Category Archives: Cells


Ever wonder why humans spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping?  Watch the PBS NOVA episode Mysteries of Sleep and learn the answer to that question and more!

Learn more about the connection between adenosine, caffeine, and sleep by watching the TedEd video below:


Turn it up to 11!

  • Create a sleep journal.  Think about the factors that might impact your sleep each day, then track those along with how much sleep you get each night.  Which factors seem to affect your sleep?  Which factors don’t seem affect your sleep?  Add and remove factors to help you dial in on how to get the best possible sleep each night.
  • Create a dream diary.  Record your dreams upon waking.  Write them down, draw them out, or narrate them into your phone.  Notice any trends or patterns?  How often are you able to recall your dreams?  Does your ability to remember your dreams correlate with how long or how well you sleep?  Does the content of your dreams correlate with your past, present, or future experiences?  Do you have recurring dreams?
  • Learning to remember. Feeling tired after a long day of learning at school?  Try a Power Nap and see whether it helps you remember what you learned during the day.  Are you more efficient at completing homework before or after a Power Nap?

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!


Unit 1 Wrap-up

To conclude Unit 1, students received back Day 2 of the exam and we graded it together as a class.  Students then received Day 1 of the exam (already teacher-graded) and a Unit 1 Exam Reflection worksheet.

Next, students conducted a peer review of another student’s Egg Lab report and provided feedback using the Egg Lab Report Peer Review Form.  Students used the remainder of the class period to revise their own lab reports using the feedback received.  All Egg Lab reports are due no later than Wednesday, November 1.  Students may submit a paper copy, email a copy, or ideally share a copy using the “Share” button in Google Docs.

Egg Lab Day 4 / Class Results

The egg lab concluded with students receiving the following instructions:

  1. Gently rinse and dry egg
  2. Measure and record the final mass
  3. Discard the egg and cup
  4. Calculate the change in mass of the egg

To calculate the change in mass, students were instructed to subtract the initial mass (measured yesterday) from the final mass (measured today).  A positive change means the egg gained mass.  A negative change means the egg lost mass.  Students reported out their data (shown below), and then we discussed the movement of water across the membrane of eggs placed in various solutions (final picture below).

Period 1 Class Data
Period 4 Class Data
Period 6 Class Data
Membrane Movement

Egg Lab Prelab / Membrane Movement

Looking ahead to Monday (when we begin the egg lab), students were tasked with writing a procedure for the following objective: Remove the shell from an egg using only vinegar.  Sitting with their new table partners (new seating chart today!), students wrote out a list of steps to dissolve the egg shell.  We then compiled a class procedure (pictured below):

After the procedure writing, students worked with their new partner to complete the assignment below using the knowledge gained from yesterday’s lesson on how to identify credible scientific sources.

Osmosis Gizmo

For today’s Osmosis Gizmo activity, complete the following steps:

  1. Go to the Explore Learning website.
  2. Click the Login/Enroll button (upper right).
  3. Select Biology from your list of classes.
  4. Launch the Osmosis Gizmo.
  5. Complete the “Observing osmosis” worksheet with a partner.
  6. If time permits, work through the “Effect of cell volume” worksheet.

For students who have not yet created an account:

  1. Enter the class code (written on the white board).
  2. Click the Enroll in Class button.
  3. Choose “I need to create…” option.
  4. Enter your First and Last name (not email!)
  5. Use your student numer (s-#######) as your username.
  6. Enter birthdate as password (MMDDYYYY)
  7. Click “Submit”
  8. Launch the Osmosis Gizmo.
  9. Complete the “Observing osmosis” worksheet with a partner.
  10. If time permits, work through the “Effect of cell volume” worksheet.

Cell Membranes

After a week of re-learning cell organelles and observing cells under the microscope, today students learned about how the cell membrane works.  The primary focus of the lesson was to provide students with the vocabulary to explain the concepts of osmosis and transport of water across the membrane via the membrane protein channel aquaporin.  Students should review the Membrane Functions PowerPoint slide deck and commit the vocabulary terms to memory.  The aquaporin claymation video included in the slide deck is also provided below for easy access:

Cell Organelle Network

Our study of cell organelles intersected with our previous unit’s work with drawing systems when students were tasked with constructing a network diagram with cell organelles as nodes.  For edges, students had to explain how two organelles interacted with each other.  For full credit, pairs of students had to include all of the nodes in the network, with each organelle (node) connected to another organelle via at least one edge.  The list of organelles came from the organelle flash cards students made on September 27.  Students were able to use their flash cards, the Inside the Cell book (available via the computer), the Cell Structures Gizmo (from September 28), or they could research online as long as the resources they were using to construct their network were scientifically credible.

The picture below represents how the activity was set up, with three edges provided to all students at the launch of the activity.

Microscope Observations

Class began with a brief entry task asking students to recall the parts of the microscope.  Students learned (or re-learned from 8th grade) the parts of the microscope in the Gizmo from yesterday.

Next, for our first lab of Unit 1, students observed and made observations about various sections of plant and animal tissues under the microscope.  Participation credit was received for students who sketched a sample, added color to the section drawn, and who labeled the visible organelles contained in a representative cell within the section.  Students also needed to write down the name of the sample they observed and the magnification at which the observation was made.

Students were provided with the template below to organize the work of the members in their group.  Each team member was responsible for filling in at least one quadrant of the paper.  The work was due at the end of class and credit was received by students who completed the assignment as described above.

Cell Structures Gizmo

For today’s Gizmo activity, complete the following steps:

  1. Go to the Explore Learning website.
  2. Click the Login/Enroll button (upper right).
  3. Enter the class code (written on the white board).
  4. Click the Enroll in Class button.
  5. Choose “I need to create…” option.
  6. Enter your First and Last name (not email!)
  7. Use your student numer (s-#######) as your username.
  8. Enter birthdate as password (MMDDYYYY)
  9. Click “Submit”
  10. Launch the Cell Structure Gizmo
  11. Complete the Student Exploration worksheet