Making models to represent biological systems is a great tool to learn more about that system. In order to understand the cell, students made models of a eukaryotic cell - not just any model, but an edible model that is also digital. First students created a model of the cell out of edible items. They had to pay attention to where organelles and parts were placed so they could see how one organelle affects another organelle. For example, the placement of rough ER is very important in the cell because of what it does. Once the students made their cell they had to take a picture of it so that they could then label and annotate that picture with functions of each part. This incorporates working with both 3D and 2D models. Students apply what they are learning in class to extended work at home. Who knew how yummy something digital could be?
Part of science is learning about technology. This means learning all about the Technological Design Process. This process is commonly found in the engineering fields, but applies in biology as well. For example, the invention of the microscope led to the discovery of many things we now know about the cell. The microscope is a tool that was engineered to extend the human eye. Scientists worked tirelessly through trial-and-error to produce this tool and make it available to other scientists. We mimicked this process by building a bridge (out of noodles) across a sink (a dangerous river) so that our marshmallow family could cross safely. This proved to be tricker than the students originally thought. It also lead to collaboration and creativity among the students. Each group had a different approach to solving this problem, which is the beauty of the technological design process.
In order to understand living things we must first understand what makes something living. All living things share certain characteristics. One of the first things we do in Honors Biology is study those characteristics and mimic as many of them as we can. In this lab students went around the room reading about and practicing working with the characteristics of life.
It's good in class to spend some time talking...and walking. We had a circle discussion on stem cells and stem cell research. We shared ideas, debated the hot topics and asked questions.
We also get up and get moving. When learning about energy and the energy found in foods, we did a lab to see how many flights of stairs one would have to walk in order to "burn" off the Calories in a snack they just consumed. See...I told them their homework was to bring a snack to class. One they would get to eat. After they ate it, I told them were going to now "burn" it off :)
To reinforce the concept of Osmosis, we did an Osmosis Lab using potatoes. Students had to place cubes of potatoes in different salt concentrations overnight and observe what happened. They had to make guesses about whether or not water would leave the cells of the potatoes, enter the cells of the potatoes or do nothing at all. We applied this to how our cells act.
In order to model the arrangement of the cell membrane, we used candy. Candy is colorful, comes in a variety of shapes and is fun to eat. Students had to model the arrangement of the cell membrane using the candy provided for them. Once they were able to model it correctly and explain it to me, they could eat it - their favorite part.
This week we learned all about cells. We did a lab where we removed cheek cells (don't worry...it doesn't hurt) and looked at them under the microscope. Along with the cheek cells, we discovered that many of us need to brush and gargle more often - we also found food particles! We practiced using the microscope, staining cells, and drawing what we saw. Students could also take a picture of their cells with their cell phone cameras. One student's turned out so good I had to share it. Students were able to apply what we were learning in class to something real - THEM!
This year, the NHS Environmental Science Club has partnered with the York County Master Gardeners and ATC to get the greenhouse at ATC operational for the winter and spring. Currently, there are 2 greenhouses between NHS and ATC that are not being used as intended. The Environmental Science Club has been working since last spring to clean up the insides of these greenhouses as well as clean around the outside to make the space usable. In order to bring this gardening initiative into the biology classroom, the Honors Biology 1 classes will be working on a Technological Design Project to design the inside of the greenhouse. Their problem was simple : MAKE THE GREENHOUSE FUNCTIONAL! In class, we have been learning about scientific thinking and measurement. This week we took a trip over to the greenhouse to measure it's dimensions. We also measured the height and arm reach of students in order to design tables that would accommodate most students. We collaborated and then shared our data. We will begin analyzing this data and then move on to the second part of this project - come up with a design. Check out the students working gathering their measurements.
It's always nice when we have a visitor in class. This week, Officer Eller stopped by during one of our labs. While half the class was working on a Lab Practical, the other half was working on dimensional analysis. Students were helping each other with the math as well as reading various pieces of lab equipment. Splitting up the class this way leads to smaller learning groups, giving students an opportunity to get more one-on-one assistance - even from the School Resource Officer.
In science, collaboration is key. Science involves scientists working together to find answers to questions. In here, we do the same. We work with a partner during the week to help master new concepts. We quiz each other, motivate each other, and collaborate. In labs, we work in small groups to conduct an investigation. We share our data and critique each other's work. Check out what we did this week in groups. Also, meet Chewy - our pet chinchilla.