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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.).


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.


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.


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.