September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

On this day of remembrance, I hope that all of you are able to find some time to reflect and find some peace.  It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since that terrible day.  It's also hard to believe that these freshmen were only 4 on that day.

Events of the Past Week

Monday - LABOR DAY

Tuesday - On Tuesday we discussed some of the questions from the students' webquest that they completed over the weekend.  Afterwards, the students took notes on four different types of bonds:  ionic, nonpolar covalent, polar covalent, and hydrogen.  For homework, the students completed questions 1-22 in a packet on biochemistry by using their textbook.

Wednesday - We began class by watching a video from the "World of Chemistry" series on the properties of water.  The movie was paused several times during the course of watching it so that we could discuss many of the concepts presented, and the students were supposed to take notes while watching the movie.

After finishing the movie, we began our lab activity investigating the properties of water.  There were several stations for the students to investigate cohesion, adhesion, capillarity, and surface tension.  They should be able to show you some of the activities done in class with materials from around your house, if you're interested!  Hopefully they can explain the science behind those activities, as well.

Thursday - The students were given 10 minutes to finish visiting each of our seven lab stations investigating the property of water.  Then, they were given a lecture on the properties of water.  I tried to draw on their knowledge of water properties gained from their lab experiment, the movie, and their reading to make the lecture as meaningful to them as possible.  The PowerPoint used that day is available under the "Worksheets and Presentations" of the accelerated biology page on

Homework on Thursday was to read the introduction to our lab investigation on acids and bases, and to answer the six prelab questions that followed.

Friday - We began investigating the properties of acids and bases by using pH paper, red litmus paper, and blue litmus paper to determine which household substances are acids and which are bases.  Students will be expected to remember what blue litmus paper indicates, and what red litmus paper indicates, but not the exact pH of the household chemicals, nor will they be expected to remember which household chemicals were acids and which were bases. 

Homework was to read and highlight the procedure for part 2 of the acid and base lab, which will investigate the properties of buffers.

Upcoming Events

Monday - Monday's plan is to compare how many drops of acid it takes to change the pH of a weak basic solution versus an egg white solution.  The students should find that it takes many more drops to change the pH of the egg white because it contains a buffer, which is a chemical that prevents changes in the pH of a solution.  The egg white has a buffer because if the pH of the egg white were to change, the developing embryo inside could be harmed.  The basic solution does not because no living thing was dependent on the solution I made in the back prep area!

Homework on Monday will be to finish any questions remaining from the lab, and then to study for our quiz on atoms, chemical bonding, the properties of water, and acids and bases.  A list of the topics on the quiz was put on the board for the students on Friday.

Tuesday - Quiz day!  The students will need to bring their textbooks to begin working on the next section in their "Biochemistry Worksheet" when they finish their quiz.  Homework will be to finish the questions from that packet that are assigned in class, and to study for their third prefix quiz.

Wednesday - Class will begin with the third prefix quiz of the year, followed by time to process the results from the quiz on Tuesday.

After finishing those two activities, the students will be introduced to the difference between a molecular formula and a structural formula.  This is to prepare them for the lab activity for the day, which will involve using ball and stick models to build several molecules important in biology.  The lab will help reinforce the idea of a structural formula, as well as introduce the students to four important groups of atoms called "functional groups" that they will be responsible for knowing and recognizing.

Thursday - We will finish our model building lab.  There will then be a lecture on the properties of carbohydrates, again drawing on the knowledge the students have gained from their reading out of the textbook on the topic.  This is only a half day due to open house, so I may have to finish the lecture up on Friday.  I look forward to meeting all of you!

Friday - Class will begin with a lecture on the properties of proteins, followed by the beginning of a modeling lab to reinforce what students will have learned from their reading and lecture on the topics of carbohydrates and proteins.

For homework, students will read an article called "Why Structure?" about the important role proteins play in living things.  You may want to read it, too!  I think it's a pretty interesting read.  Then again, I am a biology teacher and a bit of a geek!

Interesting Tidbits

As part of our celebration of Fremd's 50th anniversary, each department in the school is planning activities for a different month.  This month, the family and consumer sciences department has chosen each Wednesday as a day to dress up from a different decade of Fremd's history.  Last Wednesday was 60's day, this Wednesday is 70's day, and next Wednesday is 80's day.  Encourage your kids, if  you can, to take part!  The more people taking part, the more fun these days become.

Also, Mrs. Gattuso shared with me a summer science program available to girls that is run through the University of Illinois.  Registration begins in February, but the sooner you are made aware of the opportunity, the better, as far as I'm concerned!  Now you'll know to start looking for it.  Here is the link to the program:

Come and learn how a little engineering can make a BIG difference! Campers will discover how chemical engineering and bioengineering are teaming up together to help cure diseases, provide alternative sources of energy, and make a real impact in developing countries. Young women will learn how tissue engineering is working to repair human muscles damaged by illnesses such as polio and how to harness alternative sources of energy to use it for constructive ends, as economically as possible, with the least damaging impacts on our environment. As part of the challenge and fun, students will work in state of the art UIUC labs to establish and observe their own culture of muscle cells, to develop medicine to prevent disease, and to create environmentally friendly alternative sources of energy.

Have a great week, everyone!

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