12/21/10

Tuesday/Wednesday December 21st/22nd

Since students are finishing up and turning in assignments tomorrow, this is an update for today and tomorrow.

7th Grade

Students are finishing up their The Organ Trail WebQuest assignments. They are due tomorrow at the end of class.

6th Grade

Students are finishing the four posters from the Phases of the Moon WebQuest and the textbook assignment. They are due tomorrow at the end of class.

Mars Class

Almost half of the students were not in class (most were playing in the orchestra during 6th grade lunch). I felt it would be better to put off activities until most of the class was there.

We finished the Roving Mars DVD and started watching Traveler's Guide to the Planets - Mars.

Update 12/22/2010


Students began working on a cratering activity - What Can Craters Tell Us About A Planet?

12/20/10

Monday, December 20th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students worked on their two assignments from The Organ Trail WebQuest. These two assignments are:

1st Assignment

As a body organ, you are an employee of the Human Body Corporation. Due to recent cost increases, the Human Body is having to fire workers. You need to write a letter to the Human Body Corporation defending your position in the company. In your letter, you need to describe to the corporation the following characteristics of your organ and explain why you are important to the Human Body Corporation.

1. Tell what the name of your organ is and where you are located.
2. Identify what systems of the body you work with.
3. Describe how you work with these systems.
4. List the other organs that work with you in your system.
5. Describe your main functions as a Human Body organ.
6. Tell the corporation how you perform these functions.
7. Tell the corporation why you are important and why they should not fire you. Explain what might happen to the Human Body Corporation if they fired you.

You will read your letter to the Human Body Committee (the rest of the class). Along with your letter, you will need to have a photograph (labeled drawing) of your organ to use as a visual aid.

2nd Assignment

Your assignment is to share the information you have discovered by completing a Wanted poster. Here’s the assignment and what is required on the poster.

• 8½ x 11 sheet of paper: any color.
• The word “Wanted” at the top of your paper.
• A drawing of your organ.
• Which organ system contains your organ?
• What is your organ’s main function(s)?
• How does your organ work to keep your body healthy?
• Can a person live without your organ?

These will be due by Wednesday.

6th Grade

Students worked on the following assignments:

Students also had the chance to retake the constellations test. I was disappointed the so many students didn't take a study guide and retake the test. In one class, about half the class had at least one score 2.3 or below. No student in that class studied for the retake.

All I can do is offer students the opportunity to retake the test. As I told them, it makes no sense to retake a test when you got a low score without studying before you retake a test.

Mars Class

Students presented their results from Activity #5 - Did Wind Create Features on Mars? While all groups did well, one in particular did a fantastic job. They explained how they examined pictures of Mars's surface and used them to compare with their results when they below air over a sandy surface. They pointed out features on those pictures that matched features on their sand. I was very impressed with their work.

I had hoped to begin the next activity, but I was not able to get to the cabinets that held the supplies I needed. The Student Council has stored all donations to the New Hope Crisis Center in my classroom. Unfortunately, the cabinets were surrounded by bags and boxes. There was no way I could get to them. Tomorrow the donations will be delivered, so we will be doing the next activity.

Students watched a great DVD - Roving Mars. It is about the Mars Rovers - Spirit and Opportunity.

12/19/10

Friday, December 16th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students received a presentation from our counselors about suicide prevention.

6th Grade

Students continued to work on the phases of the Moon posters.

While they worked on their posters, I showed The Universe - The Day the Moon Was Gone. The episode discussed how, without the Moon, the Earth's tilt would not be stable. The Moon's gravitation is why its so stable. Tides caused by the Moon slow the Earth's rotation. With a shorter day, weather would be a major concern. Winds would constantly blow, wind speeds would be higher, storms would be more severe. It's interesting to see how the Moon has affected Earth.

Mars Class

Students worked on an activity, Did Wind Create Features on Mars? Sand is put in a wall paper tray. It is covered with clear plastic wrap. Students poke a hole in the plastic wrap with a straw and blow on the sand. They observe shapes and pattern made by their "wind" and compare it to pictures on Mars. They identify ways wind is responsible for features we see on Mars.

12/16/10

Thursday, December 16th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students finished their research for the assignments in The Organ Trail WebQuest. Tomorrow we'll be back in class and students will be working on the two assignments.

6th Grade

Students began working on their phases of the Moon posters.

Mars Class

Students finished looking at the rocks they got at the University of Utah Tuesday.

It's amazing how different the rocks look when you see them magnified. The whole nature of the surface of the rock changes. You start to understand how complex a simple rock can be.

12/15/10

Wednesday, December 15th (Early Out)

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on The Organ Trail WebQuest. I'm hoping tomorrow will be their last day in the computer lab.

6th Grade

Students finished work on the Phases of the Moon WebQuest yesterday.

Since today was early out, I decided that students wouldn't really have enough time to start working on the posters. We watched Space Station, a DVD about the International Space Station.

I posted the proficiency levels from the constellations unit final. Students will be able to retake the test on Monday or Tuesday of next week. Before students will be able to retake the test, they have to spend time studying. I have made available review notes for students to study. The notes have to be signed as proof the student studied. I do this because it makes no sense to me to allow a student to retake a test (to raise a score) without having spent some time studying for the retake.

