Week 3

Week 3: September 16-20

Monday, September 16 (LS1-2): After making and recording corn seed observations, students plant seeds in soil in preparation for the next phase of our experiment.


Next, students will discuss the analysis questions from last Friday’s assignment.  In The Breath of Life reading, students learned how the respiratory system of humans enables gas exchange, with the lungs inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide.  The gas exchange occurs within the alveoli, thin-walled sacs inside the lungs.  The reading introduced the concept of feedback systems, focusing on the special nerve cells in the cardiovascular and nervous systems that can sense changes in pH.  As carbon dioxide builds up, the blood becomes more acidic, and the lungs are forced to exhale to rid the body of carbon dioxide which then brings the pH back to normal levels.



For the last few minutes of class, we made a list of some of the ingredients found in tacos, and then categorized those food items as carbohydrates, proteins, or fats.  We will dig into this work much more deeply tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 17 (LS1-2):  After making and recording corn plant observations, students actively took notes and shared their understanding of biomolecules.  Glucose is a simple sugar and the key ingredient in cellular respiration, the process organisms use to generate vast amounts of ATP energy.  Sugars are one type of biomolecule.  Our work today was to learn about three major classes of biomolecules: proteins, fats (lipids), and sugars (carbohydrates).  We reviewed the monomers and polymers of each, and then students read pages 328-332 in our textbook and completed the associated worksheet.  The assigned reading is titled Food: Our Body’s Source of Energy and Structural Materials.  Now that students understand the link between photosynthesis (chemical potential energy stored in glucose), cellular respiration (glucose metabolized to transfer the energy in glucose to ATP), and the larger connection with the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, it is time to learn more about how the digestive system makes use of the variety of foods available to us.  It is time to think beyond glucose.

Notes from class:




Wednesday, September 18 (LS1-2): After making and recording corn plant observations, we reviewed the reading from yesterday and focused in on an important group of enzymes responsible for digestion in the human digestive system.  For the remainder of class, students worked with a partner on the Digestive System Gizmo activity packet.

Thursday, September 19 (LS1-2): After making and recording corn plant observations for the final time, students will work with a partner to complete the Digestive System Gizmo activity packet.

Friday, September 20: Students had the entire short Friday class period to work on the Digestive System Gizmo activity packet.  Students were instructed to complete, at a minimum, through Activity B as homework before class on Monday.

Keep Learning!

Watch The Digestive System video by Mr. Anderson at Bozeman Science to learn more about this important area of study!

Week 2

Week 2: September 9-13

Monday, September 9: Signed copies of the safety contract and syllabus are due today.

For class today, we will revisit our work last week on homeostasis.  We will discuss the concepts of positive and negative feedback as they relate to humans, and extend our thinking to plants. (Reminder – please enter heart rate and respiration data on the Google Form so we can analyze the class data tomorrow.)  We began our work with students sharing what they know about the connection between exercise, pulse rate, and respiration rate.  We extended the discussion to include photosynthesis and cellular respiration, connecting all of the ideas together through feedback loops and the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline).  Class notes are shown below.



Our work this week is to further our understanding of how organisms interact with their environment.  For our first experiment of the school year, students will explore variables involved with seed germination and plant growth.  We will determine which variables promote plant growth (positive feedback) and which inhibit plan growth (negative feedback).  Our work today is to begin the process of seed germination by first hydrating Orbeez.  The procedure we followed is shown below:


Tuesday, September 10 (HS-LS1-3):

Class began with an entry task in which students were tasked with constructing a network diagram using 7 vocabulary terms learned so far this year.  After making initial attempts, students worked with their lab table group to optimize their network.  The first team finished drew their network diagram on the white board (pictured below) and the class analyzed it.  Students learned to look for the node with only arrows leaving to determine where to start, and they learned that the arrows point from one term toward the next term in the sequence.


While students were busy drawing network diagrams, Nurse Jessica visited and offered to use a pulsometer for students to obtain accurate pulse readings.  We used the anonymous student data to construct a graph and then calculated the average pulse rate (beats per minute) of all of the students in the class.


