Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This week was the final period of class time that was all set aside for work on our Genius Hour projects. I added a few different mammals to my list of domesticated ones in order to beef up my research base a little bit more and also make it possible to make connections during the presentation. I also attempted to find any facts that I could that would help to disprove any myths about domestication or taming, mainly how they are different. I added that portion to the horse slides because of the fact that wild horses are often tamed and used like a domesticated horse would be. The lack of genetic differences is very important to notice and is the only reason the two animals are different. I now have to just add the research that I have been conducting to the PowerPoint and make it look neat and presentable for the class. I will also rehearse some of the lines or slides that I will be reading so I don't just stand and look at the board the whole time. I also will need to add more on the process of domestication as well as the artificial selection portion of the slide show.

This week we were doing or last batch of new information of the year and most of it was based upon communities and ecosystems as well as neurons. On monday we looked at neuron structure in class and went over how they communicate with one another and travel across the body. I learned something I did not know, even with my past knowledge of neurons from psychology, that the neurons from the bottom of our legs can run all the way up to our spine. I had no idea that a cell that long existed within the human body and could produce such a fast response. For homework we also had to watch a video on communities and ecosystems and answer a few questions about the video as well. We also began to do our transpiration lab lab and presentations this week, ours being based upon whether or not the stem cells in a plant with a leaf and without a leaf would act the same and still take up water. What we found was that without a leaf the cells within the plant would not open their stomata to take up as much water. This and other findings will be put on our poster and presented next week along with all the other lab groups. At the end of the week we also finished up our last ecosystems video.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This week has been totally focused on the research portion of our Genius Hour. I’ve been looking up the dates of domestication of the majority of the mammals. The power point I’m making will be in chronological order and have facts about the method of domestication and where it happened in the ancient or modern world. It seems so far the the majority of the animals were domesticated in the Middle East or in Southeast Asia. There were a few that were domesticated in South America such as the llama and alpaca. The first animal to be domesticated was the dog about 20,000 years ago in Eastern Europe. Humans didn’t have to actively attempt to domesticate the gray wolves that became modern dogs because in the cold climate humans and wolves were traveling with one another after the packs of animals moving across the snow. Later in the week I began to look at cats which were first domesticated in the Middle East specifically Egypt. The cats lived near humans because of the amount of mice that the grain storage and other foods attracted to the cities. Next week I’ll focus on the larger animals such as cows and then move to the more recent animals.
Last week I wasn’t in biology very often because of all the AP testing that was going on. At the beginning of the week we had the biology test in the morning so all of us missed class. The test went very well and I felt confident about almost all of the questions including the free response, even though I felt a bit rushed with the amount of time we had. AB Calculus was the next test that week so I wasn’t able to make it to class again. That day the independent Genius Hour projects were introduced and people began to look for topics. On Wednesday I was able to make it in and begin looking for a topic to focus on. The first day and a half or so were spent just listening to ideas and try to come up with some on my own unsuccessfully. By the end of the week I was able to narrow my topic down to domesticated animals, a topic that has interested me for awhile. The topic was a bit broad because of the fact that plants, animals and insects have all been domesticated by humans. I decided to focus on the mammals that have been domesticated because dogs and cats seemed a lot more interesting than silkworms or trees. I began to add to a power point and collect notes on the animals for a little while on Friday.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dissecting the deer hearts was probably the most exciting and enjoyable thing that we have done in biology all year. The fact that every pair had there own made it a lot better to because then there was no waiting around for your turn to cut or look and you could just get right to it. With that being said however, getting down to it seemed a bit unguided and I was worried that I would do something wrong or mess up an important part because of lack of directions. If we had a packet like the one we received but with a few more steps or incisions to make would have been helpful. The heart in the middle of the room with other organs attached was also a great part of the lab because it put the areas that the large arteries and veins came and went from into perspective. The lungs were really cool to look at and often times we don't dissect the lungs, instead focusing on the heart or brain, in science classes so it was good to see them. If it was possible to have each pair get a heart next year as well, I think that would be the most important part to keeping it enjoyable and educational. I would be willing to collect more for next year and get them into your class somehow in order to make that possible. Hopefully we will be able to make that possible.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last week we started on Monday by going over a vodcast that we had due over vacation. Some of the questions for this one were a bit hard to find so it was important to get your whole group’s opinion on them. I think that viruses are a pretty interesting topic though because they are not definitely life, but they are not surely not life either. This part of the unit should be fun to go over in class and learn about. We also received the packet for the lab that we did on Tuesday and Wednesday. The lab began by doing a mouth rinse with salt water to get cheek cells. We them had to use those cells to get our DNA and amplify it using PCR. On Tuesday we got as far as putting the tubes into the PCR chamber. Wednesday began with us taking our amplified DNA and mixing it with dye. Then the dyed DNA was added to the gel electrophoresis machine. This took awhile to run so we had to wait until Thursday to look. I missed Thursday but my group told me that my band showed up on the gel and I did not have the insert. On Friday we took our class data and viewed it online compared to many other populations around the world. The lab was definitely the most interesting part of the week and I was excited that mine worked when some others didn't. It would be nice to look at some other genes that we may or may not have.

Cancer Activity

The two days of class that we spent on studying the genetic causes of cancer really showed me just how easy it can be to have a gene mutate and start causing problems inside of you. With how many base pairs our genome has, even with how accurate replication is, there is bond to be a mistake in one of the genes that helps with cell fate, cell survival or gene maintainance. What I wasn't expecting to see was how some chromosomes have so many more genes that can cause cancer than others. Chromosome 17 for example had a ton of genes labeled on it that could cause cancer and it seemed as if almost 75% of the class had a mutated gene from that chromosome on their cancer card. The opposite can be said as well with some chromosomes have as few as three genes that could cause cancer within, at least that was all that had been discovered. From watching the video it was also nice to learn that the 140 or so types of cancers that we know about, there won't be many more added to that tally. The number of types of cancers is not going to infinitely increase, instead the amount found will slowly increase until it hits a number around maybe 200. I was surprised by the high frequency of the TP53 gene that helped with cell survival as well. Three of the four people in my lung cancer group had the gene on their card and many others around the room also had it on their cards as well. One gene contributing to so many kinds of cancer shows just how important some are. Also the varying number of mutated genes in a cancer patient was also strange. Some people had only two genes that were messed up while other had all the way up to five. It makes me wonder if people who have less mutated genes have a better chance of surviving their type of cancer or if the people with low and high amounts have the same chances. This activity also made me feel a bit better knowing that we do have all this information on cancer and the studies we found on the second day show how far we have come with identifying and treating it.