correct


32. Blood pressure:

a. is approximately the same at the arterial and venous ends of the capillaries
b. is higher at the arterial end of the capillary than at the venous end
c. tends to drive fluid into the capillaries from the tissues
d. is greater in veins than in arteries
c. none of the above is correct


33. Erythrocytes:

a. transport oxygen
b. help to fight infection
c. are important in the clotting of blood
e. none of the first three choices is correct


34. People who have hemophilia:

a. lack one of the clotting factors
b. lack thrombocytes (blood platelets)
c. cannot form red blood cells of the proper shape
d. have a defect in their white blood cells
e. caught the condition from carriers with whom they have associated


35. Where along the alimentary canal is the food in a strong acid environment?

a. pharynx
b. stomach
c. esophagus
d. small intestine
e. large intestine


36. Bile salts from the liver:

a. break down proteins
b. acidify the food
c. reduce disaccharides to monosaccharides
d. emulsify fats into colloidal droplets
e. hydrolyze fats into fatty acids and glycerin


37. The principal places where enzymatic digestion occurs are:

a. teeth, esophagus, stomach
b. pharynx, larynx, small intestine
c. stomach, small intestine, large intestine
d. mouth, esophagus, large intestine
e. mouth, stomach, small intestine


38. In parthenogenesis:

a. male and female cells unite
b. no sex cells are involved
c. the egg develops without uniting with a sperm cell
d. the young organism develops from a sperm cell
e. no females are involved


39. All of the organisms of the same kind, structurally and morphologically alike, that interbreed readily in nature, make up a(n):

a. species
b. family
c. society
d. tribe
e. association


40. Give the contribution to science for which each of the following men is famous:

a. Leeuwenhoek
b. Salk
c. Jenner
d. Roentgen

(home run)

41. Homozygous star-eyed condition is lethal (death-producing) in fruit flies. When two star-eyed flies are mated, they produce 180 live offspring. The expected ratio would be:

a. all star-eyed with no normal-eyed young
b. 45 star-eyed, 130 normal-eyed
c. 90 star-eyed, 90 normal-eyed
d. 120 star-eyed, 60 normal-eyed
e. all normal-eyed offspring

(home run)

42. In animals, meiosis occurs:

a. in the production of gametes
b. in the formation of red blood cells
c. in the formation of muscle cells
d. immediately after the egg was fertilized
e. in all of the above cases


43. There are two different fossil forms, each representing a different class, found in undisturbed rock layers of a cliff. One of these is an early amphibian, Onychopus. It is found in a rock layer near the top of the cliff. The other form found in the rock layers below the amphibian would most likely be:

a. a primitive dog
b. a primitive reptile
c. a primitive bird
d. a primitive fish
e. one of the very early horse-like forms


44. If you were to read a considerable number of articles about the cell, you would be able to accept all of the following statements except:

a. the cell is the unit of function in living organisms
b. the cell is the unit of structure in living organisms
c. all cells come from pre-existing cells
d. all cells have some means of locomotion
e. the cell is the minimum organization of matter that is capable of those processes we refer to as life


45. A researcher isolated a pure strain of microorganism from the blood of a diseased sheep. Following injection of the microorganism into a group of fifty sheep, forty of them contracted the disease. Of the following, it is reasonable to conclude that:

a. the microorganisms did not get into the blood of the ten sheep that remained healthy
b. the microorganism is not the cause of the disease
c. the strain of microorganisms was too weak to cause the disease
d. the ten sheep which remained healthy were naturally immune to the disease
e. the forty sheep that got the disease ate something poisonous

(home run)

46. In a typical community the following food chain might be present: grass-rabbit-hawk. Due to an epidemic, the rabbit population was drastically reduced. Which of the following would then probably be true:

a. the grass population would decrease
b. the hawk population would increase
c. both the hawk and grass population would increase
d. the grass population would in crease and hawk population would decrease
e. the grass population would decrease and the hawk population would increase


47. A shipwrecked sailor may actually hasten his death from thirst by drinking sea water, because:

a. excess water will enter his body cells and cause them to swell and burst
b. protoplasm of body cells is hypotonic to sea water, and he will actually lose more water than he gains
c. water of the salty mixture is not permeable to the membranes of his digestive tract
d. so much salt will enter his body the salt content of his blood will rise to deadly amounts
e. the principle of osomosis will not apply to sea water

(home run)

48. Which of the following statements is not true?

a. atoms are composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons
b. similar cells form tissues
c. organs are grouped together to form systems
d. molecules are combined to form atoms
e. tissues working together form organs


49. If a color-blind man married a normal-visioned woman:

a. all of their sons would be expected to be color blind
b. if the woman were heterozygous color blind, we could expect all of the girls of this marriage to be color blind
c. if the woman did not carry the color-blind trait, we could expect none of the sons lo be color blind
d. if one of four sons were color blind, we would have good evidence to infer that the trait came to the son from the father rather than the mother
e. none of the four choices would apply


50. The statement that, "As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive in the struggle for existence, it follows that any individual organism which varies, however slightly in a manner better adapted to the environment will have a better chance of surviving," best illustrates:

a. natural selection
b. mutation
c. isolation
d. the theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics
e. hybridization


(Another "oldie-but-goodie")

Some of you teachers who have been in the profession for a considerable number of years may remember a TV program entitled "Twenty Questions." The rules of the program lend themselves well to creating student interest and getting the student to think in biological terms.

Rules of the game

a. Divide the class into teams.
b. Choose a structure, term, organism, or concept in the biological field.
c. Inform the team whose time it is to ask questions as to whether the item to be identified is in the plant or animal kingdom.
d. Let the other team know the item being identified.
e. A team will be permitted twenty questions to identify the item.
f. Questions should be asked so as to be answered by a "yes" or a "no."
g. The number of questions needed to identify the item will be charged against the team. If a team fails to identify an item in twenty questions, twenty points will be charged against it, and the other team then be given a chance to identify a new item. As soon as an item is identified, the other team will take a turn at identifying a new item.
h. The team with the fewest questions charged against it (as in golf) at the end of the game will be declared the winner.

Example I

Suppose the item chosen for identification is a whale. The team whose turn it is to ask questions is informed that the item is in the animal kingdom. Questions might procced as follows:

IQ. Is it a large animal?
A. Yes.

2Q. Does it live on land?
A. No.

3Q. Does it have to live in the water?
A. Yes.

4Q. Does it have gills?
A . No.

5Q. Is it warm-blooded?
A. Yes.

6Q. Is it a whale?
A. Yes.

Six points would be charged against the team, and the other team then be given a chance to identify a new item.

Example II

The item to be identified might be the word "stamen." The team to ask questions should be told that the item is in the plant kingdom.

1Q. Is it a large plant, such as a tree?
A . No.

2Q. Is it a flowering plant?
A. No.

3Q. Is it a part of a plant?
A. Yes.

4Q. Is it a part of a plant that is below the ground?
A. No.

5Q. Does it have something to do with the fruit or seeds of the plant?
A. Yes.

6Q. Is it a flower?
A. No

7Q. Is it a part of the flower?
A. Yes.

8Q. Is it a part of the male reproductive structure?
A. Yes.

9Q. Is it a pollen grain?
A. No.

10Q. Is it the structure that produces pollen grains?
A. Yes.

Ten points would be charged against the team, and the other team then given a chance to identify a new item.

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