Posts Tagged ‘Biology’

Junk Drawer Science

Junk Drawer Science is a new science curriculum company started by teachers with great resources for teachers.

Welcome to Junk Drawer Science: a result of years of frustration with the out-of-touch, and often-out-of date resources that have been available to us as teachers. We believe that it is time for a revolution in science education. The textbook should be relegated to its proper place. It should be a resource and no longer the focal point of our science classes!

Our mission is to provide engaging materials that stimulate learning in your students. We believe that science should not be expensive, and that the simplest lessons are often the most profound.

At the moment, they have three products available for purchase: a book full of great activities for middle and high school life science classes, a guide to using interactive notebooks in science class, and the game they created called “The Game of Evolution”.

I happen to teach with the Junk Drawer Science owners and can guarantee that their products are worth every penny. They have worked hard to develop curriculum and lesson tools that are effective in the classroom as well as easy to implement on a low (to non-existent) budget.

I guess that makes this a shameless plug: all in the name of providing the world with great teaching resources!

Unfortunately, they will not be at the NSTA conference in San Francisco, so for now, you will have to check them out online.

Digestive System Monologues

We finished up the Digestive System by having students write monologues as if they were a part of the digestive tract (accessory organs such as the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, etc. included). Here’s the finished product:

Students presented their monologues in groups of two or three (there are two classes worth on monologues posted) and wrote them on colored paper for the bulletin board. This would be a great activity for any age group. With homeschoolers, you could even have each child write a monologue for each part – a great way to reinforce the content!

Student Teaching Week 9 [4/7-4/9]

A short week this week! The New York City public school vacation extended into this week, so we didn’t come back until Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY – First day back! The 6th graders were particularly quiet and studious. They completed a simulation which showed how limiting factors affect a population of milkweed bugs. We also watched the BrainPop clip on Human Population Growth. What a great website! Finally, the kids observed their milkweed bug habitats.

7th grade reviewed what they learned about the respiratory system before break by drawing the entire system and labeling the parts as well as drawing the alveoli and capillaries. Then we read about diseases that affect the lungs and did the List-Group-Label literacy exercise to review new vocabulary. It was really fun to have the whole class interacting as one to create the groups!

THURSDAY – The 6th grade studied an experiment from the FOSS Populations & Ecosystems curriculum that showed three data charts: the effect of temperature on hatching milkweed bugs, the effect of humidity on hatching milkweed bugs, and the effect of light on hatching milkweed bugs. The kids all determined temperature was the most important factor since below 10degrees and above 40degrees no eggs hatched. One student even made the astute observation that under no circumstances did all the eggs in a clutch (the packet of eggs) hatch. It’s so exciting to see them becoming scientists!

The 7th grade classes started the Respiratory Scavenger Hunt. They searched through several books on the respiratory system to answer questions given on the worksheet.

FRIDAY – The 8th graders were presenting their exit projects in a science fair format, so we spent half of each class reading the poster boards set up in the science room. This also meant we were displaced from our room, which provided new and interesting classroom management issues.

6th grade read another experiment on the abiotic limiting factors on algae and shrimp in Mono Lake. Students identified the most favorable conditions under which the most reproduction algae and shrimp is possible.

7th graders finished the scavenger hunt. We allowed them to use books, as well as each other, to complete the worksheet. Approximately 2/3 to 3/4 of the students finished all but one or two questions, so I should have left a couple of questions off since not having enough time provided students with a lot of anxiety. I was particularly frustrated with two students who are very intense about their academics; they were panicked that they were not complete and would get a bad grade. When I reviewed the packets, these students had only answered 3 of approximately 15 questions. I felt compelled to give them both a √- since their work was not satisfactory – I am planning on adding a note that they need to improve their time management skills.

Scavenger Hunt Activity

The following is a lesson I wrote using a literacy scavenger hunt to help students review and learn more about the respiratory system. There is a lesson plan, accompanying worksheet, and a reference page so you can try and find the books we found most useful.

While this lesson focuses on the respiratory system (for 7th grade), the activity itself can be altered to be more appropriate for any age level or content area.

Posts for Teachers 2/11/10

Technology Stuff:

Teaching Tips:

Lesson Planning Stuff:

Other Stuff:

Student Teaching Week 3

Wow, the last few weeks have gone by so quickly that I can’t keep up!

Week 3

MONDAY – Started out with a Professional Development Day that was a great way to get to know the school culture and faculty better. We had the opportunity to experience learning through different senses (my two sessions were movement- and touch-based learning).

TUESDAY – Rode the bus with a lady who was convinced there was no air on the bus. The new semester also started on this day and my cooperating teacher communicated his expectations for the students and told them what to expect. Each of his classes last for the whole year, but I thought it was a nice way to start the semester.