Mars Class

I mentioned students were able to bring home rocks from their field trip. Today we began examining the rocks. Students are using their eyes, a magnifying glass, and stereo microscopes to study their rocks. They are then writing their observations.

Tuesday, December 14th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued researching information for The Organ Trail WebQuest.

6th Grade

Students finished their research for the Phases of the Moon WebQuest assignments.

Mars Class

We spent the afternoon at the University of Utah.

Our afternoon began with a presentation from Dr. Marjorie Chan. She talked to us about the similarities between Earth and Mars. We are fortunate to have an area like Southern Utah so close. Much of Southern Utah can be studied and compared to the geological features on Mars. She stated that "The public lands of the Colorado Plateau offer all of us a chance to see remarkable features that help us better understand the red planet Mars.” An example that she shared with us were concretions on Earth and Mars. "Geologists believe these formed underground perhaps some 25 million years ago, when flowing groundwater leached iron that cemented some of the sandstone into these hard, erosion-resistant balls." (Thursday Earth to Mars)

The first two pictures are pictures from Earth. You can see these balls on Earth. Compare those to the second set of pictures. These are the same type of balls on Mars. (They were called blueberries by the Mars Rover Opportunity team because they looked like blueberries in a muffin.)



Earth (Southern Utah) (photos from BLM website)


Mars (Photos from Opportunity Rover)

We took a tour of the new Sutton Geology Building. This is a state-of-the-art geology building. It was designed to not only host the geology department but also be educates students and visitors.

They had numerous examples of different types of rocks and fossils throughout the building. They showed students equipment. My favorite was two spectrometers. They weighed over a ton and cost over $700,000. This allows major work to be done on campus and not having to be sent to other universities or labs. It as a very impressive building.

Sutton Geology Building (source forum.skyscraperpage.com)

We saw the new seismic center. They had a sensor right outside the room. Class members jumped, and you could see the resulting "shaking" on the digital seismometers.

I think the highlight of the visit was being able to go through their rock pile and talk home samples of different types of rocks.

It was a great afternoon. Students had a chance to learn about geology and both Earth and mars I think it gave them a better appreciation of what they will be doing in class over the next nine weeks.

12/13/10

Monday, December 13th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began working on The Organ Trail WebQuest. Students are gathering information about an organ. With that information, they will do the following...

Write a letter (as that organ) explaining why human resources should not lay it off.
Make a "Wanted" poster showing why this organ is important.

6th Grade

Students began working on the Phases of the Moon WebQuest. Students are collecting information to make posters explaining why the Moon changes appearance throughout a month.

Mars Class

We completed Activity #3 - What Can We Learn From Images? Students compare Earth and Mars images, identifying similarities and differences between Earth Mars.

12/11/10

Friday, December 9th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students finished work on their Organ Systems Workbook. This completes the basic review of the basic structure of an organism (cell - tissue - organ - organ systems - organism).

6th Grade

Students took the Constellations Unit Final Exam. While I was basically pleased with the scores, a number of students struggled with the concept of why we see different constellations at different times during the year.

I'll be working on review material for students. They will have to do the review assignments before they can re-take any portion of the test. I'll post it on my website and here once it's complete.

Mars Class

We completed Activity #2 - What Are Satellite Images? Students are learning the importance of making observations but not coming to conclusions.

A few students identified the body of water in the photo above as a "lake." As we discussed this, I pointed out that we don't know that it's a lake just from looking at the picture. A better description would have been "a body of water." (The picture is the Pacific coast of Canada.)

Students overall are making great progress learning how to analyze pictures.

12/9/10

Thursday, December 9th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their Organ System Workbook.

Whey they have completed the workbook, their next assignment is the Cardiac 100. Students research how blood moves through the heart, lungs, and body. Using that information, they make a "race track" showing the path the blood follows.

6th Grade

We wrapped up our constellations unit today. Students played a game called Star Spill (found on pg. 17 in the constellation workbook). Students were timed to see how long it takes to make a constellation using a card and oyster crackers. Students completed twelve different constellation. The student in the group that made the constellations the quickest won. It was a good constellation review activity.

Students will take the constellations unit final exam tomorrow.

Next week we will begin our phases of the Moon unit. Students received the only homework assignment I give. Beginning tomorrow, students will look at the Moon each day and draw a picture of it on their worksheet. This will give them the opportunity to see how the moon changes over the next twelve days. It will be due on Wednesday, December 22nd.

Mars Class

We completed Activity #1 and began Activity #2 - What Are Satellite Images?

Students first draw picture of the classroom. Students share their drawings, showing the "perspective" of their picture. Most students drew the picture from the "birds-eye view" (looking down at the classroom from the ceiling.

Students compared this to satellite photos of Earth. After looking at the photos, they began listing features they could see on the photos.

12/8/10

Wednesday, December 8th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began working on their Organ Systems Workbook. This gives students the opportunity to get an overview of organs/organ systems in the body.

6th Grade

Student worked on the the Orion Constellation Model (pg. 15) in their Constellation Workbook. The purpose of this activity was to make a model of Orion using beads and thread. Students tied a bead to a piece of thread. They then measured the thread a certain length to represent the distance of the star from Earth. When they were done, they had seven stars on different lengths of thread. This demonstrated that stars are different distances from Earth (even though they all look like they're the same distance).

