1/31/11

Monday, January 31st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Friday, students completed two genetics activities - Bikini Bottom Genetics & Oompah Loompah GeneticsToday, students worked the problems on the board, giving all students a chance to see if they have the correct answers.

6th Grade

Students continued working on their Solar System Unit AssignmentsAll C1 work is due by the end of class on Wednesday.

Students also watched Bill Nye - Gravity.

Mars Class

Students finished their work on their Valles Marineris Case Study.

1/28/11

Friday, January 28th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students worked on two worksheets - Bikini Bottom Genetics and Oompah Loompah Genetics. I like these worksheets because students have to take what they know and apply to differing situations.  They have to determine genotypes (the genes the parents have) based on the information given.  Then, they determine the probability of offspring inheriting the trait. 

Oompah Loompah Genetics requires students to develop charts identifying genotypes and phenotypes (what the trait looks like). 

6th Grade

Students continue to work on the Solar System Unit assignments.

Mars Class

Students are finishing up their work on their Valles Marineris Case StudyOne group wanted to see what happens if a large object hit underground water.  They got their answer and broke the side of a bucket.  A small price to pay to advance science!

1/26/11

Tuesday January 25th and Wednesday January 26th

Here's what we did in class.

7th Grade

Students made a 3-D model of DNA.  I like this model because it twists as they students glue the nitrogenous bases to the phosphate-sugar backbone.  It makes a nice model for the students.

We watched a video called Understanding Genetics.  This gave the students an overview of genetics.

6th Grade
 
We completed our seasons unit.  Tuesday students took the final quiz. 

Today students watched a video - Science Court - Gravity.  We're beginning our solar system unit.  One concept students need to understand is how gravity keeps the solar system together.

Mars Class

Students continue working on their Valles Marineris Case Study.

Today one group raised an interesting question.  As they were looking at the Melas Chasma area, they wondered what role cratering had in forming that area.  I think that's a very interesting question. 

I love the way my students are beginning to think.

1/24/11

Monday, January 24th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students made a 3-D model of DNA.  The great thing about this activity is it gives them an idea of what DNA really looks like.  The model even twists as they put it together.

6th Grade

Students completed the first part of the seasons unit assessment.  Students read a myth about why we have seasons.  The task is to...
  • Draw a picture that represents the myth's explanation of why we have seasons.
  • Draw a picture that shows why we really have seasons.
The purpose of the activity is to have students illustrate what they know about why we have seasons.


Mars Class

Students spent their last day researching photographs of Valles Marineris.

1/22/11

Delta IV Heavy Launch January 20th

The Delta IV Heavy is a launch vehicle being used, primarily by the military, to launch satellites into space.  It's one of the largest, if not the largest, vehicle available in the United States.

It is 235 feet tall and has a thrust of 2,000,000 pounds.  (At launch, the space shuttle launch system has a thrust of around 6,700,000 pounds.)

January 20th was the fourth launch of the Delta IV Heavy.  It was launched from Vandenberg AFB, CA, and it carried an "NROL-49 mission: a clandestine satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office described only as something that will 'support the military's national defense mission.'"

Below I have embedded two videos showing the launch.  Unlike the space shuttle, the Delta IV Heavy rises slowly and picks up speed.  Watching a video clip of the launch reminded of the Saturn V launches during the Apollo Moon Missions.




Friday, January 21st

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

I had been having problems in the class.  Too many students were talking and not working.  We'd been butting heads for a bit.  I decided something had to change.  I was getting tired of the class and they were getting tired of me.  So, after the Christmas break, I held a class discussion.  To keep this story from getting any longer, here's what was decided.  The class could earn 10 points a day for expected behavior.  They could earn up to 15 points a day for exceptional behavior.  When they reach 70 points, they can "cash it in" and receive twenty minutes of free time.  If they accumulate 140 points, they can have 40 minutes of free time.  If they earn 190 points, they can have a class party for the entire class.  Based on behavior of individual students, that student may not be allowed to participate in some or all of the party.  All rules were made with class participation and agreement.  Today they had their first class party. 

Behavior and working in the class has really improved.  They work harder, talk less, and the quality of work is improved.  I can say I look forward to them each day.  It's been a very effective way of improving behavior.  I believe that, even though we will occasionally lose a full day of class, we are accomplishing more in class then we did before. 

This has been a win-win for all concerned.

6th Grade

I'm hoping to begin our Solar System Unit on Wednesday or Thursday.  As a part of my preparation, I gave the students the Solar System Unit Pre-Test.

