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.
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.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
We began the week by going over the transcription vodcast in class and discussing it within our groups. We also received another packet on DNA that we worked through with our groups as well. The packets were on the same topics as the vodcast and had to do with structure, replication and translation. DNA structure was more review than anything based on what we had already learned in advanced bio about the nucleotides and the 3’ to 5’ structure. The replication portion was a little bit more new and the experiments that we learned about we didn't get as in depth with last time. The use of different isotopes of nitrogen was new for me but it did give us deeper insight on what happened when they discovered how DNA worked. Transcription is probably the most complex part with all the different enzymes and specifics. Also it's different for some cells than others which will probably make it more confusing on a test or quiz. With some studying and focus I can probably do fine on the material we receive. The later part of the week was spent on our playdough modes of translation and transcription. Dennis and I used the different colors to represent different nucleotides and the shape maker to represent our enzyme. The colors were made into balls and used to code for our gene that made you not have a cleft chin. The DNA sequence was made using a random generator with a start and stop at the ends. We laid out the sequence and made a type of slideshow where the DNA was read and then the RNA was read at the ribosome and made into a protein. The class should have theirs done by Monday and we will most likely be able to watch them all then. The hands on piece of that project should help me to hold onto the information a bit better than usual.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
The week began with or midterm which we had to get a 50 on in order to receive or quarter averages for our grade. After the grades came back, I did credit recovery on the ones that I got wrong in order to get back credit for the third quarter test grade. We began the official school week a group project where we had to decide if Jeff was related to a family using DNA testing. There were four figures shown in the packet we received and we had to see if the bands that were given matched up with the mother and the father as well as Jeff. Our group found out in the end that Jeff was not related to family H and made a powerpoint discussing the problems that we found in the testing. This was a good intro to the DNA unit that we are moving into and showed how small differences in coding and DNA strands can mean something big, like not being a child. This also shows that multiple DNA tests need to be run in order to make a good guess on relation. The next thing we did was disco the two vodcasts that we had done on DNA throughout the week. The only part that we haven't studied in class yet is how the transcription occurs in the cells and how proteins are made from the strands. We also got packers on DNA as well that we worked through at our lab stations in order to further our understandings of the concepts. Next week we will disco the transcription vodcast and discuss the vodcast as a whole with all its parts. DNA is a difficult concept so I'll need to study in order to retain it all.