Here's a diagram that looks something like what the model students completed.

Mars Class

We finished our first activity - Getting Started in Mars Exploration. We finished reviewing Image Set 1. This gives student a chance to learn how to look a photographs and analyze them, looking for specific things (did water produce this; what do the craters tell me; etc.).

12/7/10

Tuesday, December 7th

Here's what we did today.

7th Hour

Students finished the osmosis experiment Honey I Shrunk the Carrots. Students placed a carrot in plain water and a carrot in a salt water solution. A string was tied around each carrot. When they checked the carrot today, what they found was the carrot place in water expanded because water entered the carrot. The carrot in the salt water solution shrank because water left the piece of carrot and entered the salt water solution.

The last part of our cells unit deals with levels of organization. The levels of organization are:

  • Cell
  • Tissue (a group of cells that perform a similar function)
  • Organ (a group of tissues that perform a similar function)
  • Organ system (a group of organs working together to perform specific functions)
  • Organism
Today, students received the initial lecture explaining this information.

6th Grade

Students finished up their Adopt-a-Constellation presentations. Most students also presented their created constellations and myths to the class.

Mars Class

We continued working on the Getting Started in Mars Exploration activity. After students finished looking at the Mars images, we began discussing them in class.

12/6/10

Monday, December 6th

Here's what we did today.

6th Grade

Students presented their Adopt-a-Constellation assignment to the class.

Their next assignment is Should Uncle Fred Be in the Sky, pg. 10 in the constellations workbook. For this assignment, they create a constellation (a person or animal). Then, they write a myth explaining how it got placed in the sky. They will present their constellation and myth to the class.

7th Grade

Students did the following labs in the workbook.

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Carrot - This is a two day experiment. Students place a carrot in water and a carrot in a salt water solution (after tying a string tightly around the carrot). It will sit overnight and students will look at their results tomorrow.
  • Hocus Pocus Osmosis - Through the Water Cup - Students make a salt water solution in a cup. They place parchment paper (representing the cell membrane) over the cup using a rubber band. It is turned upside down and placed in a plate of green colored water. After sitting there for a while, students should have seen the colored water move through the parchment paper and into the cup. This is because the water concentration outside the cup is greater than the water concentration inside the cup. Water always moves from high to low.
  • Hocus Pocus Osmosis - The Cup Runneth Over - Students fill a cup with split peas. The cup is then filled with water and placed, upside down, on a plate. After about twenty minutes, students see that the cup has been lifted up and the peas are easy to see. Once again, this demonstrates osmosis. The water moves from the highest concentration into the lowest (the split peas). As the peas absorb the water, they expand. This is why the cup is lifted.

Mars Class

Students began a new activity - Getting Started in Mars Exploration. Students are given sixteen images of Mars. They look at the image, and answer questions asked about the image. The purpose of this activity is for students to learn how to analyze photos from space probes.

12/1/10

Thursday December 2nd & Friday December 3rd

I will be gone Thursday and Friday. There will be a substitute both days.

7th Grade

Students are currently doing lab activities dealing with osmosis and diffusion. Because I will be gone, students will not be able to continue working on experiments until Monday. I have come up with some alternate assignments.

On Thursday, students will be reading and summarizing science articles. The ability to read something and summarize it for others is an important skill students will need in the future.

On Friday, students will watch an episode of Planet Earth - Pole-to-Pole. This is the first episode in the series.

6th Grade

Students will be working on their Constellations Workbook Thursday and Friday. Here are their assignments for the two days...

  • Read pgs. 1-2 and answer questions on pgs. 3-4. This assignment has already been made. Students will be given more time to complete the assignment.
  • Complete worksheet pg. 5. This worksheet helps students understand why we see different constellations throughout the year.
  • Complete pgs. 6-8. Students will be making and learning how to use a star finder. Using the star finder, students will identify four constellations seen during each seasons.
  • Adopt-a-Constellation pg. 9. If students complete the other assignments, they will begin to work on the adopt-a-constellation assignment. Students are assigned a constellation and given a fact sheet. They complete the worksheet on pg. 9 and prepare to give a presentation about their constellation to the class.
I don't expect students to complete all the assignments over the two days so we'll pick up where they left off on Monday.

Mars Class

Today, students told me that they need Thursday and Friday to continue working on their Mars WebQuest. They will be in the computer lab finishing up the assignment.

Wednesday, December 1st

Here's what we did today:

7th Grade

Students completed two experiments from their workbook.

  • Time for Tea - this was a demonstration of both osmosis and diffusion. Students placed a tea bag in hot water and observed it for ten minutes. Osmosis occurred when water entered the dried tea (water moving from the highest concentration [the water] to the lowest concentration [the dried tea]). Diffusion occurred as the tea began spreading out in the water. It started concentrated around the tea bag and eventually spread through the cup.
  • Spineless Potatoes - this was a demonstration of osmosis. A slice of potato was placed in distilled water. A second slice was placed in salt water. Students observed the potato for twenty minutes. Students should have found that the potato in the salty water lost water (the concentration of water in the potato was higher than the concentration of water in the salt water). The potato in the fresh water should have gained more water (the concentration of water in the distilled water is greater than the concentration of water in the potato).
6th Grade

We continued the constellations lecture. Students continued to complete their graphic organizer.

