Weekly Reflection for Week of 04/30/16

Last Hurrah with Plants

Ooops, please don’t hate me for being so late!  We’ve been a little bit AP crazy on this end, and had a vacation week I worked.  Did I mention that MAY 9th IS MY TEST DATE?!?!!?!  That came a little bit quickly.  But I haven’t been exactly good with dates lately so…transpjoke

Okay, how about I get on track?  With transpiration!  (See what I did there? He he!)

This week we performed our last class laboratory and reviewed some concepts that I learned in Biology my sophomore year.  So what transpired?  We looked at transpiration rates in various plants!  Thus being said, this was a Numero Dos, Tres, Cuatro, and Cinco week.

I really enjoyed being able to adjust this experiment instead of everyone doing the same way.  This way we were able to evaluate and compare our own experimental design to that of the other groups.  In my group we chose to use Heuchera Carnival to investigate the effects of heat and light on transpiration rates in the plant, (hey, look, it’s Numero Tres!).  We found that under light and heat there was an increased rate of transpiration, but the statistical T-test said that we couldn’t rule out that it wasn’t due to chance occurrence.  Numero Cuatro told us our hypothesis was right, but Numero Dos told us it was wrong.   Which was a bummer because common sense, you know?  If the sun is out and is evaporating the water out of plant cells, you’d think the plant would transpire more quickly to replenish those water levels.  But, math, so bleh.  We used the right math, it just gave an answer I didn’t like.  Science Numero Dos at work here!

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Yes, Jack, too true.  Based off our quantitative data, we had to ask ourselves what the fudge went wrong, which, again, is Numero Tres.  It really comes down to time and sample size.  We were short on both, so that would mess with the data a bit.  If we had increased sample size we would have better overall data to go off of, and if we increased time we would likely have seen a greater net difference in transpiration rates.  And *wa-lah!* you have Numero Cinco.  A laboratory really does help show the connections between the Science Practices, doesn’t it?

I feel pretty confident going into AP review/test time.  This year has really been a chloro-blast, and I was glad to share my geekiness and adventures with you guys!  I may add another final blog to wrap up everything, but in case I don’t, let me leave off with this.  Heading into this class I was a bit worried that after a year-hiatus from Bio I wouldn’t have the same passion that I found my Sophomore year.  I now know that it’s still there, if not only strengthened by the experiences I have had.  This being my Senior year, in less than three months I’m packing up and heading to a new school to continue my education in a subject I love.  I know that not everyone achieves that in his/her life, so I am extremely thankful to my Bio teacher for the guidance and patience she has given me, (and Lord knows there’s been plenty of that!)  I hope that anyone who has read my journey will find his/her own passion, and will be able to pursue it.  It’s an amazing feeling.

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Permanezcas homeostático,

Jess

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Weekly Reflection for Week of 04/15/16

WARNING!  BLOOD AND GUTS AHEAD!

Preamble:

I didn’t post last week because I had vacation.  ‘Nuff said.

Not going to lie, but this post is going to be rough of those of you who are squeamish.  This is my last warning to you!

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In case you couldn’t tell yet, we performed dissection this week.  And not just once, but twice!  The first time was one we have been expecting since the beginning of the year.  The first day we took the heart and had to “clean it up”, meaning that we had to get rid of the attached tissues, muscles, lungs, bronchial tubes, etc. in order to get just to the heart.  Lungs feel so funny!  They’re squishy but also have tiny grainy pebble-like alveoli sacs in them.  It was cool because my lab station’s heart had all of the extra parts, save the esophagus, which, honestly, I wasn’t too bummed about not having.  The next day we actually opened up the heart, which for me wasn’t as quite as exciting as looking at all of the other parts and seeing how they connected to one another because my sophomore year I dissected a similar deer heart.  So the highlight of this dissection was looking at the connections and being able to navigate the system as well as get handy with some knife skills for the next dissection.

Okay, so here’s another warning.

If the heart stuff didn’t bother you at all, you probably can go on.  But if dissection of mammals bothers you, please turn back.  Leave this post.  You will hate me, and I don’t want that to happen!

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This is my kitty!

 

Okay, so this is where it gets gory.  Just…okay so bacon.  Pigs are bacon, eventually.  And sometimes Mama pig is very fat and confused and accidentally makes bacon by sitting or laying down on her offspring.  And so, instead of throwing away this perfectly good bacon, science finds a way to use it so young students can learn.  And that’s life.

We dissected a piglet.