This unit will be taught as a differentiated unit.  It will be similar to the Microorganisms Unit I taught as a part of Science A.  Based on the students scores on the different objectives, they will be given assignments that reflect their pre-knowledge.  Students who don't know much about individual objectives will start at the basic level and complete assignments that will provide them with the necessary basic knowledge.  Students who have the basic knowledge will start at a more advanced level, completing assignments that require their basic knowledge.

I am still putting together a page for my Solar System Unit.  I will include a link on both this blog and my website.

Mars Class

Students are researching information about Valles Marineris in the computer lab.  An important part of their task will be to look at pictures and look for specific geological processes that we have studied.  This will help them as we develop our research project.

1/20/11

Thursday, January 20th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students worked on a DNA assignment - DNA - Double HelixStudent read a paper explaining DNA and answered some questions about DNA.  They also colored a picture of DNA, identifying its key parts. 

6th Grade

1st & 2nd Hour students completed a final activity on differing daylight hours during each season. 

Tracking Sunrise and Sunset.  On one graph, students produce a line graph showing sunrise and sunset times throughout the year.  It should have looked something like this.

SLC Sunrise and Sunset Times

Using the graph, students identify the trends they see with sunrise (Jan-June Sun rises earlier; Jul - Dec Sun risers later).  They also look for trends with sunset times (Jan - June Sun sets later; Jul - Dec Sun sets earlier).  They should notice the patterns are reversed.

5th & 6th Hours completed a different activity - Why Is Summer Hot?  (2nd hour has already completed this activity; 1st Hour cannot complete this activity as the Sun is not over the mountaintops until around 9:10 a.m., which does not give them the time to complete the activity.)  Students have two thermometers on a structure.  One is point directly towards the Sun (direct heat energy).  The other lays flat on the ground (indirect heat energy). 


Students check the temperature every five minutes for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, students should discover that the thermometer in direct sunlight is warmer than the thermometer lying flat on the ground.  This demonstrates the difference in the amount heat energy received.


Mars Class

Students are continuing working on their Valles Marineris case study.

1/19/11

Wednesday, January 19th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We did a quick review of DNA.

6th Grade

We completed a seasons lab today.

  • Light and Latitudes - Seasons Across the ContinentsStudents were given a table with the hours of daylight for nine unknown cities.  They graphed the hours of daylight for the two cities and had to determine if they were in the northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere, or the equator.
Mars Class

We are beginning to work on our project.  We will be developing a research project about Valles Marineris


Valles Marineris is the huge canyon on Mars.  It would spread across the United States.


There are still many questions about how Valles Marineris formed.  We'll have a great opportunity to develop and interesting research project about Mars by selecting this as our topic.

1/18/11

Tuesday, January 18th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We began out genetics unit today.  I started off with a lecture and a quick review of the basic of genetics.

6th Grade

Students worked on two seasons lab.

The Shadow KnowsUsing a protractor, a straw, and a flashlight, students shine the flashlight at four different angles.  They measure the length of the straw's shadow.  The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate that the larger the angle, the shorter the shadow (direct sunlight); the smaller the angle, the longer the shadow (indirect sunlight).
Seasons Four Times of the Year. Student shine a flashlight on a sheet of graph paper at two angles - 90 & 45 degrees.  They draw circles on the graph paper and count the number of squares covered by the light.  They calculate the area of the two lights.  Once again, this demonstrates direct and indirect heat energy.

Mars Class 

Students completed their last lab, How Does the Flow of Groundwater Affect a Planet's Surface?  Students make a "cliff" in their wallpaper tubs (fill the tub with 12 cups of sand and make a cliff by leaving half of the wallpaper tub with no sand).  They put water in a funnel that held just above the sand and pour water at the rate of 10 mL at a time.  Eventually, soil slumps off the cliff and piles up at the base of the cliff.  This is a common geological feature found in Valles Marineris.

1/15/11

Friday, January 14th

Here's what we did in class.

7th Grade

Students took the mitosis/meiosis quiz. Students who wanted to retake the osmosis/diffusion and human structures quizzes.

6th Grade

Students who studied were able to retake the phases of the moon quiz. Once again, I was disappointed about how few students took advantage of the opportunity to retake the quiz. Half of my 1st & 6th hour students earned proficiency levels of 2.5 or lower on one or both of the quizzes, yet no student in first hour, and only two students in 6th were prepared for the retake.

