Category Archives: Biology

Week 39 – You Made It!

Welcome to Week 39!  You made it!  This will be a year we will all remember. It has been my great pleasure getting to know you this school year and teaching you about science.  You are welcome to turn in any work from 4th quarter (Unit 4, beginning with Week 30) until noon on Friday, June 19.  If you revise an assignment and would like it re-graded, please also re-share the link.

Before you head off into your bright future, please complete the Week 39 Attendance Check-In.  Finally, please consider watching the videos below and use what you learn to re-make our community, our country, and our world for the better.


Week 38 – Fetal Pig Dissection

While not nearly the same experience as dissecting in person, the videos below are the next best thing to learning about the anatomy of an organism with organ systems remarkably similar to humans: pigs!  Watch, learn, and consider following along with the Fetal Pig Dissection Lab guide.

The videos below are recommended but may not be accessible from school district computers due to age-restriction settings.



When finished, return to Week 38 – Dissection Lab and continue working.

Week 38 – Career Exploration: Butcher

Every year when we do dissections, there are always students who are shocked to find out they are absolutely fascinated by anatomy.  In fact, the students who are often the most reluctant before the dissection lab tend to be the most excited about it by the end.  Understanding the anatomy of different animals not only helps us better understand the world around us, it helps us better understand ourselves.  An appreciation of animal anatomy can open our minds to considering a variety of career paths.  Science and Medicine have vast numbers of careers that require varying levels of understanding anatomy: doctors, nurses, veterinarians, dentists, scientists, and all of the technical staff that support them.  But there are so many other careers out there.  Chefs and Head Cooks have to understand how to prepare different cuts of meat.  Butchers are even closer to the source: they are experts in the field of removing meat from a source animal and providing those cuts for us to eat.

It’s important to understand where our food comes from, and to appreciate the people who make it possible for us to eat without having to go out and catch our own food.  In the future, the career of butcher may transform into a career of food scientist specializing in the production of lab-grown meat.  Check out that future career below:

When finished, return to Week 38 – Dissection Lab and continue working.

Week 38 – Dissection Lab

Welcome to Week 38!  For our final lesson of the 2019-20 school year, you will be dissecting a fetal pig…from a distance!  If our school year had not abruptly changed, you would have had the opportunity to dissect a fetal pig during biology class.  With distance learning comes distance dissection.  Let’s get to it!

  1. Week 38 Attendance Check-In (required by 10am 6/12)
  2. Fetal Pig Dissection
  3. Career Exploration: Butcher
  4. NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge: Meatless Mondays

That’s it!  No new assignments this week (spoiler alert: no new assignments next week either).  Please make sure you have everything turned in by June 19.  It has been my absolute pleasure teaching you biology this year.  What a year to remember!

Remember, you can email me any time.  Office hours for Science are Tuesdays from 11am-12pm and Thursdays from 1pm-2pm.  Check your student Gmail for Zoom instructions.

Week 37 – The Origin of Humans

We conclude our study of evolution with at a look at our own evolved humanity.  Watch the video below, focusing your attention on both the evolution-related content as well as on the types of jobs you see people doing.  Can you imagine yourself pursuing any of the careers shown?  After watching the video, complete the Origin of Humans Google Form assignment with questions about the video.  The video is also embedded in the Google Form assignment so you can easily reference it when answering the questions.

Next, it’s time to visit the Australian Museum.  The staff there have assembled an amazing collection of resources to extend your learning about human evolution.  Before you go, here’s the assignment:

  1. Read an article from the collection.
  2. Summarize your learning about the article in the Human Evolution Google Form.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, but with an article from a different group of articles.  For example, if you read an article from the first group (Becoming human), your next two articles must be from other groups (for example, Where do we fit in? and Meet the family).
  4. Click here to visit the museum.
  5. Fill out the Google Form for your articles (worth +10 assignment points each)

When finished, return to Week 37 – Human Evolution and continue working.

Weeks 37 – Human Evolution

Welcome to Week 37!  This week, we will step back in time and learn about the human branch of the evolutionary tree.

Last week was the latest in a long string of really tough weeks for our country.  Rather than try making a light-hearted video introduction, I am simply asking you to visit the Future Voter registration page on the Washington Secretary of State website.  You can register to vote as early as age 16 so you can then exercise your right to vote as soon as you turn 18.  For many of you, turning 16 is still a year or two away.  Remember, you also cast your vote every time you spend money.  You have a choice about where to spend money, so make sure the money you spend is going to people, businesses, and causes that are worthy of your support.  Finally, commit to lifelong learning.  Your high school education is just the beginning.  Please make the most of it.  Education opens doors you may not even realize are there.  Be brave, open all the doors, and keep them open for all who come behind you.  Let’s get to it.