And I had an easier time distancing myself from dissection of the piglet than I did with the deer heart, which confounds me considering it’s what it is.  The unfortunate thing is that this piglet wasn’t embalmed so while poking around with the scapel we had to make sure we didn’t get the bowels, or the bladder, or the intestines, or the stomach, or the…you get the point.  We did detach the heart-it’s so little!-as well as the tongue in order to look down the mouth into the esophagus.  Another group with the piglet was able to open the skull in order to look at the brain, which was super interesting!  You could see the division of the lobes as well as the sgwiggles and wrinkles of the brain that allow for fast transportation of information.  It was a very hands-on experience, and I enjoyed it.

So, looking back, I’ve discovered I certainly, without doubt, cannot be a surgeon of any type.  Not even a veterinarian.  Sorry, would love to help, but we don’t want one person passed out and the other dead!  Additionally, I don’t want to be a coroner.  Dead bodies are gross, and yuck yuck yuck I can’t even!

I’d most certainly call this a Numero Siete week.  The domains of knowledge we were connecting were the book- and text-knowledge to our real-world application as well as exploring how a specific organ functions in an organism.  In the coming weeks we will be reviewing a lot of content, and it may be a good idea for me to review the laboratories we completed simultaneously with the content so that I get a full, clear picture if how “stuff” works.

 

Permanezcan homeostático,

Jess

Weekly Reflection for Week of 04/08/16

Different Bodily Functions are *kinda* Neat…

As long as you don’t picture them from a living person point of view!  Look, I’m all for getting to know the body on a holistic basis, but believe me when I say I have an issue with bodily fluids.  The one and only time I knowingly had my blood taken I felt like I was going to throw up.  At least this week we were able to get some background information and a heads-up on what’s going on before dissection next week!  As such, I declare this week as a Numero Uño, Cuatro, Seis, and Siete week.  Here’s the link for what these mean, but if you’ve been regularly following, you probably don’t need it.  Alrighty then, let’s jump to it!

Forewarning-this is going to be a little bit icky.  For organization’s sake, I’m breaking this down into Science Practice Numeros sections, (sometimes combinnot by the project.  Continue if you dare.

NUMERO UÑO , CUATRO, AND SEIS

I have no clue how this wouldn’t be considered as a Science Practice this week.  The big project of the week was our Maintenance Physiology Information Sheets in which we were randomly given one topic about the body,

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A diagrammed nephron

(ours was excretion), to research and gather information on to fit onto two sheets.
Excretion, unfortunately, is truly best described in a diagram as a representation of sorts, especially when dealing with the nephron.  Using the internet and books as resources, I felt confident in my ability to understand how the human body deals with the by-products of digestion, and I was able to recreate these processes on my group’s information sheet.  And, believe it or not, by doing this I was also collecting data.  I now can tell you how, exactly, a specific group of cells is signaled via a feedback loop to tell the kidneys to hold in water.  Which is pretty awesome to be the class expert on, if I do say so myself.

NUMERO SIETE

Okay, so sorry I pretty much bundled the top three with one another, but they’re just so similar in this case that it was irresistable!  Numero siete, however, deserves it’s very own domain.  (BIO JOKE ALERT!!!!!!!!!)  This Science practice deals with connecting stuff together, and the excretory system is the PERFECT example for this!  Okay, so I was able to connect my knowledge of cell biology to systems information because of the feedback loop stoich_jokeI mentioned earlier and also because of chemistry!  The flow of the liquids in your kidneys deals a lot with pressure and concentration gradients, so that you’re not mixing your water with your urea when it’s not supposed to be.  Yuck.  I like that I was able to connect these two areas of biology, but I am really fascinated by the biochemical portion of biology and the role it plays in microbiology.  But not to the point of being a biochemist-that is WAY too intense for me, (Stoich woes!)

Next week we will be dissecting hearts and learning more about the vital roles that our different systems okay in keeping us alive and well.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to remember everything because it’s just so…complex.  That’s going to be my next challenge.

Well, that wraps it up for this week homies.  See you around!

Permanezcan homeostático,

Jess

Weekly Reflection for Week of 04/01/16

Project Makes Perfect!

Good evening everyone!  Hope your April is going well, I know mine has so far!  So this past week and right now in class we’re going a little project-crazy, (which I love), which is great in terms of understanding concepts, but not so great in terms of time-management.  Nonetheless, everything was completed, and done so, (in my unbiased opinion, of course), in a perfect manner, naturally.  This makes the week a Numero Uño and Seis one, so let’s jump in!

