Have you ever wondered where all of our different cells come from? Well, they come from stem cells. Stem cells are cells that undifferentiated, meaning they don't have a specific function yet in our bodies. We can get stem cells from embryos (very controversial) or adults - like in bone marrow (a bit painful!). Students spent the last day and a half discussing and learning about stem cells. They read in their book, took notes, discussed, read an article and did a response to it, and mimicked how stem cells differentiate. We took a journey from a zygote to a specialized cell (i.e. a skin cell or nerve cell). While we didn't go into all the details of the process, students hopefully walked away knowing more about them than previously. Check out the ways we learned about them below. If students can tell someone about them then they have learned just how stem cells can be awesome cells.
So many students have a hard time visualizing a cell so we actually looked at one - a cheek cell. Students used a microscope and some stain to view their cheek cells. Students learned the technique of proper staining (in order to see parts specifically) and how to use a microscope. Some students learned quickly how easy it is to break a slide or cover slip - you have to be gentle! They were fascinated by how small their cells actually are and what you can and cannot see under a microscope. Hopefully their view of the world expanded a bit. Here is a picture of what we saw.
Today we learned about the cell membrane. The cell membrane is represented by the Fluid Mosaic Model. It shows all the parts of the cell membrane and how those parts interact with one another. There are phospholipids, proteins, cholesterol, and carbohydrate chains all in the membrane doing different things at different times. It's a crazy, fascinating network of parts that allow a cell membrane to do it's job successfully - regulate what comes in and out of the cell as well as give the cell some shape and flexibility. We modeled the model by creating a model (say that three times!). We used candy - yes I LOVE candy!! - to do this. This way students had a tangible representation of The Fluid Mosaic Model. First, as a class, we arranged the model, labeled it and went through the parts. After this, the students had to start over and, on their own, recreate the model and label it. Then they had to explain it to me or Ms. McAbee in person and be able to answer questions about it. These methods of instruction appealed to a variety of learning styles - kinesthetic, auditory, and verbal learning were all incorporated. It's important that students be able to learn difficult concepts in ways that make them easier to comprehend. Hopefully after today, they can explain the arrangement of the cell membrane to anyone.
Is it possible for a cell to be both edible and digital? Absolutely! Today, we integrated hands-on learning with digital media. In an effort to visualize the cell, it's parts, and where those parts are in relation to one another, students completed Step 1 of their Edible Digital Cell Project. Students used edible material to create a cell (plant or animal) and include it's respective parts and organelles. Once finished, they took a picture of that cell, which they will now upload to a digital program to annotate. There is way more to this project than just "making a cell". Students must now integrate this picture into a "textbook quality" final product where the picture is clear and the wording is legible. This approach integrates hands-on learning, technology, and collaboration into the biology curriculum. I can't wait to see the final products.
We have officially finished the first unit of Honors Biology I. We spent the last couple of weeks learning about what biology is, why we study it, and how we will approach this branch of study. We started with answering the question: What does it mean to be living? We answered this question by observing, testing and discussing the characteristics of living things. This was our first inquiry-based activity.
In biology it's important to share ideas and collaborate so we work in pairs in class. We do a lot of pair-sharing and working together to solve problems, answer questions, and improve our understanding of this fascinating world.
We did lots of hands-on activities to learn new concepts, reinforce ideas, and explore. Here students were studying the Technological Design Process by mimicking cost, time, and material constraints to solve the problem of too many earthquakes in Earthquake City. Students were given a set amount of time and money to develop a product that could withstand lots of shaking! Lots of great collaboration going on.