Saturday, October 10, 2015

Genes, Guts, and Tiny Things

This week and last week in Karl's class we have been continuing our study of DNA and inheritance.  Students were assigned "arranged marriages" with a partner, and then used coin flips to determine the dominant or recessive genetic traits that they passed on to their imaginary children. They then drew pictures of their offspring based on the traits that they inherited.  Lindsay and Margaret show off their son "Timothy" below.  We will continue to work on genetics to accumulate the knowledge and skills they need to do some future work with fruit flies. 
In Chris's class we took some time to check out some new field microscopes I recently purchased for the lab.  These nifty devices provide some decent magnification and their own LED light source, but are small, light, and cheap enough to take out into the classroom and outside, where Chris plans to use them for outdoor studies.  We learned how to use them, and examined a number of prepared slides of bacteria and insect parts that we have in the lab, as well as samples that the kids brought in from outside.  Live aphids were a big hit!  

Both Chris and Spencer's class are collecting specimens to place into our "Fungus Garden".  More information about that next week, so stay tuned!

In Spencer's class this week we have been working on engineering and problem solving using an activity moving water from one location to another using only a limited set of materials.  Kids who have done this activity before with Spencer last year had the added difficulty of performing the task blind folded.  More about that from Spencer's blog.

In the 5th and 6th grade this week we continued with our study of the human digestive system.  We watched live camera footage inside a real human digestive tract, made artificial stomachs complete with gastric enzymes that we churned while we were watching, and attempted to experience the chemistry of starch turning to sugar by chewing saltine crackers a r-e-a-l-ly looooonnnng time.  This multisensory experience seemed to be a class favorite.

In Fish Lab this week and last, we took a field trip to Fish Doctors to get ideas for our aquariums and find intriguing fish species.  The kids have now researched and chosen the type of fish they want to have, and added a background to their tank appropriate for the type of fish they have chosen.  Next week we will set up hardware and at last get some water in those tanks!  The next step will be encouraging the bacteria that work behind the scenes to make a tank healthy.

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