Three-Spined Sticklebacks

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We did a worksheet and a project with these little buggers.  See the spines on the back of his back?  Well they are an adaptation to the terrors of the salty sea where predators are abound.  During the melting of the ice from the Ice Age, ponds were created in Canada where glaciers once were, and in these ponds populations of sticklebacks were deposited.  Well, there wasn’t a need for the spines anymore, and dragonfly mamas would plant their young on the spines, which would kill the fish, so the spines had to go.  Genetics jump in here, and basically if the regulatory areas are coded and the activators for these areas are around, then yes, the spines will not be phenotypically represented.  In order to understand the mechanism of this, we were divided into groups and created posters showing how the marine fishes genetics varied from the freshwater fishes.  That is what brought us to Science Practice Uño and Seis.  We had to work with this new idea, this theory of how and why the sticklebacks got their spines, in order to be able to represent it with an accurate model.  I missed the end of class one day, which turned out to hurt me because the next day I had trouble jumping right back into what we were working with.  Luckily, my group-mates were there to help me understand what was going on.  Yay teamwork!

I’m going to leave my second project for the next post so that I can better analyze the end-product and it’s reception.  So I suppose I’ll leave this off with one final thought.  I need to make sure I can prioritize and manage my team efficiently so that I not only have enough time to review material but also can balance everything else without going absolutely crazy.  Difficult, I know, but it’s worth it in the end!

Permanezcan homeostático,

Jess

Weekly Reflection for Week of 03/25/16

Finicky Flies and Sex

Yes, I wrote “sex” in my title.  Get over it.  Because I am not talking about what you’re probably thinking about…well I mean you have to have that before you get the sex I’m talking about, but…oh never mind!  The reason I bothered mentioning it was because not all genes follow autosomal recessive inheritance patterns.  In truth, there are  a variety of ways that traits can be inherited in offspring.  One of these ways is that the alleles for the gene are inherited on the XY sex chromosomes of an organism.  And this week, we looked at how sex-linked inheritance works via the bountiful fruit flies.  As such, I’d call this a Science Practice numero Seis week.  (Click here, no, wait, HERE to find out what that means!)

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It’s…so…yellow.

So right now we are muddling ourselves through our genetics unit.  This week we used a sorta-kinda-lab-practical online that was VERY VERY AWESOME to trace geno- and phenotypes in fruit fly families to determine the modes of inheritance various traits use.  I found this very entertaining and started to recognize the pattern of autosomal recessive inheritance based off of phenotypes in the F1 generation.  Even the sex-linkage didn’t throw me too much of a problem; no, it was when I tried to determine the mode of inheritance for body color that really threw me.  The chi-square tests I made for both autosomal recessive and sex-linkage both failed, and by that time I was too exhausted to try another one.  It bothers me to this day that I couldn’t figure that one out…

The good news in this is that the lab served as a benchmark for my chi-square skills.  I feel much more confident than I did before in using the test and various tables associated with it. e, o, e-o, (e-o)², (e-o)²/e, DF, and x² value for comparison!  WHEEEEEEEEEE I FEEL SMAAAHHHHHHHHRTTTTTTT!!!!!!!  The bad news is that 1. I missed two days of class due to a competition I participated in WHICH I DON’T EVEN KNOW THE RESULTS OF and 2. In those two days I missed a quiz which would have further served as a measurement for me to get a feel for how I am doing in this unit academically.  I feel self-assured in my skills, but there’s this nagging thought that I haven’t fully grasped each and every concept, which could really hurt me come AP Biology test time, which is in T-42 days, YIKES!  So moving forward in the next month what I really want to do is to refine and hammer in those skills and the information that I know I’ll be needing to get that perfect “5” on that test…not that I wouldn’t mind taking another year of Biology, haha! 😉  I suppose that I’ll have to do some extra work, such as the practice tests, and this really neat app called “Varsity Tutors” which recreates sample questions from pretty much any standardized test out there.

So that’s it for this go-around.  Here’s a question for you as a wrap up; what are your favorite study habits?  Are you a night-owl with your study hours or a morning bird?  Comment below as you please!

Permanezcan  homeostático,

Jess

Weekly Reflection for Week of 03/18/16

Mendel, Mendel, Mendel, you Crazy, (Lying?), Monk

Buenos tardes my bio pals!  How goes it?  On this end, it’s a bit crazy between college decisions, scholarship work, national tests, extracurriculars, prom,  oh, and a little thing I like to call school.  Because that somehow manages to exist still.  So.

This week it was the week of Mendel.  Well, actually, his work and theorems, really, because who cares about a monk who contributed greatly to the way we predict genotypes and phenotypes of children even though he sorta-kinda-maybe-probably faked all his data but it was sound enough.  You follow?  (If not, click here!)