Mars Class

We discussed our upcoming field trip. On December 14th, we will travel to the University of Utah and students will have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Marjorie Chan. I have seen Dr. Chan on a number of science shows discussing both the geology of Earth and the geology (areology?) of Mars. She has graciously made time to discuss Mars with members of the class.

We finished watching the video Phoenix Mission - Onto the Ice.

11/30/10

Tuesday, November 30th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students conducted two diffusion (The process of matter spreading out evenly from its source. An example of diffusion is when perfume is sprayed and eventually is smelled throughout a room.) experiments in their workbook.

  • Smelly Balloons - Three balloons were filled with a "smelly" liquid - vanilla, lemon extract, and raspberry extract. Students then smelled the balloon. Students should have been able to smell each liquid. This demonstrates diffusion because the particles are small enough to move through the tiny holes in the balloon (from a high concentration [in the balloon] to a low concentration [outside the balloon]).
  • It Reeks In Here - I used a container with chopped onions and garlic for this activity. I opened it up in front of the class. I then timed how long it took to get to the back of the classroom. Students recorded that data and graphed their results.
6th Grade

I began the constellations lecture. Students completed their graphic organizer during the lecture.

Mars Class

Students began working on the Introduction to Mars WebQuest. This will introduce Mars to the students. They will also begin learning how to observe features on the Martian surface.

11/29/10

Monday, November 29th

Begin 2nd Trimester

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students completed the Diffusion and Osmosis WebQuest today.

6th Grade

This was the first day of Science B.

We will study the following topics...

  • Constellations (Standard IV) - uses, history, & myths.
  • Why we have phases of the moon (Standard I).
  • The reason for the seasons (Standard II).
  • Solar System (Standard III).
  • Size and scale of the Universe (Standard IV).
  • One week review of Science A topics.
The last week of the trimester (week of February 28th), students will be taking the 6th Grade State Core Test.

Students who were not in my 1st Tri class received their disclosure statement. It is to be turned in by Wednesday.

We watched Constellation Myths. This program presented three sets of myths about constellations - Orion, Big & Little Dippers, & the Perseus myth (Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Perseus, & Cetus - the sea serpent).

After the video, students began working on their Constellation Workbook. Their assignment was to read pages 1 & 2. This was an article that gave them the basics about the constellations. After they were done reading, the assignment was to answer the questions on pages 3 & 4.

Mars Class

This is the first time our school has taught a class like this. The purpose of this class is for students to learn about Mars, its surface, and how surface features were formed. This will take about six weeks.

For the last six weeks, students will work to develop a research project about Mars. They will submit their completed project to the Mars Student Imaging Program committee at Arizona State. (This group is involved in managing the Mars Odyssey space probe in conjunction with JPL). The submitted project will include a request to use the Mars Odyssey to photograph a certain location on Mars.

If this is approved, students will program the space probe to take their picture from the classroom.

It's a very unique opportunity. As I told the class today that if someone would have told me (when I was in the 7th grade) that in 2010 I would be teaching a class about Mars that would involve the possibility of using a Mars space probe to take a photograph (under their control), I would have said they were crazy; yet, here I am doing just that. Wow! How times have changed!

Students received their disclosure statement. It is due back to class on Wednesday.

I showed students part of a Walt Disney show from the mid 50's called Man and Mars. The part they saw was speculation as to what life on Mars could possibly look like. Some of it was way out even for the 50's. As I told them, as a science geek, I loved this stuff. It helped spark my interest in learning about Mars and the planets.

We watched about half of a PBS show called Phoenix Mission: Onto the Ice. This is an overview of the the Mars Phoenix Lander that landed on Mars in 2007.

11/24/10

NASA Image of the Day - Harrat Khaybar

Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia lies in the western half of the Arabian peninsula and contains not only large expanses of sand and gravel, but also extensive lava fields known as haraat (harrat for a named field). According to scientists, the volcanic field was formed by eruptions along a long north-south linear vent system over the past 5 million years; the most recent recorded eruption took place between 600-700 A.D.

The presence of tuff cones -- formed by eruption of lava in the presence of water together with other volcanic features indicative of water -- in the Harrat Khaybar suggest that the local climate was much wetter during some periods of volcanic activity. Today, however, the regional climate is hyperarid -- little to no yearly precipitation -- leading to an almost total lack of vegetation.

The image was taken by the Expedition 16 crew aboard the Inernational Space Station in March 2008.

11/22/10

Monday, November 22nd

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We began the cell function unit today. Students went into the computer lab and began a Diffusion and Osmosis WebQuest.

The unit emphasizes two forms of passive transport (movement of liquids and gases into and out of a cell without using any energy), diffusion (The process of matter spreading out evenly from its source. An example of diffusion is when perfume is sprayed and eventually is smelled throughout a room.) and osmosis (A special form of diffusion that occurs in liquids. One liquid spreads evenly within another liquid.).