After the retake, students completed the seasons lab Angle of Light Rays and Surface Distribution. Students used a device holding a flashlight (see picture below). They shined the flashlight at three different angles - 90 degrees, 60 degrees, and 30 degrees. They measured the size of the light on the table.

The purpose of the activity was to demonstrate that the smaller the angle, the larger area the light covers. This shows that when the Sun is low in the sky (smaller angle), the heat energy coming from the Sun is spread out over a large area (indirect sunlight) and is cooler. The higher the Sun in the sky (larger angle), the heat energy coming from the Sun is more concentrated and warmer (direct sunlight).


Mars Class

Students worked on a subsidence activity. Subsidence is the sinking of a ground surface due to the physical removal, dissolving, or shrinkage of material below the ground surface. Here's an example of subsidence. (Activity #16 – What Happens When Material Is Removed From Beneath a Surface?)


Using sugar cubes and dice, students built two structures (sugar cubes surrounded by dice), placed some water around the dice/sugar, and observed what occurred. After about a minute, the sugar cubes dissolved and students could see examples of collapse of surface (the sugar cubes collapses while the dice remained in place).

Students wrapped up work on Activity #9 - Geological Features of Mars.

1/13/11

Thursday, January 13th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We will be taking the mitosis/meiosis quiz tomorrow, so students worked on a review worksheet. This is to help prepare them for the quiz.

6th Grade

Students worked on a seasons lab today - Four Seasons. This was a two part activity.

  • Part I - Students began by writing a paragraph explaining what they know about why we have seasons. Then, students walk around a globe around a light bulb representing the Sun. The globe is pointed towards of the classroom, representing the Earth's tilt towards the North Star. As they walk around the classroom, they notice how much of the globe in in sunlight and in darkness at each season. Once completed, they write a second paragraph explaining what they did and what they learned from the activity.
  • Part II - Students place 24 pieces of tape at each longitude line, numbering them from 1 to 24. They place them at the rough longitude of Salt Lake. They point their globe towards the light bulb and count how many hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Southern Hemisphere. They repeat the process, only titling the globe away from the light bulb. The purpose of this activity is to represent the fact that during summer there is more hours of daylight than nighttime and that the seasons in the hemispheres are reversed.
Mars Class

Students observe the results of their second chaotic terrain activity. Two groups got some great results. Below are pictures of two groups' results.













You can clearly see the results of the ground collapsing as the ice melted. Notice the numerous cracks on the left tray and the sink holes on the right tray. These are two great examples of chaotic terrain.

We are begin to finish the first part of the class. Students are learning to better understand the geological processes that formed Mars. Their first activity was Geological Features on Mars. Students will read about certain geological processes and then identify them as they study specific photographs that show examples of those features.

1/12/11

Tuesday, January 11th, Wednesday January 12th

Sorry! I spaced out doing an update yesterday. Here's what we did the last two days.

7th Grade

Students spent the last two day completing a worksheet about mitosis and meiosis. Today (Wednesday) was the last day we spent in the computer lab.


This gives students a chance to better understand mitosis and meiosis and the role meiosis plays in passing on traits to offspring (our next unit - genetics).

6th Grade

On Tuesday, we finished the last of the seasons lecture and the notes for the unit.

Today we began our seasons labs. Our first activity was Reason for the Seasons. This was a two part activity.

  • First, using a globe and flashlight, students moved the globe around the "flashlight" Sun. They observed what parts of the Earth were in sunshine and darkness. They also answered questions on the worksheet. This was to demonstrate what parts of the Earth are tilted towards or away from the Sun during which season.
  • Second, they shined the flashlight on a piece of graph paper. The first angle was 90-degrees. They drew a circle showing how much area the light covered. The number of square illuminated were counted and recorded. This process was repeated for 45-degrees and 30-degrees. The purpose of this activity was to show how the lower the angle of sunlight, the larger the area the heat energy must heat.

Mars Class

Students did an activity Tuesday called What is Chaotic Terrain? (Chaotic terrain is defined as terrain that is formed when the removal of subsurface water or ice causes a loss of support and the ground collapses under its own weight.

For this activity, students took ice cubes and placed them together in a small area. The ice cubes were covered by a thin layer of sand and sat overnight. Students observed their sand to see what formed. Some had sink holes, some had cracks in the sand, and some had both. I had students redo the activity today. They decided how they were going to cover the ice. They will observe it tomorrow.

We are finishing up our labs and starting to spend more time on looking at actual geological formations on Mars. This will help students better identify geological processes on the Martian surface as they plan their research project.

