September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012

We had a very busy week as we prepared for our test on Friday.  In general, the students did well on their first biology test of the year!

Events of the Past Week

Monday - We set up our experiment to test the effectiveness of regular vs. antibacterial soaps.  3 groups used regular soap, 3 used antibacterial soap, and 1 group used no soap.  Your children should be able to explain to you why one group used no soap!  Homework was to prepare for the prefix quiz on Tuesday.

Tuesday - There was not much bacterial growth on the plates on Tuesday, so we moved on to run our characteristics of life lab after taking our prefix quiz.  Due to the large number of sections of accelerated biology, there was not enough glassware for all of us to run the same experiment on the same day.  We did a different lab instead of the one I had originally planned that met the same objectives.  The main objective was to have students think about and generate a list of the characteristics of life exhibited by living things.  The lab we ran had the students investigate 15 different specimens, and then determine if they were alive, alive but dormant, never alive, the product of a living thing, or dead.  Homework was to complete questions 1-3 and 8-13 in the lab handout.

Wednesday - We began class by looking at our petri dishes to see if there was any bacterial growth on the plates.  There were quite a few colonies of bacteria, so the students gathered data on the number of bacteria on the plate that was streaked before they washed their hands, and also on the plate that was streaked after they washed their hands.  They were then told which groups had antibacterial soap, and which had regular soap.  In most classes, there were more bacteria on the plate after washing with regular soap than before.  However, as I explained to the classes, we did not have nearly enough test cases, nor did we perfectly eliminate all variables except for the type of soap being used.  Hopefully they are all still washing their hands regularly!  Afterwards, we had a class discussion about what statistics like mean, median, mode, and range can be used for.

Finally, we had a class discussion about the characteristics of living things, and reviewed the steps of the scientific method.  Homework was to begin preparing for our test on Friday.

Thursday - The students began class by reading an article from that I found on the TIME: Ideas website about how to observe like a scientist.  Here is a link to that article at a different location on the web, if you are interested -  We used that to review the scientific method one last time.  Afterwards, the students were offered the opportunity to ask any questions they had about our test on Friday.  With about 30 minutes left in class, we then began a webquest on the Periodic Table.  The students were made aware of the fact that the information they learned in the webquest would not be on the test on Friday.  Homework was to study for the test.

Friday - Friday was test day.  The students took a 30 question multiple choice assessment on the scientific method and the characteristics of living things that is used by all 4 accelerated biology teachers at Fremd.  Afterwards, they took a 10 question district assessment test given to all freshmen in the district on the topic of the scientific method.

For homework the students were to complete the rest of the scientific method webquest.

Upcoming Events

Monday - Labor Day!  NO SCHOOL!

Tuesday - We will begin class by analyzing our results from our scientific method test.  The mean score was an 84% (a B+), and the median score was an 87% (an A-), which are pretty good results for the first test of the year.  Following this, we will review the webquest and I will see if the students have anything they would like me to review about the periodic table.  I will also ask a few questions myself to see what they really did learn by doing their homework.  Following this, the students will take notes on ionic bonds, nonpolar covalent bonds, polar covalent bonds, and hydrogen bonds.  Homework will be to complete questions 1-22 in a Biochemistry worksheet packet that goes along with their textbook.

Wednesday - We will be watching a 20 minute "World of Chemistry" video about the properties of water.  The video will be stopped several times to have discussions about some of the properties of water that will be explained to the students.  Following the video, we will be experimenting with water at seven different stations set up around the room.  Ask your kids to show you one or two of the experiments.  All of them are repeatable and easy to do at home!  More importantly, see if they can explain any of them.  If not, don't worry.  We'll be explaining how every experiment works on Thursday.

Thursday - We will be finishing our water properties lab, and then the students will be taking notes on the properties of water, what causes water to have those properties, and why those properties are important to living things.  Those are the three key pieces of information I will expect each student to know about each of the properties of water:  the name of the property, what causes water to have that property, and why it is important to living things.  Homework will be to read the prelab information for our next experiment on acids and bases, and to answer the 6 prelab questions that go along with the reading.

Friday - We will run the first part of our acid base experiment.  The students will test approximately 10 different household items with red and blue litmus paper, and then with pH paper.  The idea is that they will determine what red litmus paper is an indicator of, and what blue litmus paper is an indicator of.  They should be able to tell you that when they come home from school.  Homework will be to answer any questions in the lab that go along with testing these household chemicals, and to read Part II of our lab, which will involve investigating the function of buffers in living things.

Interesting Tidbits

For those of you who are interested, most of the handouts for this class can be found on my website -  Click on the accelerated biology link, and you will be taken to a page where you can access first and second semester worksheets and labs, along with a few of my PowerPoint presentations.  Hopefully you find the website and this blog helpful!  As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them on this blog or to e-mail me at

Graba Geek of the Week

The first Geek of the Week for this year goes to two people: Kevin Stevens and Tony Lu, who both earned a perfect score on our first test of the year!  Way to go, guys!

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