After students complete the WebQuest, they will begin doing experiments and activities that demonstrate diffusion and osmosis.

6th Grade

During the light unit, we did not have time to do one activity. We did that today. The activity was called Scattering Seeing the Microscopic Among the Giants. The activity served to not only emphasize reflection of light as well as light and color. It also introduced planetary science to students. This is an activity that I found at the NASA Cassini website.

Student place 1 1/2 cups of water into two pint jars. Using a laser pointer, students shine it through the water and observe what happens. Students next place four drops of milk in one of the jars. The laser light is shined through the milky water. Students saw the laser's beam as it passed through the jar.

Students added 1/4 teaspoon of flour into the second jar of water. This time the red beam was scattered throughout the jar. This is because there are different size particles of flour in the mixture.

This also demonstrates why the sky is blue. Light from the Sun hits particles in our atmosphere and the blue light tends to be reflected off the particles, causing our blue sky.

(Note - a number of students thought the sky was blue because blue light is reflected off the water. This is backwards. Water is blue because blue is reflected off the water.)

11/19/10

Friday, November 19th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Student took the cell unit final exam. I should have all essays graded and entered into the computer by Monday.

6th Grade

I was able to complete grading essays today. All microorganisms unit final exam scores have been entered into the computer.

I got my new DVD player, so I decided to show an episode of Good Eats - The American Pickle to the class. It's an excellent episode to show them how pickles are made as well as the roll microbes play in the pickling process.

I gave student a preview of Science B by showing them an excellent episode of A Traveler's Guide to the Planets - Saturn.

11/17/10

Wednesday, November 17th (Early Out Day)

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

I decided to end work on the cell unit today. Most students had finished work through the B2 Layer.

Tomorrow, there will be a review for the cell unit final exam Friday.

6th Grade

We continued reviewing for the microorganisms final exam tomorrow. We played "FUNGI," the microorganisms version of BINGO. students were read clues and had to find the answer on their FUNGI card.

I think it went well and the students got a good review.

11/16/10

Tuesday, November 16th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students are completing work on their cell unit assignments. (Last day for work is Thursday.)

6th Grade

Today we began to review for the final exam. Students watched a video about bacteria and one about protists.

If you would like to help you student prepare for the final exam on Thursday, you can help them review the unit notes. All the information the need to know can be found in the notes.

11/15/10

Monday, November 15th

Here's what we did in class today.

7th Grade

Students continue to work on their cell unit assignments.

The last day I will accept work is on Thursday. Friday, students will take the final exam.

6th Grade

Today ended work on the microorganisms unit assignments. I an in the process of grading the last assignments. Everything will be updated in the computer by Wednesday at the latest.

11/11/10

Tattooed Mars

As I was growing up, I loved reading about Mars, the canals, and the civilizations. Of course, there are no such things as civilizations and canals on Mars.

The other day, the NASA Image of the Day was called Tattooed Mars. This picture (caption below the picture) looks just like the drawings and visions of Mars that I hoped we would find. Looking at this picture, in fact, sure brings back memories of a young scientist learning about Mars! I wanted to share it with you!

Originally released Aug. 1, 2007, this image is of Mars' Russell Crater dune field, which is covered seasonally by carbon dioxide frost. This image shows the dune field after the frost has evaporated from solid to gas, with just a few patches remaining of the bright seasonal frost. Numerous dark dust devil tracks can be seen meandering across the dunes.

Thursday, November 11th

Here's what we did today.

7th grade

Students continue to work on the cell unit assignment.

Based on the number of students that are completing assignments, I've changed the due dates. The B1 workbook is now due on Friday, November 12th. The B2 workbook will be due on Thursday, November 18th. The cell unit final will be given on Friday, November 19th.

6th Grade

Students continue to work on the microorganisms unit assignment.

The last day to turn in work will be on Monday, November 15th. We will review on the 16th & 17th. The unit final will be given on Thursday, November 18th.

If you would like to help your student study for the test, click here to get a set of notes.

11/10/10

Wednesday, November 10th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continue to work on the cell unit assignments. Students should have completed up through the C3 Layer workbook. Assignments through the C3 Layer have been entered in the computer.

6th Grade

A student brought some pond water to class. It was, without question, the best pond water I've seen. You could easily see hundreds of paramecium. Students spent the hour looking at the samples and writing up their observations.

Our last day for working on the microorganisms unit assignments will be on Monday.

11/9/10

Tuesday, November 9th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Student continue working on their cell unit assignments.

Most students have completed the work through the C3 Layer. One group of students is actively working on the A Layer assignments.

6th Grade

We're entering the homestretch of the microorganisms unit assignments. We will finish work on the unit next Monday. The unit final exam will be given on the 17th with an opportunity to retest on the last day of class for the trimester (November 22nd).

11/8/10

Monday, November 8th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continue working on the cell unit assignments. The C3 Layer workbook should be completed by tomorrow.

6th Grade

All student should have completed assignments through the B1 Layer. The proficiency levels have been updated in the computer.

11/4/10

EPOXI Flyby of Comet Hartley 2

The EPOXI space probe completed a flyby of Comet Hartley 2 today. It flew within 435 miles of the Comet.

