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.