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? 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekly Reflection of 03/06/17

This week, I continued my research into Domain Four: Information. We delved into some new topics for the year: mitosis and meiosis. This was done through two POGILs and a couple vodcasts talking about the cell cycle, cancer, and meiosis (4.4). The POGILs were very helpful because it refined the information I learned from previously watching the vodcasts. This helped me remember things from freshman biology. Even though it was a while ago, it is coming back fast. 
During the course of the week, I found it very interesting to learn how cancer cells are able to multiply ferociously and out of control. It made me understand why many cells in the human body have to exit through the G0 phase, and most of our cells are not in the replication stage. There are other reasons malfunctions can occur and produce effects like cancer, such as mutations in signal transmitters, both intracellularly and extracellularly (4.9). This was seen through the HHMI packet I completed on Click and Learn. Overall, I need to look over this packet to better understand the proteins involved in this process. This would help me be able to interpret other models and explanations for cancer and tumors. I have a feeling that this is building the foundation for our next exploratory section in this unit about Mendelian Genetics, and how genetic information is passed down from two individuals to its offspring.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week 02/27/17

     This week was the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) lab! I got to work with a couple of new people to delve into my DNA and discover the existence of a possible Alu insertion in my genes (Domain 4.1). After looking at the class’s data and comparing it to other data collected from around the world, I predicted that race is a big factor in having the Alu insertion. Many people of European descent do not even have one chromosome with the insertion, but many of Asian or African descent are positive on at least one of the chromosomes for the insertion. 
     During the lab, there may have been a small mix up in the beginning of the lab by using the wrong test tube, as I did not experience any results on the final round of looking at the gel. This would have eliminated the nucleotides from being present during PCR, which would not have allowed the primers to replicate the DNA. I could have also punctured the gel while I was adding it to the well with a micropipet. If I were to get more practice with this, I would be able to get the hang of it.
      For homework this week, I completed a Vodcast on viruses (Domain 4.3). It was very interesting to learn how scientists and geneticists can use phage therapy to treat bacterial diseases. This could even be the answer for antibiotic resistance! It connected to our previous Vodcast on genetic engineering and the different biotechnical techniques and tools used by scientists to look at and change DNA and RNA. This will lead up to our next section of the unit, most likely on mitosis and meiosis. I feel like it has given me a solid foundation, and will allow me to focus on the next section, which I had difficulty with during my freshman year of biology.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 02/06/17

This week, I continued my exploration of Domain Four: Information. Looking into standard 4.1, I completed a POGIL about Translation. Here, I looked into which mRNA nucleotides code for amino acids, and learned that to cope with mutations, multiple sequences of bases result in the same amino acids, not disrupting the polypeptide chain. Because mutations do happen (as seen in standard 4.2), I completed another packet about the Belgian Blue Mound of Beef. This is a breed of cattle with mutated DNA, causing it to not be able to develop the myostatin protein. The loss of this protein makes it so the animal cannot regulate cell development, growth, and division. This packet also tested my knowledge on translating DNA to RNA, and RNA to amino acids. I have gotten quite good at this!
The greater part of my week was spent completing a Play-Doh activity on making polypeptide chains. I was paired with Eric, a new partner. We worked very well together, and used our time very wisely. We are almost finished creating a slideshow about how a double helix and code for a polypeptide chain. This hit standard 4.1. It was really fun being able to “play” with Play-Doh while learning information and reviewing ideas for the quiz on Friday.
For homework this week, I had to complete a vodcast divided up into three parts about biotechnology. It focused largely on the tools and techniques used in biology, as well as their applications and the ethics of the field. Though it was very interesting to see “behind the scenes,” I will have to work very hard to completely understand all of the tools and techniques of biotechnology. For me, it was very difficult separating vectors, labeling, PCR, and microarray in my head.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 01/31/2017

This week was spent introducing Domain 4: Information. For homework, I took notes and answered WSQ questions on a Vodcast. It was based around the basics of DNA, including Frederick Griffith’s discovery while trying to find a vaccine for pneumonia. It showed that DNA can be transferred from one bacteria cell to another, even if it is dead. This turned into another experiment about twenty-five years later pertaining to bacteriophages and how viruses can infect bacteria. Hershey and Chase used this to their advantage and solidified that DNA, not protein, is the source of hereditary information in organisms (4.3). This set the stage for DNA, and brought in some background information to help future information make sense.
           In class, I was presented with three theories from the 1950’s based on how DNA is replicated. To figure out which was the true theory, Sophie and I looked into the Mendelson and Stahl experiment with light and heavy DNA. Using this BioInteractive packet, we were able to figure out the way in which DNA is replicated: semiconservatively. This was the basis that we needed to understand all of the information for this week. We then explored two POGILs on how DNA is replicated and transcribed. This was a lot easier to understand after the BioInteractive packet because it gave reason to why DNA replicates the way that it does (4.1).
           I also had to take notes on a Prezi this week that talked about DNA replication, transcription, and translation. Looking at these POGILs and Prezis have triggered knowledge I learned from biology my freshman year, and it has been a lot easier to grasp so far this week that it was my freshman year. Reading The Central Dogma helped me understand three and five prime strands on DNA, and how that relates to the replication of DNA. I also learned about point and frame-shift mutations can alter the polypeptide that is produced (4.2).
         The last few days were spent analyzing how genetics can solve problems pertaining to family trees. Sophie and I were able to determine a person’s relatedness to a family from a few genetic markers based on information we learned over the course of the week (4.1). This was then pushed further by exercising our skills to create a scientific argument.