The EPOXI probe was first launched as Deep Impact. On July 4, 2005, Deep Impact launched a probe that crashed into Comet Tempel 1. This gave scientists a chance to better study the composition of comets.


Deep Impact was in good enough shape that its mission was extended. One of its mission to observe stars to identify possible giant planets that move in front of the star (transits the star). The flyby of Comet Hartley 2 was also a part of the mission, which has now been completed.

The pictures show the nucleus of the Comet. It has been described as looking like a "peanut" or the "drumstick" of a chicken!

It's quite a picture, no matter what it looks like!

Thursday, November 4th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continue to work on their cell unit assignments. All student should be working on the C3 Layer assignments. Proficiency levels up through C2 Layer work have been updated in the computer.

6th Grade

Students continue to work on their microorganisms unit assignments. All student should have completed all workbooks up through the C3 Layer assignments. Proficiency levels up through the C3 Layer work have been updated in the computer.

I'm a little concerned a significant number of students in my 2nd & 6th hour classes have not finished up through the C3 Layer. I even have a few students working on the C2 Layer (which should have been finished last week).

Please check your students proficiency levels. If they haven't completed through the C3 Layer, please mention to them they need to get caught up.

11/3/10

Wednesday, November 3rd

Students are still working on their workbooks. 6th Grade students will finish on November 15th with the microorganisms test on November 17th.

11/1/10

Monday, November 1st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their cell unit assignments. All students should have completed the C1 Layer work by October 28th. The proficiency levels for C1 have been entered in the computer. All students should finish the C2 Layer work by tomorrow.

6th Grade

Students continued working on their microorganisms unit assignments. All students should have completed C1 & C2 Layer work. The proficiency levels for C1 & C2 have been entered in the computer.

10/31/10

Friday, October 29th

Sorry this is a couple of days late.

7th Grade

Student continue to work on their cell unit assignments.

6th Grade

Between my being gone 5th/6th hour (Student Council Red Ribbon Week assembly) and my needing a little time to regroup, I decided to show two videos the students today.

The first video discussed fungi. The second was Bill Nye Germs.

Monday, we pick up where we left off. The unit will be ending in two weeks.

10/28/10

Thursday, October 28th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students are continuing to work on the cell unit assignments.

Students are making great progress. There are only three students still on the C1 Layer, but they're almost done and the posters they are making look great.

Almost half the class is on the C3 Layer assignments. I'm please with their work.

6th Grade

Students are continuing work on the microorganisms unit assignments. Most are making great progress.

They had me running around the room all day between getting supplies and helping students. I love days like today! It gives me more opportunity to work directly with individual students or groups. I get to know the students better, and I'm able to spend one-on-one time with students making sure they understand their assignment(s).

10/27/10

Wednesday, October 27th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Student continued working on the cell unit assignments.

I have set due dates for each assignment. They are...


6th Grade

We began the day watching an episode of Good Eats - Yogurt - Good Milk Gone Bad. I enjoy the show because the host, Alton Brown, talks about the science of food and cooking. This episode not only gave recipes to make yogurt, but he talked about the science behind the bacteria and how it makes yogurt. It's a great episode demonstrating beneficial uses of bacteria.

Students continued working on their microorganisms unit assignment after the video.

10/26/10

Tuesday, October 26th

Here's what we did in school today.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their cell unit assignments.

6th Grade

Students continue working on the microorganisms unit assignments.

After looking at how much time we have remaining until the end of the trimester, I have come up with a number of due dates for each layer.


I'm finding around half of my students have completed their work through the C2 Layer and are working on the C3 & B1 Layers. I have a few students working on the B2 Layer.

This schedule will allow students ample time to complete work while giving us review time before we have the end of trimester test.

10/25/10

Monday, October 25th

Here's what we did in class today.

7th Grade

Students continue working on the cell unit assignments. I expect all students to have finished the C1 Layer assignment by Thursday; I expect the C2 Layer assignments to be finished by Tuesday of next week.

6th Grade

Students continue working on the microorganisms unit assignments. The proficiency levels earned for the C1 Layer assignments have been entered into the computer. Any student who did not complete the C1 Layer by Friday received a "Z" (assignment not turned in). When the workbook and quiz are complete, the "Z" will be changed to their earned proficiency level; however, the Life Skill proficiency will be lowered to 2 or lower.

10/24/10

Hubble Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC 2)

Last Sunday (October 17th), I had the opportunity to see the Hubble Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC 2) that took all those marvelous pictures since 1990. Hubble was repaired by the astronauts of STS-125 in 2009. was replaced by Space Shuttle astronauts in 2009. It was on its way to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and made one stop at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was an experience being able to see the actual camera. Here are some pictures.

(WFPC in space)



(It was hard to get a good picture because of the reflections off the plastic)

(The blue dots identify places where micrometeorites hit Hubble)

As a part of the program, former astronaut Bruce McCandless talked about the camera. Captain McCandless worked on the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. Two of his claims to fame is that he was the CAPCOM during the first moonwalk July 20, 1969 and he was the first astronaut to use the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) in 1984 (becoming the first human being to fly in space without a tether - in essence becoming a satellite). I had the chance to meet and talk with him for a few minutes.