1/10/11

Monday, January 10th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

We began the mitosis/meiosis unit. Mitosis is the process of cell division. Meiosis is the process of producing the sex cells (egg [or equivalent] & sperm [or equivalent]). Students received a set of notes to use during the lecture.

6th Grade

I began the reason for the seasons lecture today. Students filled out their graphic organizer during the lecture.

Mars Class

Student were assigned to write a paper about the uplift activity. Their paper included the following information:

  • Purpose of the activity.
  • What they did, including their observations.
  • Their results.
  • How does this activity help understand Mars?

1/5/11

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday January 5th-7th

I'll be out of the class Thursday and Friday, so here's an update about what students will be doing the rest of the week.

7th Grade

Wednesday

We watched a video - L5 - A City in Space.

I decided to show the DVD today because I didn't want to start our next unit's lecture today and then go four days (Thursday - Sunday) and pick up again on Monday. Our next unit deals with Cell Division - Mitosis and Meiosis. This is a challenging unit and I didn't want the break.

Thursday

Students will be in the computer lab working on a research activity.

Friday

Student will watch an episode of Life - Creatures from the Deep.

Life was on Discovery channel during spring 2010. It was a great series that discusses animals adaptations. During our adaptations unit, students will be watching other episodes.

6th Grade

Wednesday

We watched a video - L5 - A City in Space.

I decided to show the DVD today because I didn't want to start our next unit's lecture today and then go four days (Thursday - Sunday) and pick up again on Monday. Our next unit is the reason for the seasons. This is an interesting, but challenging unit.

Thursday

Students will work on a worksheet I put together from our textbook. The worksheet will give them a good introduction to the seasons unit.

Friday

Students will watch Science Court - Seasons and Bill Nye - Seasons. These are two outstanding videos that will reinforce what the students learned from their textbook assignment.

Mars Class

Wednesday

Students finished the Did Water Create Features on Mars? activity. Students poured water in a tray of sand (about 5" wide and 3' long). They observed "features" formed by the water in their sand and compared it to pictures of Mars.

Thursday/Friday

I reviewed two activities with the class that they will do on Thursday and Friday.

The first activity is Did Impacts Create Features on Mars? This is similar to the previous cratering activity (What Can Craters Tell Us About a Planet?). The difference is that the surface in the first cratering activity was made from flour and corn meal while the surface in the next activity is made from sand. They will be dropping a number of "impactors" on a dry surface. They will then moisten the soil and repeat the process, comparing results. They will then compare their results with pictures of the Martian surface.

The next activity is How Does Uplift Affect a Planet's Surface? Students will fill an aluminum cookie tray with packed cornstarch. They will place it on top of one washer. They will observe what they see. They will continue this process until they have a pile of three washers. They will observe the cracks in the cornstarch and compare it to uplift areas on Mars.

1/4/11

Tuesday, December 4th

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students took two quizzes - Diffusion/Osmosis quiz and Human Structure quiz.

Students will have an opportunity to re-take the quizzes next week. I will prepare a review sheet that students must review before they can retake the quizzes.

6th Grade

Students took the Phases of the Moon quiz. In addition to the quiz, students completed four essay questions.

Students will have an opportunity to re-take the quizzes next week. I will prepare a review sheet that students must review before they can retake the quizzes.

Mars Class

Students presented the results from the cratering activity to the class.

1/3/11

Monday, January 3rd

Welcome back from Christmas break!

Here's what we did today.

7th Grade

Students presented their letters they wrote as a part of the Organ Trail WebQuest. There were a number of outstanding presentations. I was very pleased with the results.

6th Grade

Students did their final Phases of the Moon activity - Why Do We See Different Phases of the Moon?

For this activity, students make a Moon Dial. On one end, there's the Earth. 180 degrees opposite is the Moon. Students fasten it to a second sheet of paper. It shows the direction the Sun's light is coming from. It also has eight squares where students draw the phase of the Moon they see.

A gumball is placed on some clay. It is then placed on the Moon. A flashlight shines in the direction of the Sun. Students turn the dial and observe the Moon, looking at it from the perspective of the Earth. It gives them the opportunity to had a 3-D model of Earth/Moon system.

Mars Class

Students finished their cratering activity (What Can Craters Tell Us About a Planet?).

As a part of the activity, students had to calculate the speed of the "meteorite" hitting the planet. They also had to calculate how much energy the "meteorite" had. This allows them to compare the size of the crater with the kinetic energy of their simulated meteorite.