Entries Categorized as 'Biology'

The Essential Biopolymers

January 10, 2017

My notes on the four macromolecules that are essential to life as we know it: proteins, fats (lipids), carbohydrates (saccharides), and nucleic acids.

Carbohydrates/saccharides.

Carbohydrates/saccharides.

Fats/lipids.

Fats/lipids.

Nucleic Acids (DNA and RNA).

Nucleic Acids (DNA and RNA).

Proteins.

Proteins.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2017. The Essential Biopolymers, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Inner Workings of a Cell

November 4, 2016

A nice animation showing the inner workings of a cell. There is a narrated version.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2016. Inner Workings of a Cell, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

The Flint Water Crisis

January 25, 2016

What happened:

  • Flint switches from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money,
  • E. coli bacteria show up in water (E.coli can make you sick) so the water system adds chlorine to kill the bacteria,
  • Trichloromethane shows up in the water (trichloromethane is a carcinogen)
  • Water from the Flint River is more corrosive compared to Detroit’s because it has higher levels of chlorine ions (Cl),
  • Chlorine dissolves lead from old water pipes — the lead goes into solution in the water (lead causes issues with mental development in kids, among other things),

References

Detailed article from Mashable: The poisoning of a city

A timeline from Michigan Radio: TIMELINE: Here’s how the Flint water crisis unfolded

An excellent, detailed program from Reveal: Do not drink: The water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The second part in particular is a good summary of the science issues.

A NPR summary from September 29th, 2015: High Lead Levels In Michigan Kids After City Switches Water Source

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2016. The Flint Water Crisis, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Glossary of Plant Description

December 20, 2015

From: The vPlants Project. vPlants: A Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region. http://www.vplants.org

From: The vPlants Project. vPlants: A Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region. http://www.vplants.org

The vPlants Project. vPlants: A Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region. http://www.vplants.org is a wonderfully comprehesive collection of pictures with plant descriptions: plant form; leaf shapes; stem and leaf patterns; flower shapes; and more.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Glossary of Plant Description, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Chickens 911

October 10, 2015

Initial reports indicated a chicken with a broken leg; some rumors suggested the chicken had gone missing as well. These reports instigated an investigation by the Chicken Committee. They determined that the chicken was there, but something was wrong. They sent out a call for medical assistance.

X-ray of our chicken.

X-ray of our chicken.

Help came in the form of Dr. Emily Leonard from the Cherry Hills Veterinary Hospital (who happens to be a mom at our school). She took the chicken in for examination.

Based on the X-ray, there were no bones broken, so the issue must have been something else. The large egg that showed up on the radiograph suggested that the chicken could have been egg-bound, however, 20 minutes later, the chicken laid the egg.

So, the chicken is still under observation.

After the initial examination, Dr. Leonard brought the chicken back to school. It needed to be isolated and observed–which is something we now know to do in the future in any other case of injury–and the head of the Chicken Committee (the Chicken Head) made the call that the animal should go back to the hospital for the weekend.

Dr. Leonard deals mostly with pets, so she had to do quite a bit of research. “I learned a lot about chickens today,” she told me afterwards. This is a message I hope the students internalize. With the ready access to information we have today, it’s not so much about the facts you have memorized, but more about having the flexibility and ability to deal with new challenges by doing research and then applying what you learn are essential skills.

Dr. Leonard takes the chicken in for observation.

Dr. Leonard takes the chicken in for observation.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Chickens 911, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Synthetic Muscle Fibers from Fishing Line

August 16, 2015

I need some students to try this at school. Muscle fibers that contract on heating sounds like a great way to open and close vents for air circulation (in the chicken coop to start with).

Popular Mechanics

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Synthetic Muscle Fibers from Fishing Line, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Our Microbial Symbionts

March 16, 2015

Rob Knight's TED talk on the importance of our microbial symbionts.

Rob Knight’s TED talk on the importance of our microbial symbionts.

Sometimes I ask my students if we’re not just giant mechs for our microbial symbionts. After all, they outnumber us by about 10 to 1–in our own bodies. Rob Knight’s TED talk stokes my curiosity.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Our Microbial Symbionts, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Gene Transfer from Algea to Sea Slug

February 5, 2015

The sea slug. "Elysia pusilla" by Katharina Händeler, Yvonne P. Grzymbowski, Patrick J. Krug & Heike Wägele - Händeler K., Grzymbowski Y. P., Krug P. J. & Wägele H. (2009) "Functional chloroplasts in metazoan cells - a unique evolutionary strategy in animal life". Frontiers in Zoology 6: 28. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-6-28 Figure 1F.. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The sea slug. “Elysia pusilla” by Katharina Händeler, Yvonne P. Grzymbowski, Patrick J. Krug & Heike Wägele – Händeler K., Grzymbowski Y. P., Krug P. J. & Wägele H. (2009) “Functional chloroplasts in metazoan cells – a unique evolutionary strategy in animal life”. Frontiers in Zoology 6: 28. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-6-28 Figure 1F.. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

One of my students wanted to figure out how to make animals photosynthesize. Well, this article indicates that sea slugs have figured out how eat and digest the algae but keep the algal chloroplasts alive in their guts so the sea slug can use the fats and carbohydrates the chloroplasts produce (the stealing of the algal organelles is called kleptoplasty). To maintain the chloroplasts, the slugs have actually had to incorporate some of the algae DNA into their own chromosomes–this is called horizontal gene transfer and it’s what scientists try to do with gene therapies.

More details here.

Magnification ?.

Filamentous algae like the ones eaten by the sea slugs.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Gene Transfer from Algea to Sea Slug, Retrieved December 11th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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