(Bruce McCandless talking about Hubble)




(Bruce McCandless flying the MMU)

All-in-all in was an exciting afternoon for a science geek like me!

Friday, October 22nd

Here's what we did in class.

7th Grade

Students continued working on their cell unit assignments. Many students who began at the C1 Layer are finishing up their work and moving on to the C2 Layer. All students who began at the C2 Layer have completed their work and moved on to the C3 Layer. At this layer, students will begin to learn about cells through lab activities.

6th Grade

Students are expected to have finished all work on the C1 Layer of the microorganisms unit assignment by the end of today. Proficiency levels will be entered on Monday. All students will be expected to have completed the C2 Layer workbook by Thursday.

I currently have students working at every level up to the B2 Layer (C3 Layer & B1 Layer workbooks available here).

10/21/10

Crackling with Solar Flares (NASA Imageof the Day)

I wanted to share NASA's Image of the Day. It's a great picture of a solar flare.

From the website:

Fast-growing sunspot 1112 is crackling with solar flares. So far, none of the blasts has hurled a substantial CME, or coronal mass ejection, toward Earth. In addition, a vast filament of magnetism is cutting across the sun's southern hemisphere. This filament is so large it spans a distance greater than the separation of Earth and the moon. A bright 'hot spot' just north of the filament's midpoint is UV radiation from sunspot 1112. The proximity is no coincidence; the filament appears to be rooted in the sunspot below. If the sunspot flares, it could cause the entire structure to erupt. Thus far, none of the flares has destabilized the filament.

Rick Riordan

While I was visiting my father in Denver, I had the opportunity to meet Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. I love the Percy Jackson series, so I was pleased to have the chance to meet him.

He has two new books coming out. The first is The Heroes of Olympus. This is a continuation of sorts of the Olympians with new characters. I haven't started to read it, so I don't know if Percy Jackson shows up.

The other is The Red Pyramid. This book introduces new characters and is based on Egyptian gods. I've read about forty pages and I have really enjoyed the book. I have never really studied Egyptian mythology, so I'm enjoying learning some new mythology along with reading an enjoyable book!

Mr. Riordan was very nice and I had an enjoyable conversation that lasted about twenty seconds (the people making sure the line kept moving did their jobs!).

Tuesday - Thursday, October 19th-21st

Sorry I'm late updating the blog. I have to admit that I was kind of lazy when I got home the last two nights from Parent/Teacher Conference.

I want to say thanks to those parents who attended. I enjoy having the opportunity to meet my students' parents.

7th Grade

We began our cell unit assignments on Tuesday. I handle this unit different from a normal unit.

I used a modified form of layered curriculum. About two weeks ago, students were given a pretest to see what they knew about cells. Based on their test scores, they were assigned to a specific C-Layer. (Layered curriculum has three layers - C-Layer - basic knowledge, understanding. Student builds on his/her current level of knowledge; B-Layer - application or manipulation of the information learned in the C-Layer. Problem solving or other higher level thinking tasks are placed here; A-Layer - critical thinking and analysis. This layer requires the highest and most complex thought.)

Students start at one of the following three C-Layers:

  • C1-Layer - Student has little pre-knowledge about cells.
  • C2-Layer - Student has some pre-knowledge about cells.
  • C3-Layer - Student has a good basic understanding of cells.

Students have been working on their workbooks since Tuesday. We will continue the Layered Curriculum for around four more weeks. For more information about the Cell Unit, click here.

6th Grade

We began our microorganisms unit assignments on Tuesday. I handle this unit different from a normal unit.

I used a modified form of layered curriculum. About two weeks ago, students were given a pretest to see what they knew about microorganisms. Based on their test scores, they were assigned to a specific C-Layer. (Layered curriculum has three layers - C-Layer - basic knowledge, understanding. Student builds on his/her current level of knowledge; B-Layer - application or manipulation of the information learned in the C-Layer. Problem solving or other higher level thinking tasks are placed here; A-Layer - critical thinking and analysis. This layer requires the highest and most complex thought.)

Students start at one of the following three C-Layers:

  • C1-Layer - Student has little pre-knowledge about microorganisms.
  • C2-Layer - Student has some pre-knowledge about microorganisms.
  • C3-Layer - Student has a good basic understanding of microorganisms.

Students have been working on their workbooks since Tuesday. We will continue the Layered Curriculum through the end of the trimester (around Thanksgiving). For more information about the Microorganisms Unit, click here.

10/15/10

Wednesday, October 13th & Monday, October 18th

I've been out of town these two days, so there's been a substitute in the class. Here's what I had the students do both days.

7th Grade

I created a worksheet from Sections 1.1 & 1.2 in our textbook, Cells and Heredity. We will be starting our cells unit on Tuesday, so I wanted the students to get an overview of the structure of a cell.

6th Grade

Students are reading the magazine Kids Discover Germs and completing a worksheet. This will give them a good opportunity to learn about the harmful effects of microorganisms. We start our microorganisms unit on Tuesday.

10/13/10

Tuesday, October 12th

Here's what we dd today.

7th Grade

We began our cell structure and function unit today. I presented the basics with a lecture. Students completed a concept map as a part of the lecture.