Finally, we returned to our Orbeez hydration activity from yesterday.  Students recorded observations of their Orbeez after one day (24 hours) hydrating in water.  Students then rinsed their Orbeez and placed 10 Orbeez in a labeled test tube along with some corn seeds.  Students selected up to 10 seeds to add to their test tube.  Students drew and labeled their initial (Day 0) observations in their notebooks.  Over the next few weeks, students will make daily observations of their corn seeds.


Wednesday, September 11: At the beginning of class, students recorded observations of their corn seeds “planted” in Orbeez.

Next, we constructed a student-generated list of what students know, think they know, or want to know about cells:


Next, we will watch the Harvard BioVisions video Inner Life of a Cell, which presents a realistic animation of how cells move:

After the video, Mr. Peterson guided students through new vocabulary words that they will encounter in an article to be read after working with Mr. P.


The article, titled Facts About Cells, comes from Newsela.  Students will have the option to select one of four different versions of the article, each geared toward a different reading level.  Students will select the version most appropriate for them and then complete the quiz questions at the end of the article.  For students looking for an advanced level text, students may instead read through page 13 of Chapter 1 of Inside the Cell.  The “Got It” questions on page 19 are due tomorrow by the end of class instead of the “quiz” questions from the Newsela article.

Thursday, September 12 (HS-LS1-2): After making and recording corn seed observations, we discussed the articles from yesterday.  Students gathered into groups based on their chosen text levels and discussed the “quiz” questions at the end of the articles.  We used the reading as a basis to construct a model of a cell, with aspects of the model representing a network diagram.  We finished by revisiting photosynthesis and cellular respiration, connecting the mitochondria organelle from our model with ATP from cellular respiration.

Notes from class:



Friday, September 13 (HS-LS1-2):  After making and recording corn seed observations, students will review the types of cells as a class.  When finished, students will read The Breath of Life on pages 236-239 of the BSCS Biology textbook and complete the analysis questions (due Monday).  We will discuss the analysis questions on Monday.

Keep Learning!

Want to learn more about body systems and the specialized cells, tissues, and organs they contain? Review the body systems with Anatomy and Physiology videos from Crash Course!


Week 1

Week 1: September 4-6

Wednesday, September 4: Networking 

To kick off the school year, students will meet the teacher, learn about our classroom, and then complete the Ten Facts About Me survey.  The information they share will help introduce the students to each other and the teacher.  Students will share information about themselves with each other, constructing a network diagram during the process.  The survey and network diagram will be turned in at the end of class.

Thursday, September 5: Human Homeostasis (HS-LS1-3)

Computers are an invaluable tool for modern-day biologists.  We will rely on computer technology frequently this school year as a means to acquire and share knowledge.  For this lesson, students will work with their assigned partner to create free accounts at ExploreLearning.com.  We will periodically utilize the simulations (called Gizmos) on the website.  After both partners have successfully created accounts, students will work together with the assignment of completing Activity A of the Human Homeostasis Gizmo worksheet.  Note: students faced a number of challenges today while working on the Gizmo (too few functioning computers and several student gmail accounts locked) so the Gizmo will not be counted as an assignment.

Friday, September 6: Human Homeostasis (HS-LS1-3)

When class begins, students will review important vocabulary concepts from yesterday’s work with Mr. Peterson.  Next, students will be introduced to our class experiment.  Students will monitor their heart rate and respiration rate (one minute each) on at least three separate occasions today (Friday), tomorrow (Saturday), and Sunday.  Each day, students should record resting rates, rates after light activity, and rates after exercising.  Students will record each data point on this Google Form and we will analyze the class set of data next week.  Finally, students received copies of the class syllabus and safety contract.  Students will read and return both copies on Monday, signed by both the student and a parent or guardian.

Keep Learning!

For students interested in pushing their learning beyond the content learned in class, we can look to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for High School Life Science (HS-LS) for the standards we are investigating and look for assessment boundaries.  The assessment boundary for HS-LS1-3 states: Assessment does not include the cellular processes involved in the feedback mechanism.  This means the WCAS exam students take at the end of their 11th grade year (based on understanding of the NGSS) will include questions that approach the assessment boundary but do not include content at that boundary.  Therefore, students looking to learn at an advanced level should explore content at or beyond the assessment boundary!  The Keep Learning! section located at the end of each week’s post is a great place to get started.  For this week, check out the videos below focusing on  Homeostasis and Negative/Positive Feedback: