January 16, 2011

January 16, 2011

January 16, 2011

Last week concluded a very busy first semester for my students.  This will be a relatively short post as the upcoming events include only one big item!

Events of the Past Week

Monday and Tuesday last week we spent our time looking at real life examples of the kinds of impacts mutations in DNA can have on an organism.  The students especially enjoyed looking at organisms that had mutations to the gene that codes for the protein myostatin.  Mutations in this gene lead to extremely muscular animals.  We looked at pictures of cows, mice, trout, and dogs with mutations to this gene, and then used actual DNA sequences of animals that have a mutation in this gene to investigate different types of mutations.  Beginning on Tuesday, I introduced the students to biotechnology by showing them pictures of transgenic organisms, which are organisms that have had a gene from an entirely different organism transplanted into their DNA.  Then we began learning about how something like that can be done.  On Tuesday night, the students were directed to a website that introduced the lab technique of gel electrophoresis.  They came into class on Wednesday very excited, asking if we were actually going to do what they saw on the website.  It was awesome to see high school students legitimately excited about coming to class!  We did the gel electrophoresis experiment on Wednesday, and recorded data on Thursday.  We will be analyzing that data after final exam week.  After recording our data on Thursday, we spent the rest of the period reviewing for our test on DNA structure, replication, and protein synthesis on Friday.  Grades from that test will be posted on Tuesday.  Here are some pictures of my 3rd period students doing the gel electrophoresis experiment.  You can see how much fun they were having - the smiles are not posed!
 Nabiha deep in concentration

 Anushka and Angela inserting DNA into their gel

 Sam and Soumya really enjoyed their experience!

Matt helps Aveen extract DNA from his test tube

Upcoming Events

This week we will spend Tuesday reviewing for final exams.  I will have all of the tests from first semester available for the students to look over.  My 2nd and 3rd hour students will have their final exam on Wednesday, my 4th hour students will have their final exam on Thursday, and my 8th hour students will have their final exam on Friday.  The test will have 145 questions on it.  The breakdown of questions by topic is as follows: 
14 scientific method
6 characteristics of life
31 chemistry/biochemistry
12 microscope/metrics/graphing/scientific notation
24 cells/cell transport
17 energy/enzymes/photosynthesis/respiration
33 DNA/gel electrophoresis
8 cell cycle/mitosis

There was an interesting blog post by the people at Discover Magazine this week on a study that was designed to help students who struggle with test anxiety deal with their anxiety.  It can be found at
I thought the article was rather timely, and perhaps would provide something you could share with your children.  I mentioned it briefly before the test on Friday, but will be sharing a little more about it with my students on Tuesday as well.  Have a good week!

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