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For the majority of the week we were focused on learning and applying good ol’ Mendelian mathematics to different genealogy problems, (ie-predicting the chance of offspring traits based from parents), which makes this a Numero Dos and Seis week.  Good math and using and working with explanations and theories, to simplify it for you. PunnettSquare The two go hand-in-hand with Mendel, who predicted the traits of pea plants with his now famous Punnett Squares.  This was exemplified by the BioInteractive packet we completed early-ish in the four day week we had.
My favorite parts of it were when we had to apply the previous information we learned about sickle cell anemia and malaria to our analyses of our Chi-Square Analyses in order to make sense of the data we got as well as when we had to determine which children were likely to have malaria or colorblindness due to the phylogeny tree provided.  Even better was when I got to create my own phylogeny tree for the described families!

The hardest part of this week for me was finishing up the Polymerase Chain Reaction laboratory write-up, mostly in the Chi Square Analysis.  When creating it, I had thought that I had the correct predicted/expected values for my class and Pushtoon, (Afghani), populations.  But when I proudly carried my 14 page lab into class and asked my teacher to just quickly look at the Chi Squares to check for accuracy, my little castle of perfection just kind of crumbled over.  Which really did stink.

The good thing is that I looked over the work and saw where I went wrong exactly.  Additionally, I believe that I have gotten a strong handle over the Mendelian mathematics because the first sheet I did today, (Monday), I felt confident and in control of the math I had to use in order to get the right answers to the questions.  Overall, it’s a much better position than what I felt I was in last week.

There’s not much more I think you’d like me to detail you in on.  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the slowly but surely Spring coming!  Until next time!

Permanezcan homeostático,

Jess

 

Weekly Reflection for Week of 03/11/16

Biotechnology Rules!

Really, it does.  Albeit I am partial; I’ll expand on that in a bit.  And I know, I know, it’s Tuesday!  But take DST to the extreme, (ahem, 24 hrs-ish), and you’ll find that I’m so on time.

This week we had what I’m pretty sure will go down as the lab of the year for AP Bio-PCR amplification.  Not only did we get to see samples of DNA run down through an agarose gel during electrophoresis, but we also analyzed it.  This may seem kind of exciting but also somewhat boring except one itsy, bitsy, key detail.

The genetic samples were our own.

That’s right, I got to analyze my own DNA to see whether or not I had a certain gene.  (Turns out I don’t have it-pooey).  And because of this, I’m going to call this week a Science Practice numero Tres, Cuatro, Cinco, and Siete.

So, numero tres was accomplished by asking a VERY scientific question;

What is the frequency of the alu insertion gene in the AP Biology class?

Check.  Done.  Move on, because this question was the motivation factor for EVERYTHING this week.

Numero Cuatro was the absolute biggest portion and scientific practice of the week.  During our lab we had to collect the data by performing a procedure with no mistakes, or else the data would be skewed.  And that would really stink considering we don’t have wiggle room for extra runs.  That being said, I have to toot my own horn.  I felt very confident and well-practiced with the lab.
woman_microbiologist.jpgI was worried the night before our first day that my hands would shake too much, or that I would mislabel or confuse samples, but I didn’t.  In fact, I kind of led my lab station through the process, a situation I definitely didn’t find myself too often in my Sophomore year of Biology.  I helped build confidence in my classmates with their abilities to use the Biotech, and in doing so I built up my own confidence.  It’s really cool, actually, to experience something like that.  But don’t be mistaken-I WILL NEVER be a high school teacher if I can avoid it.

Numero cinco was accomplished once our DNA bands appeared in the agarose gels.  From here we were able to determine whether or not we had the alu insertion in our DNA.  I was really glad that my lab station partner in crime was with me because the lab station across  of us had a DNA sample that didn’t show up, and I claimed that it meant that the person who the sample came from didn’t have the insertion.feud_x.jpg  If not for my partner, I would have incorrectly maintained this assumption, and potentially have influenced others into thinking the same.  After this, we analyzed the data, (correctly!), and found that neither one of us had the insertion.  One of our station mates, however, did, and he was one of the two homozygous dominant samples in the class population.  ¡Que incredíble!

Moving forward I hope that in our Mendel genetics unit I will be as successful in the math as I was with handling the biotechnology in this lab.  In truth, it will take a careful eye and self-encouragement, two things that in general I could work on.  Well, I suppose that’s it for this week!  Until next time!

Permanezan homeostático,

Jess