My notes on the four macromolecules that are essential to life as we know it: proteins, fats (lipids), carbohydrates (saccharides), and nucleic acids.
January 10, 2017
November 4, 2016
A nice animation showing the inner workings of a cell. There is a narrated version.
May 22, 2016
These three excellent, short videos on John Snow’s life and work on cholera do a nice job of describing what makes for good science–careful observation; good notes; creative analysis of data, etc. They should make a good “spark your imagination” introduction to biological science.
They also have an excellent explanation of all the ‘lies’ and liberties they took in the making of the video.
December 20, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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).
February 5, 2015
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.