Saturday, May 13, 2017

Weekly Reflection of 05/08/17

     This week I changed my idea for the project from the psychology of racism to building a shunt for people with hydrocephalus. I am going to use a 3D printer and some plastic tubing to see if I can make a more effective or cost efficient shunt. I just emailed MedicalExpo to see if they could give me a price on one, and hope to hear back from them soon. As for the 3D printer, I have drawn what I want my shunt to look like. It is going to be a "ball and cone" style shunt with a spring that will get pressed down with increased water pressure. This will be the regulator. 
     This week, I also completed extensive background research on hydrocephalus and shunts, and was able to apply this knowledge to planning my 3D printed regulator. The plan for next week is to start the 3D printing process. I might have to do this at my friend's house, but they said they would help me because of their experience with 3D printing. So far, I feel this is going to be a successful project! If I do not hear back from MedicalExpo soon, I might try to contact Memorial Hospital. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Weekly Reflection of 04/24/17

This week was spent looking at Domains 5, 6, and 7. First, we looked at the stomata of plants and how the plant interacts with the environment on a hydraulic level (standards 5.7, 5.3, and 7.1). Each group got to create their own experiment regarding plants and water. My group looked at the water uptake difference in plants with leaves versus without leaves. This was meant to see how much the regulatory system depended on the leaves rather than just for photosynthesis (domain 3). I am very excited for the poster presentation next week!
For homework, we delved into the nervous system and looked at neurons and how they interact with the rest of the body (domain 6 and 7). We completed a POGIL that really helped me understand neurons and the role that they play in transmitting information to the rest of the body (standard 6.6). We also looked at BBECPO (an acronym for remembering the organization of life in ecology), which includes the biosphere, biome, ecosystem, community, population, and organism (domain 7). Specifically, we completed two videos on communities and the ecosystem. These helped me gain a better understanding into the ecology portion of the AP exam, which is coming up very shortly. I need to review Hardy-Weinberg, which is something I’ve always had trouble with, as well as some earlier unit review. This has been easier because of the format of this class, since the exams are cumulative and many of the topics relate to earlier themes.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Weekly Reflection of 04/10/17

This week was spent collaborating and working on the heart dissection lab. This was “opened” (literally) with a video from the BBC about early heart surgeries. Cardiac Surgeons have had a rough beginning, but once a few were brave enough to fail, the field greatly expanded. This impacted me on a deeper scale because many times I am afraid to fail because of how others might judge me or the blame that might be put on me. It occurred to me that nothing new will happen if I spend my time worrying about failing rather than trying things out for myself. In the heart dissection lab, I helped my lab partner, Sophie, and we were able to remove all the outer parts of the heart so we could see the atriums and the interventricular sulcus. It was really interesting to see the different parts of the deer heart, as well as finding all the arteries and ventricles that allow the heart to send blood through the lungs and to the rest of the body (standard 6.6). Taking what I learned from the BBC video, I took the initiative of opening up the heart with the scalpel. We then looked at the different fat tissues and measured parts of the deer heart. This lab was very interesting, and I learned a great deal about how blood is pumped through the human body and oxygenated by the lungs!
We also reviewed Vodcasts 5.1 and 5.2. Vodcast 5.1 looked over how cells become specialized to create certain tissues and organs (standard 5.1). I really enjoyed these discussions, I felt like it had a real connection to Sam Rhine’s Genetic Conference the biology class participated in last October. Vodcast 5.2 continued exploration from October about what happens during animal development. I remember learning about the placenta and amniotic egg from the conference, so it was easier to pick up the concepts when looking at them a second time around. I need to look back on the most recent vodcasts regarding osmoregulation to gain a better understanding of this topic.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Weekly Reflection of 04/03/2017

