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.

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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cancer 3-2-1

Things that I learned:
1-The same cancer can be caused by several different sets of mutations.
2-Tumor suppressor genes were more common to be mutated from the two groups that I was in
3-That virotherapy is being used to treat liver cancer. I didn't know that virotherapy was a thing until this unit in bio and even after learning it was a thing I hadn't heard or read of any uses of it until doing this cancer activity.  

Things that surprised me:
1-The sets of mutations were very different within a single type of cancer. Some people only had two mutations while others with the same cancer had five or six mutations.
2-Certain genes were prevalent in several cancers such as JAK2 and especially TP53. I thought that each type of cancer would have its own set of mutated genes.

One Question that I have:
If several different cancers are caused mutations within the same chromosome and gene what causes one cancer to be different from another if the gene mutations are the same? Is it just where the cells are located in the body or something more complex?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Reflection for Week of Mar. 6 to Mar.10

Standards of the Week [4.4, 4.5, 4.7]

How did you do on your work?
This week we did a POGIL on cell division and a click and learn. I feel I did well on both for the most part; however, with the click and learn extension problems I had some trouble as they challenging for me with having to remember what mutations affect proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors, and with all the acronyms of the different proteins and remembering what each one does.

What do you think you understand well?
I feel that I understand standards 4.4 and 4.7 pretty well as we focused on mitosis and meiosis pretty heavily in advanced biology and throughout AP Bio this year we have learned about genetic variation with the information unit and evolution unit. I don't feel confident on diploid and haploid (n and 2n stuff) as I had trouble with it freshman year and we haven't gotten into much depth with it yet this year.

Where do you think you can improve?
I think I can improve on learning to identify each step of cell division in a cell as I missed that day in class and had some difficulty with this as a freshman. I think I can also improve on understanding proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors in greater depth. As of now I only understand the basics of proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors and the click and learn made me realize how complicated they really are.

What strategies will you use to improve?
To improve at identifying stages of cell division I will try to go to class during study hall to the activity I missed with looking at cells and looking at cells dividing online so I can easily identify the stages of cell division. To understand proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors I will review the click and learn and ask questions about them as they come up.

How does the current work fit the context of the course?
Cancer and cell division goes along with what we recently learned about the structure of DNA and how it replicates because for a cell to divide DNA must replicate. Also knowing how errors can appear in DNA to cause side effects such as cancer within an organism. Another connection is with evolution and how genetic variation needs to exist we are now learning about how sexually and asexually reproducing organisms gain genetic variation allowing for things such as natural selection.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of Feb. 27 to Mar. 3

Standards of the week: [4.3 and 4.4]

How did you do on your work?
This week we discoed the virus vodcast and spent the week doing the PCR lab and comparing our class data to other data sets around the world using chi-square. I feel that I did very well on the PCR lab, especially since I was the only one in my group to have a band show up after electrophoresis even if it was very faint. I had also had previous experience with parts of the PCR lab with my freshman year science fair experiment using electrophoresis to compare proteins in different types of meats.

What do you understand well?
I understand PCR pretty well after doing the lab. When reading about PCR and reading the prelab for it there were a few parts that I was confused one, but for the most part I understood it. After doing the lab the parts I was confused about were then cleared up as it did them.

Where do you think you can improve?
I think I can improve on using the chi-square. I am not in stats this year so I don't feel that confident with using the chi-square and comparing the results. With doing the PCR lab and comparing our data to other data with chi-square I should get enough practice with chi-square to feel more confident doing them.

What strategies can you use to improve?
As I said above just doing more chi-square problems can help me become more confident in using them, and in this lab we have to use them so I am getting the practice that I need with chi-square.

How does this work fit into the context/narrative of the course?
The work we did this fits in well with the context of the course. Before doing the PCR lab we learned about different biotechnologies and how they can be applied in real life, the Mystery of Jeff worksheet for example. We then used PCR, a very major biotech tool and are using the data to see how we compare to other groups of people around the world, a real life application. Also in order to understand how PCR works we had to have knowledge about the structure of DNA and the process of DNA replication.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of Feb. 6 to Feb. 10

Standards of the week: [4.1 and 4.2]

How did you do on the work?
This week we worked on vodcast 4.3, the mutation packet, and the play-doh transcription project. I did well on the mutation packet as I find mutations interesting so the information just comes to me easily. I also feel I did well with the play-doh project as my partner and I worked well together and we just about finished the project in the two classes.

What do you think you understand well?
I feel that the play-doh project helped me to solidify the information about transcription and translation that we learned in vodcast 4.2. Working through the process step by step and showing how each step works helped to clear up the confusion that I had when I initially learned the information. I also feel that I understand mutations pretty well after doing the mutation packet, and in general, mutations seem pretty straight forward to me. 

Where do you think you could improve?
I feel that I can improve upon the vodcasts. I spread the notetaking of 4.3 out over the course of the week which was helpful as it didn't overload me; however, I didn't work on any of the WSQ's so this weekend I had to do all three. In the future, if we have any more large vodcasts I will try to spread out doing the WSQ's along with spreading out the notetaking.

What strategies will you use to improve?
In the future I will try to do the WSQ's earlier in the week to that I don't have to do them all right before they are due. I will also try to start reviewing the information a little sooner than I usually do before quizzes and tests as there were a few questions I was unsure about on this weeks quiz.

How does the work we are doing fit into the context/narrative of the course?
This week's work was an extension of last weeks work and as I said DNA is the basis of everything in biology. Without it, the field of biolo
gy can't exist. We also learned about biotechnology with week which not only relates DNA and RNA to biology but to real life uses of DNA and RNA showing that information in biology extends into everyday parts of life.

and Tatum's experiment. I didn't understand their experiment based on the information on the prezi so I had to do som

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of Jan. 30 to Feb. 3

Standards of the week: [4.1]

How did you do on the work?
This week we worked on vodcasts 4.1 and 4.2 along with two POGIL packets in class. I felt that I did well on the work as a good portion of the packets and part one of 4.2 was a review of what we learned back in advanced biology. I had some trouble on the harder WSQ questions, in particular, the one about Beadle and Tatum's experiment. I didn't understand their experiment based on the information on the prezi so I had to do some extra research on it, but in doing so I was able to figure out their experiment and the importance the results have in biology.

What do you think you understand well?
I feel that I understand the bulk of the information this week as it was more of a review of freshman biology, but looking over some of the more detailed aspects of central dogma would be beneficial to me in order to reinforce what I have learned this past week.

Where do you think you improve?
I feel that I could improve upon my diagrams as I can't visualize the processes of translation and transcription so more detailed diagrams will be helpful for me to look back at. I also feel that I should recap on some of the more important aspects of each vodcast so I reinforce the intended ideas behind it rather than just writing down what is on the screen and answering the WSQ questions.

What strategies will you use to improve?
As I discussed above reviewing the central messages of each vodcast and just taking the time to go over and process my notes is what I will try to improve upon so that I am able to retain the information rather than just memorizing it for the DISCO and the quizzes. I will also try to do more research on what I don't understand in the form of watching the extra videos on the vodcasts, using the textbook, or asking questions during the discos.

How does the work we are doing fit into the context/narrative of the course?
The work we are doing now fits in with everything we have already learned. Mutations cause variance in a population which leads to natural selection. DNA codes for proteins and enzymes which are used in photosynthesis and cell respiration. The structure of DNA relates back to the bonds and structure we learned about in unit two. DNA is the basis of everything in biology and without there can't be biology.