6th Grade

Students watched the Discovery School Video Understanding Bacteria. They completed a worksheet while watching the video.

I really like using the video as an introduction to bacteria. The video presents both benefits and the harmful effects of bacteria. My favorite part of the video is how the (now closed) Homestake Mine had to clean up the river, which flowed black. They ended up using bacteria that eats cyanide. They were successful to the point that trout now live in the river.

It's a great video.

10/11/10

Monday, October 11th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students presented their science projects to the class. I was very impressed with their work and the jobs done by each group.

Tomorrow, we begin our cell unit.

6th Grade

Students took the sound unit quiz. The quiz officially ended our heat, light, and sound unit.

Based on the pretest results, the majority of students don't know what a protozoan or decomposer is. I decided to show them two videos - Eye of the Cyclops - Algae and Protozoans and Eye of the Cyclops - Decomposers everywhere.

The two videos introduced students to two important groups of microorganisms. The two videos gave them a good overview of protists and decomposers.

10/8/10

Friday, October 8th

The end of a week and we're also half-way through the 1st Trimester!

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students finished up their science project display board and presentation for Monday.

6th Grade

We're wrapping up the sound unit and, with that, the heat, light, and sound unit.

Here's what students did today.

  • Bee Hummer. Students make an instrument that, when twirled, sounds like bees. Supplies used include a craft stick, two erasers that fit on the end of a pencil, a rubber band, and a 3x5 card. After they were finished, they went out front and tried out their hummer. Here's a drawing of the completed bee hummer.


  • Bees: Buzz Pollination. This is a Pulse of the Planet podcast that explains how bees use sound to gather pollen. I thought it was an interesting use of sound that most people aren't aware of. I wanted students to see how sound is used actually used.
  • Pop Bottle Music. Students use five empty glass pop bottles and fill four of them with various amounts of water (the fifth is empty). This activity demonstrates how the size of the object (amount of air available) determines the pitch.

10/7/10

Thursday, October 7th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Groups continued working on the display board for their science project.

6th Grade

I will be giving the re-take for the light unit quiz on Tuesday, October 12th. Before students can re-take the quiz, they need to complete the review assignment. The graphic organizer must be turned in by the beginning of class Tuesday to re-take the quiz.

Today was the noisiest day of the school year. Students completed the following lab activities...

  • Sound Sandwich - Students take two large craft stick, two small pieces of a straw and three rubber bands to make a noise maker. Students blow between the craft sticks to cause the rubber band vibrate. The pitch can be changed by adjusting the location of the two straws (move them closer together or far away).
  • Straw Sounds. A straw is cut in a "V" at one end. Students blow and make a loud noise. One activity they did was to cut the straw, making it shorter a number of times. This changes the pitch and makes it higher.
  • Plucker Up. A string is placed in a cup and held in place with a paper clip. Students put the cup to their ear and pluck the string outside the cup. They can change the length of the string while plucking. This changes the pitch.

10/6/10

Second No-Hitter in Postseason History


Phillies pitcher Roy Hallady has had quite the year. Earlier this year, he pitched the 20th perfect game in major league history. Now he pitches the second no-hitter in postseason history. The first one pitched was Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He almost got a perfect game. He walked only one in the 5th inning. (I know this isn't school related, but, hey, I love baseball and things like this are exciting to share!)






AP Photo

Wednesday, October 6th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students began putting their display boards for their science project together.

6th Grade

Students worked on the following sound labs...

  • Tuning Fork Observations. Students use tuning forks to demonstrate sound is vibrations. This is done by hitting the tuning fork and place it on the desk. They hear the tone as it passes through the table. A vibrating tuning fork is put in water. The water flying all over the table also demonstrates the tuning forks are vibrating. They also have two different sizes of tuning forks. They compare the pitch of the two. The large fork has a lower pitch; the smaller fork has a higher pitch.
  • King Gong. Students make earphones using cups connected with string. A metal hanger is placed on the string. The hanger is tapped with a spoon and students listen to the tone. The sound is a cool sounding gong.
  • Party Line. This is the old telephone activity. Two cups are connected with string. Students talk on their "phone." Next, a third cup is tied onto the string. There are now three phones. One more phone is tied onto the string. Four students can now talk to each other.
A few years ago, I had a class who wanted to see how many "phones" they could put on a string. They successfully connected eighteen "phones." They all could hear each other when the strings were pulled tight. It was quite a site out in front of the school that afternoon!

10/5/10

Monday & Tuesday, October 4th & 5th

I apologize for not updating the blog yesterday. 6th Grade students took their light unit quiz, and I was disappointed with the results. I spent most of the evening working on remediation in preparation for the re-take.

Here's what's been going on in class the last two days.

7th Grade

Yesterday students took the cell unit pre-test. Their scores will give me the last bit of information I need to begin the unit (hopefully, by next Monday).

Today students began to wrap up the lab part of their science project. We launched rockets again today with the Green group.

6th Grade

Yesterday students took the light unit quiz. As I mentioned, I was disappointed by the scores. I've just about got a remediation pack put together.

We reviewed the basic concepts of sound.

Today, students took the microorganisms unit pre-test. Their scores will give me the last bit of information I need to begin the unit (hopefully, before the fall break).