Saturday, June 3, 2017

Week of May 29 to June 2

     This was the fourth week of Genius Hour and it went okay. Unfortunately, another petri dish became contaminated but I still have five or so plates that were growing fine and had no sign of contamination. I also used the dissecting scope and a scalpel to try and extract the mycelium which didn't work but has been the most successful attempt so far. I am able to see and move individual strands of mycelium (which are still very small even under a microscope); however, the mycelium kept clumping up and during into a wet, unusable mass. I placed the Petri dishes into the incubator for the weekend to dry the mycelium out so that hopefully when I try the next extraction I can avoid turning the mycelium into one big wet clump. Drying out the mycelium is my last hope for success because if it fails I will have run out of time, samples, and ideas on how to extract the mycelium. Despite the lack of success with my experiment so far I still have hope for my idea and have come up with other experiments involving mycelium that I might try in the future but for now, I am praying that drying the mycelium will work and looking forward to seeing the senior presentations.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Week of May 22 to May 26

     This has been the third week of Genius Hour and I ran into a few snags. Two out of my three original Petri dishes became contaminated with green mold and I had to throw them away. The third dish is still growing very well and appears have a lot of mycelium. I also started growing another five plates which should help to make up for the two contaminated dishes. I also found of that extracting the mycelium is extremely, extremely difficult to extract intact. as I did a test run on a contaminated dish. I looked at some mycelium under a microscope and found the reason for the difficulty in extracting is that the mycelium is very, very, very small and thus fragile. I am trying to come up with some ideas to see if I can successfully extract the mycelium but as of now I only have one idea that will hopefully work. For now, all I can do is wait for the mycelium to grow and hope that I can extract some mycelium or else the end result of my experiment will end in failure.

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.