    This week we started Domain 5! We’re now looking at the regulation of cells, as well as their communication with other cells and the environment. To kick off the unit, I looked at stickleback fish and how they have adapted to the environment based on their current conditions (standards 5.1 and 5.2). This brought back the first unit of evolution, which helps wrap topics back up before the AP exam. It also makes a lot more sense to me now by looking how these changes occur instead of just why.
I also participated in a group project on the excretion, nutrition, gas exchange, and circulation of organisms (standards 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5). This was done by giving examples of different classes of life and explaining their bodily processes in a pamphlet. The activity allowed classmates to be interactive through comments online and learn through others’ questions. All of the groups did a very good job putting together their information, so I was able to get a lot out of this project!
I am expanding on my knowledge of genetics from the previous domain on genetics by looking at certain sequences that are conserved even through evolution in Vodcast 5.1. These pieces in the genome are called Homeobox genes, and show where different body parts are to be made or placed during development and reproduction. Although not a lot of class time was devoted to looking into this concept further, it was touched upon in the online textbook which has allowed me to understand it better.
Overall, I need to further my knowledge on the development in animals and plants as touched upon in Vodcast 5.2. It has not clicked 100% for me, but I think if I were to go through the slides or listen to the video again, it would help me a lot. I will also go through the online textbook to clarify some of my questions and trouble-spots on these topics.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 03/27/2017

    Domain Four was continued this week with diving into and processing the fly lab. This was an online lab where you could cross flies to determine their genotype, as well as looking at different genetic patterns (Standard 4.5). For instance, I learned about both autosomal and x-linked genes, as well as traits that exhibited incomplete dominance, codominance, and epistasis (Standard 4.6). In my independent fly cross, I also learned that some genotypes are lethal, and this can affect both a population and the chi square value (Standard 4.7).
    I was also introduced to grid-in questions on the AP exam pertaining to genetics. These questions asked about Mendelian genetics and the expected phenotype and genotype ratios of offspring given a specific set of data (Standard 4.5). To preface this, the week was filled with a series of prezis and vodcasts based on the history and some examples of heritable traits.
     This is one of my favorite units of biology, and I am both enjoying it and understanding it very much. I am learning a lot more information than previously introduced to me in freshman biology, am soaking it all up. I just need to grasp the levels of control in eukaryotic cells with the miRNA and ncRNA. After some more research, I think I will be able to bring this knowledge to the table in class.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weekly Reflection of 03/20/17

    This week was spent continuing Domain 4: Inheritance. It started out with going over an HHMI activity that looked at which genes are most likely to cause cancer on what chromosomes. It was very interesting to see that it takes a combination of tumor suppressors, oncogenes, cell survival, cell fate, and genome maintenance genes to create a problem such as cancer. This linked to the homework done over the course of the week; exploring ideas pertaining to chromosomal abnormalities and the problems it can cause with Down’s, Turner’s and Klinefelter's Syndromes. It also helped introduce Mendelian Genetics.
    We then started looking into the genetics of parent-to-offspring and the probabilities of each possible gamete and individual (standard 4.5). This is one of my favorite biology units because it combines a great deal of math and biology; two of my favorite things. To practice this unit, we did a worksheet on punnett squares. In class, we did another HHMI activity on chi-squares and pedigrees, which helped solidify questions on the statistics involved with this process. I really enjoy solving pedigrees because it reminds me of Perplexors - a math book that I adored as a child. You had to solve situations based on a certain piece of information. I feel like completing many of these books as an elementary- and middle-schooler helped me be able to pick up on these processes easier.
     The week was closed up by looking at special trends in genetics (standard 4.6). This will be reviewed next week, but looking at a Prezi about this information really helped me remember information from my freshman year of biology and be able to complete the Drosophila Lab next Monday and Tuesday. I think to better myself in this lab, it would be best to memorize the special traits not carried out by Mendelian genetics, including codominance, incomplete dominance, pleiotropy, and epistasis.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Examining Cancer Patient Data - 3/20/2017


Three Things I Learned From the Activity:
  1. Cancer can be caused by as little as 2 genes mutations. 
  2. Chromosome 17 is a very common problem area in cancer because of its many genes. 
  3. Tumor suppressors and oncogenes are about equal in their impacts in cancer.
Two Things That Surprised or Interested Me:
  1. Chromosome X, although having a small number of genes, has a large number of mutations that can cause cancer.
  2. Genome maintenance mutations is not as large of a problem in incurring cancer as for cell
    survival and cell function mutations. 
One Question I Still Have:
1. Can cancer be caused by just one gene mutation?