September 4, 2011

September 4, 2011

September 4, 2011

I hope everyone is having a relaxing Labor Day weekend with time to enjoy family and friends.  We had a busy week in class this last week!

Events of the Past Week

Monday - We completed our scientific method experiment by analyzing the results from the petri dishes we streaked on Friday.  There was some really impressive bacterial growth!  Unfortunately, we were not able to conclude whether or not antibacterial soap is actually more effective at removing bacteria than regular hand soap. 

After analyzing our results, we moved on to our next experiment, which was used to investigate some of the characteristics of living things.  The students were given some mystery matter (yeast), sugar, and water that they had to warm up a little bit.  All the materials were placed in a flask, tested for the presence of glucose (to see if the mystery matter was metabolizing the sugar), and then a balloon was put on top of the flask.  The setup was then allowed to run overnight.

Tuesday - We gathered data from our characteristics of life experiment by testing for the presence of glucose in each flask, and observing how inflated the balloons on our flasks were.  There was one question to answer about whether or not the "mystery matter" was alive or not.  Everyone figured out that it was, and most students knew that it was yeast.

The next class activity was to observe 15 different specimens set up around the room, and decide whether they were alive, dead, never alive, or the product of a living thing.  Some groups in some classes had to finish observing some of the specimens on Wednesday, so the questions in the lab were not assigned for homework.

Wednesday - We began class with a reading about a fish hitting the windshield of an airplane.  The students in every class were able to correctly figure out that a bird must have been startled and dropped the fish, which then hit the plane!

After getting our brains going with that activity, we finished looking at all of the specimens and had about 10 more minutes to answer questions from the handout that went along with the activity.  Any unfinished questions were homework.

We spent the next 10-15 minutes, depending on the class and how many questions that they had, reviewing the characteristics of living things and the levels of biological organization.

Finally, we had a review worksheet that the students had to complete in class.  There was a reading about the scientific process in action, followed by 11 multiple choice questions that the students answered in regards to the reading.  Afterwards we briefly discussed the passage and the questions.

Thursday - Everyone got their first taste of an accelerated freshman biology test.  This was the shortest, and probably least difficult, test of the year.  Overall, each class did pretty well!  When the test was completed, every student picked up their very own copy of the periodic table (which I personally believe everyone should have!), and began a packet reviewing the characteristics of atoms, ions, and isotopes.  Any parts of the packet that were not completed by the end of class were to be completed for homework.

Friday - We took some time Friday to go over the results from our first test.  The kids had some good questions!

Once we were done going over the test, we discussed the homework, "Exploring Atoms", from the night before, and then we began a webquest to review the information found in the periodic table, which will be important for us to know during our biochemistry unit!  Homework was to complete any parts of the webquest that were not finished in class.

Upcoming Events

Monday - LABOR DAY! 

Tuesday - The students will turn in their webquests, and I'll answer any questions that they may have.  Hopefully their questions lead into a discussion of atoms vs. ions vs. isotopes.  If not, I'll be trying to lead them there so we can have a discussion about the differences between them!

Afterwards, I will review with them the different types of chemical bonds that will be important in biology.  Those are covalent bonds, ionic bonds, and hydrogen bonds.

For homework, the students will be completing a chemical formula writing worksheet.  This will involve looking at the charges on two different ions, and determing how many of each ion would be needed to make a molecule.

Wednesday - We will begin class by watching about 15 minutes of a video on the properties of water, an essential molecule for life!  Afterwards, we will be doing some experiments investigating the properties of water at various stations set up around the classroom.  Ask your kids to show you some of them.  Most of them can be done at home, and some of them are pretty cool (at least if you're a geek like me)!

For homework, the students will be getting a packet that corresponds to the chapters in their textbooks on biochemistry.  The assignment will be to complete the section in the packet related to the properties of water.

Thursday - We will finish our properties of water lab.  Once every team has completed all of our stations, we will process the science behind each station, and the students will be taking some lecture notes on the important characteristics of water.

For homework, everyone will be reading the introduction to a lab we will do on Friday investigating acids and bases, and then completing the prelab questions that go along with it.

Friday - We will investigate several household products using different pH indicators, both pH paper and litmus paper, to determine whether they are acids or bases.  The students will also be expected to remember the color changes associated with red and blue litmus paper when they are each placed in an acid or a base.  I try to help them with a little rhyme:  "Blue to red it's an acid" (I emphasize and slightly mispronounce acid as "a-SAID" so that they remember it better). 

Homework will be to complete the questions in the lab that go along with the investigating household chemicals portion of the lab.  There is a part 2 to the lab that we will do on Monday of the following week.

Interesting Tidbits

I wanted to remind everyone one last time that if you do not want me to post a picture of your child on this blog, please let me know by e-mailing me at  If I don't hear from you by next Sunday (the 11th), I'll assume that it is OK with you.

Also, I sent an e-mail from Mrs. Oakes, who coordinates internships for us, about an opportunity for those interested in becoming a doctor to intern at Northwest Memorial.  If you have any questions about the internship, please contact her at  If you did not receive the e-mail, please send me an e-mail at so that I can resend the e-mail to  you.

Have a good week!

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