  1. Week 37 Attendance Check-In (required by 10am 6/5)
  2. The Origin of Humans (two Google Form assignments)
  3. The Science of Evolution (optional learning extension – no assigned work)

You did it!  Just to make sure, here’s a checklist of items you must complete this week by Sunday, June 7 at 11:59pm:

  • Week 37 Attendance Check-In (school district requirement)
  • Human Origins Google Form (worth +15 assignment points)
  • Australian Museum Article Summary Google Form (worth +30 assignment points)

Remember, you can email me any time.  Office hours for Science are Tuesdays from 11am-12pm and Thursdays from 1pm-2pm.  Check your student Gmail for Zoom instructions.

Don’t forget to complete the Week 37 Bonus Credit Opportunity!  For a complete list of all of the bonus credit opportunities, bonus assignments, and bonus lab reports offered during distance learning, click here.


Week 36 – What is a Phylogenetic Tree?

Our learning in Week 32 focused on phylogenetic trees.  If you completed the work for that lesson, review your work to get re-acquainted with phylogenetic trees.

You are also encouraged to watch the Bozeman Science video below.  Mr. Anderson explains how to construct a phylogenetic tree (also called a cladogram):

Looking for more background knowledge?  Visit the UC Berkeley Understanding Evolution site and work through the Phylogenetics Tutorial.

Need more help?  Click here for a Phylogenetic Tree Project Example.

Return to Week 36 – Phylogenetic Tree Project and continue working.

Week 36 – Basic Plant Biology

This year, we’ve learned a bit about plants – here are some highlights:

  • The chemical equation for photosynthesis (Week 4) tells us that plants use sunlight energy, carbon dioxide, and water to produce molecules of glucose and oxygen.
  • Plants have a cell wall and remain turgid in a hypotonic solution (Week 8).
  • Plants are producers (Week 12), meaning they are the bridge between the sun (energy) and consumers (animals that need energy).
  • Plants are central to the biogeochemical cycle (Week 14 and Week 15).

Now that we all agree that plants are really important and we wish we could have learned more about them, let’s make the most of our limited time and invest a few minutes learning more about plants:



Seeds are amazing!  They are a little packet of starter nutrients  and information (DNA) – and from a seed you can grow an entire plant which then produces more seeds!  Let’s appreciate the wonder of seeds by watching the video below showing seed germination:



Admit it – you really want to grow some plants now, right?  If you have access to some seeds and some soil, get to it!  If you have access to some scissors and some mint plants, take a cutting, place the cutting in water, wait a week, and your new mint plant will sprout roots and be ready to plant as a new mint plant!  Click here to meet Mr. Swart’s new mint plant starts.  If not, no worries – I’ve got you covered.  Back on April 25, the Swart Family Vegetable Garden was planted with seeds of 40 different types of vegetables.  Our work this week will involve a journey through the garden…

Return to Week 36 – Inferring with Evidence and continue working.

Week 36 – Inferring with Evidence

Welcome to Week 36!  With the school year winding down, it’s time to get outside and explore nature through the lens of evolution.  Our work this week is to use evidence to infer relationships among a variety of vegetable plants commonly found in the garden.  Let’s get to it!

  1. Week 36 Attendance Check-In (required by 10am 5/29)
  2. Basic Plant Biology
  3. Show Me the Veggies!

You did it!  Just to make sure, here’s a checklist of items you must complete this week by Sunday, May 31 at 11:59pm:

  • Week 36 Attendance Check-In (school district requirement)
  • Phylogenetic Tree Project or Dichotomous Key Project (Google Doc, each worth +40 project points – pick one for full credit or complete both for +40 bonus credit)

Remember, you can email me any time.  Office hours for Science are Tuesdays from 11am-12pm and Thursdays from 1pm-2pm.  Check your student Gmail for Zoom instructions.

Don’t forget to complete the Week 36 Bonus Credit Opportunity!

Week 36 – Show Me the Veggies!

The pictures below are of 25 different garden vegetables that were only seeds three weeks ago.  Some plants clearly grow faster than others.  In fact, quite a few seeds have yet to germinate, so this project isn’t quite as big as it could have been!  What project?  I’m glad you asked!  This week, you have a choice.  For either project, you will observe the plants carefully, writing down your observations for each plant in a Google Doc.  Using your observations as evidence, you will either construct a phylogenetic tree or a dichotomous key.  Both are worth 40 project points each.  You must do one, you may do both.  Doing both projects will earn you 40 bonus project points.  Select the project you would like to complete and click on the link below for details.

Brussel Sprout
Romaine Lettuce
Jalapeño Pepper
Roma Tomato
Black Beauty Squash
Purple Top Turnips
Blue Kale
Bush Beans
Swiss Chard
Buttercrunch Lettuce
Iceberg Lettuce
Red Cabbage
Sugar Snap Pea

Return to Week 36 – Inferring with Evidence and continue working.