Sunday, May 21, 2017

Week of May 15 to May 19

This was the first full week dedicated to Genius hour and I feel pretty good about it. I made three agar plates and bought some oyster mushrooms from Shaws. I also added the oyster mushrooms to the agar plates to work on growing the mycelium that I need. On Friday I quickly checked on my plates and saw a little bit of growth of all three plates which is a promising sign. I also did a little more background research into the structure of mushrooms to see what makes them flame retardant. I also tested how well oyster mushrooms are at resisting fire and found that oyster mushrooms are indeed fire resistant, now I just have to hope dried mycelium is too. This upcoming week I plan on attempting to start making the mycelium string if I can grow enough mycelium and continuing background research as much as possible to try and understand why mushrooms are fire resistant.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Week of May 8 to May 12

     This week we finally took the AP test which I felt pretty good about, and we also started thinking about genius hour projects. I am planning on trying to turn mycelium into a a form of usable string/yarn. Getting to this idea was a very complicated thought process.
     I saw that WPI researchers managed to grow human heart cells on a decellularized spinach leaf and wanted to do something similar so I thought about growing animal cells on decellularized fungus. This made me remember that people have made fireproof bricks out of fungus, and focusing on the idea that the bricks were fireproof I thought about applying this property of fungus to making clothes. Doing some more research into this I found that mushroom clothing has been made once before; however, the fungus was grown on the mold of a human, not made from yarn. Growing the clothing on a mold seems impracticable to me as the clothing would be shaped to the mold and wouldn't be able to fit anyone who chooses wore the mushroom clothing. After seeing this I decided to try and attempt to make yarn out of mycelium to improve upon the other mushroom clothing that I had researched.
     This weekend I did some tests and found that mushrooms either do not burn or burn very poorly depending of the type of mushroom. I also found that looking for mycelium in the woods is very difficult and that I will likely need to grow it myself which will be the most difficult part as I will need enough mycelium to turn into a relatively decent amount of string. Other than figuring out a way to grow enough mycelium I am looking forward the next month of genius hour.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of April 24 to April 28

     This week we worked on the neuron packet (domain 6) and the transpiration lab (5.7) for most of the week. I understood the neuron packet for the most part which will be beneficial since I did an AP practice test over break and saw several questions on neurons.
     For the transpiration lab, my group was testing to see how air pressure affects transpiration. The set up for our lab was difficult as we had to create a vacuum in one of our setups, and in the process of setting up one of the controls a pipette broke cutting me and forcing us to restart our setup for that specific control. Our data was also all over the place so it will be interesting to analyze it in the upcoming week.
     For homework, we watched two Paul Anderson videos (domain 7) about ecology which I understood and think will help me with the AP test and with the SAT subject test. With the AP test now only 11 days away I need to work on reviewing everything from the year and focusing in on what I don't understand well during the review week so that I will feel ready for the AP test.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Heart Week

It was heart week this week and even though we didn't do much it has been my favorite week of the year by far. Overall be watched a Blood and Guts episode which I thought was very interesting learning about this history of hearts and heart stuff, and I wish I could but sadly I don't have $800 lying around. We also made our own heart diagram at home which didn't turn out the very best and was pretty confusing trying to figure out the anatomy of the heart without and background information.
Day one of Heart week wasn't overly exciting as my heart was pretty frozen and there weren't many arteries or veins attached to it so it became slightly boring after a while. Day two was much more exciting however as I pretty much got to do the dissection by myself since Kirk wasn't really feeling heart week all that much. Being inside the heart and being able to track the path of the blood was helpful for me and made everything come together as all the words that I wrote on my diagram suddenly made sense. I also enjoyed feeling the lungs and trachea of the demo heart, however, I did find the esophagus rather disgusting to touch but I was fine with everything else. The only thing I didn't like about heart week was that my heart didn't have any extra attachments but it was still my favorite bio week to date. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of April 3 to April 7

Standards of the Week [5.1, 5.2, 5.3]

How did you do on your work:
This week we worked on the stickleback HHMI packet, the physiology project, and vodcasts 5.1 and 5.2. I feel that I did the stickleback packet well as it was kind of a throwback to evolution in unit one which I feel that I understand the best out of any unit that we have done this year. I also feel that I (and my group) did well on the physiology project. We divided and conquered, managing to do the whole thing in one class without leaving out any important information.