Physics started learning circular motion and there were some neat ways of demonstrating centripetal force:

  • Each table is given a manilla folder and a marble. They are told to curve the folder so they can roll the marble along the table into the folder’s curve and watch the marble exit the curve in a straight line.
  • Attach a rubber washer to a string and swing it above your head in a horizontal circle so that when you let go, it shows that the washer will fly off in a tangential motion.
  • Using a large cylindrical beaker, put a rubber ball in the opening and spin around with the open end towards you. The ball will remain in the beaker. Switch the organization so that when you spin, the ball has the opportunity to fly out.
  • Spin a cup with water in a vertical or horizontal circle.

The 10th grade biology class learned about blood types. I couldn’t believe it when one girl came in wearing skinny legged acid wash jeans – it’s scary how trends from my childhood are popular again!

WEDNESDAY – Students in physics created accelerometers in class. They took a flask beaker and filled it with water. Then they added a small popcorn packing foam piece tied on a string and closed it up. When they turned it upside down, the foam piece floated in the middle of the beaker near the top. Since the water is more dense than the foam, the water moves in the direction of the velocity and the foam moves in the direction of the acceleration. When a student spins in the circle, the foam piece points towards the inside of the circle – demonstrating centripetal acceleration.

10th graders learned about allele frequency and did a fun activity where they picked dominant and recessive alleles out of a cup to see which traits their “population” would have.

THURSDAY – Physics reviews circular motion and 10th grade introduces evolution.

FRIDAY – 10th grade discusses overproduction and evolution and continue the activity from Wednesday by eliminating the homozygous recessive parts of the population to demonstrate how evolution occurs.

I also got to begin grading homework assignments and loved it! Here is one students response to the question, “What is the difference between rotation and revolution?”:

Rotation: an object spinning around its own axis
Revolution: an object circling around another object’s axis
Revolutions: a group of people attempting to overthrow the government

Haha, I love high schoolers :)

Student Teaching Week 2

Wow, week two flew by and we’re already into week 3!

Week two consisted of 10th grade biology presentations on genetic disease. It was so fun to listen in on these young, completely nervous presenters as they realized that within the presentation group, they were the expert on their topic. Topics included:

  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Hemachromatosis
  • Color Blindness
  • The BRCA Cancer-linked gene
  • Tasachs, Albinism
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Williams Syndrome
  • Phenalkatonaria
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Coloboma
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
  • Adrenolukodystrophy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Maple Syrup Urine Disorder
  • Lou Gherigs

Each student presented a short summary of the genetic disease they studied. At this time they also handed in their papers after submitting it on TurnItIn.Com to check for plagiarism.

It was really neat to see kids present together without having time to prepare: they didn’t know who else would be in their group or if anyone else would have the same topic. They easily and seamlessly worked together to share about their genetic disorder with the class.

Mike Shum, my cooperating teacher, has this fantastic folder on the wall with a large picture of an owl on the front. It says, “Who” – for student work without a name on it.


  • The kids described the 20th century as if it were antiquated! Do they forget they lived through the turn of the century?
  • There were dozens of words mispronounced, my favorite was “retina” pronounced “ruh-TEEN-ah” – that will not be acceptable in my classroom!

Octopus, Coconuts, & Airplanes, Oh My!

I woke up this morning to some pretty cool current events.

First, as I turned to ABCNews, I saw this crazy article about an octopus who uses coconuts for shelter. I never realized there were coconuts in the ocean, but I guess there are since these researchers have discovered that octopus are able to use coconuts by removing the innards and carrying two halves of the shell to a certain location and then reassemble them to create a shelter. Apparently, this is the first example of an invertebrate using a tool.

Then when I switched to CNN, there was an article about the new Boeing plane. This is the first time in over a decade that Boeing has unveiled a new plane and they claim it is the best yet. “It’s more environmentally friendly, it’s more efficient, uses less fuel, it’s going to cost the operator less to fly, it’s going to allow the passengers to pay less and feel better when they land,” according to Boeing’s CEO. Test flights in the next few months will prove to the world that Boeing’s still got what it takes.

Note: if you’re interesting in reading more about airplane companies, check out Michael Crichton’s book Airframe. It’s a really fun and thrilling read. I had hoped it would be great for a classroom library, but the language leaves a bit to be desired.

If you found the Boeing article interesting, you should check out the Intrepid Museum of Sea, Air, & Space!

DNA Student Contest for Your Students

Educational Technology Guy recently wrote about a science contest for 9th to 12th grade students. The contest is sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics and consists of several essay prompts. The contest details can be found on the ASHG DNA Day website.

Entries are due March 15, 2010 at 5:00pm, so start encouraging your students now!

Discount on 3-D View Professional Development

Last winter, I participated in U.S. Satellite’s professional development course called 3-D View. You can read my entries about the course at the following links: Day 1 and Days 2-5.

I recently got an email that they are offering this course at a discounted rate.

I strongly recommend any teacher involved in general science, earth science, environmental science, ecology, or biology participate.

You can get more information at the 3-D View website.