What do you understand well:
I feel that I understand the stickleback packet (standards 5.1 and 5.2) pretty well as it was pulling together stuff from different units throughout the year with evolution and DNA structure. I also understand the parts of the physiology project that I did for excretion as I had to understand to some extent before I added it to the informational paper.

Where do you think you can improve:
I think that I can improve upon learning the other parts of the physiology project (gas exchange, circulation, and nutrition) and the parts that I don't understand well on excretion. Learning about four different physiological systems in one day is a lot of information to take in, process, and retain.

What strategies will you use to improve:
To make sure that I understand the four physiological systems I will review each of the papers the groups made and look at the questions that other people asked as some of them were questions that I had. After reviewing the papers that the groups did I will go and do extra research of my own on anything that I am having trouble understanding.

How does the current work fit into the context of the course:
The work this week fits into the overall course as we can see many of the units that we have studied this year come together in the physiological systems. The systems developed the way they did due to evolution, they work the way they do because of signals they receive from the organism (hormones etc.), and they process matter that is made e.g oxygen produced in photosynthesis and needs to be excreted from plants.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Reflection for Week of Mar. 27 to Mar.31

Standards of the Week: [4.5, 4.6]

How did you do on your work:
This week we worked on the fruit fly inheritance, inheritance practice problems, and AP test multiple choice practice. I feel that I did well on the fruit fly lab and inheritance practice questions, as they were both similar in nature in terms of calculating and determining inheritance patterns. I also ended up getting lucky on the fly lab as the two genes of my choice ended up being simple autosomal dominant/recessive. With the multiple choice, I felt pretty good on it as all the questions covered evolution-related topics and that was my best unit this year and I felt that most of the questions were on the easier side.

What do you understand well:
I feel that I understand inheritance patterns well as this week was really on focused on that. Most inheritance patterns seem pretty straight forward, especially mendelian ones, and they were focused on in advanced biology so I have a pretty good base layer of knowledge going into this part of unit four.

Where do you think you can improve:
After doing the AP practice problems I realized just how much information is covered on the test and feel that I can improve upon some of my long-term knowledge retention I know for this unit and some of the other units in the past (mainly unit three) I am only memorizing certain portions of information for the test. This has worked for me so far through the year but will likely lead to problems during the actual AP test.

What strategies will you use to improve:
To improve upon my long-term content retention I will try to review what we have already learned in small increments to srefresh my mind on what we have learned. I will also try to learn the information and ask questions about anything that I am unsure about so that I can avoid simply memorizing information for a test and then forgetting it.

How does the current work fit into the context of the course:
This weeks work is an extension of last weeks work with more focus and practice with inheritance patterns. Inheritance patterns are related to genetics/DNA which is the basis of life, also inheritance patterns allow for variation among a population allowing for speciation/natural selection/evolution which is what unit one was focused on.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reflection for Week of Mar. 20 to Mar. 24

Standards of the Week [4.6, 4.7, 4.8]

How did you do on your work?
This week we worked on Punnett squares, Chi-squares, Mendelian genetics and the fungus tetrad activity. I felt pretty good on the work as the Mendelian genetics were mostly a review from last year and they are pretty straight forward. The fungus tetrad activity was a bit harder with finding the map distances but after asking Mrs. Cole it made sense and the whole activity came together.

What do you think you understand well?
I feel that I understand Mendelian genetics and Chi-square analyses pretty well now. As I said the Mendelian stuff is mainly review from last year and I did well on it, and with all the extra practice with Chi-squares I think I finally understand how to do them as two weeks ago I was having trouble as I am not in stats this year.

Where do you think you can improve?
I need to slow down on some of the simpler problems with genetics as I assume that I know what I am doing and don't end up reading the whole question or misreading a keyword in the problem. This then sets me up for failure when I do out the problem which isn't good. I think I could also use some time to work on remembering Mendel's laws as last year in chemistry I could never remember what law was what.

What strategies will you use to improve?
I will slow down when reading the question to make sure I am answering the correct question in the correct way. I will also review Mendel's laws until I understand what they are and how Mendel came to the conclusion that the laws were laws.

How does the current work fit into the context of the course?
Genes and alleles are parts of DNA which brings us back to the very basis of biology, DNA. DNA is the most important organic molecule because without it there would be no different species, no variation, and no life. This week also fits in well with the evolution unit as alleles affect what phenotype is expressed and natural selection often caters towards one phenotype or another like with the rock pocket mice being light or dark furred.