Monday, May 30, 2011

Final Exam Breakdown

Here's the breakdown of your exam:

3 multiple choice questions
3 open response questions

1 open response question

12 multiple choice
2 open response

14 multiple choice
5 open response

6 multiple choice
3 open response

1 free point question half way through the exam.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Review Quiz 3 & Wrapping Up Bioethics

Yesterday students had their final review quiz (see answers below). We also spent the past two days learning how scarce resources are allocated, specifically, organs. We debated on the criteria that should be used to determine who would receive an organ and who wouldn't. Today, using that criteria we looked at four different cases to debate who should receive the transplant.

The big take away, "This is hard! Everyone should be able to have an organ." Too bad it's not like that in real life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review Quiz 2 & a Debate

Today students had a review quiz on DNA replication, transcription and translation. After the quiz, students debated the issue of using enhancements in sports.

Students were given a list of statements to debate and chose the following:

G period debated: Does using enhancements in sports violate what people value most about sports?

D period debated: Is it fair for an individual to use an enhancement?

F period debated: Does using enhancements in sports violate what people value most about sports?

Tomorrow/Thursday we'll be taking a look at allocating scare resources in the case of organ transplants. On Friday you'll have a debate about allocating organs. Your next review quiz is on evolution.

Here are the answers for today's quiz. Click the picture to make it larger.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review Quiz 1 & Bioethics

After completing the short review quiz (see questions and answers below), we examined four core ethical considerations from module 1 of the NIH's curriculum:

1. Respect for persons
2. Harms and benefits
3. Fairness
4. Authenticity

We read a case study about a high school athlete and his potential use of steroids. Tomorrow we will have a debate about steroid use in athletes and the ethical questions raised by the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Tomorrow your review quiz will be on chapter 12 & the packets that go along with it.

Click the picture to make the page full size.
This way you can check your answers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

No Book? No Final Exam!

You must either return your textbook or pay for it to take the final exam. Below are the book numbers that have been assigned to you. The book number is in a red square on the inside front cover. You must return YOUR book, not a book that belongs to someone else. Of course if you see a stray book in the dorm, snack bar or lost and found closet, please turn it in!

Click the picture to make it larger.

What is bioethics?

Today we started our last unit of the year, using the NIH's bioethics curriculum. At the end of the fall term we used the NIH's Drugs, Brain and Behavior curriculum and had lots of thought provoking discussions; I suspect this unit we be the same.

Our goal for today was to define 'ethics' and assess the difference between ethical, legal and scientific questions. We ended class today discussing the case of Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who uses cheetah legs to run, addressing such questions as:
• Should the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF)
allow Oscar Pistorius to compete?
• Should artificial limbs be permitted in organized sports competitions?
• Should Pistorius be allowed to compete in the Olympics?
• What alterations to the human body create an unfair advantage?

Below is a clip of Pistorius at the Bejing Paraolympics in the 100 meter dash.

Homework: On Monday you will have a short (10-15) question quiz on genetics. The questions and answers will be posted on the blog at the end of the day so you can check your work. It's never too early to start studying, so go!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Check it out! Below the title of the blog and our/my favorite educational quote are a series of tabs that organize all of the helpful links.

You'll find the information about the final exam under "General Information."

Need to brush up on evolution for the final exam? Click on the evolution tab and see what you'll find.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Statistics

Chocolate statistics

Initial observations

Look at your chocolates. Which do you think has the greater mass, a Smartie or an M&M? Or do you think they have the same mass?

Now touch your chocolates and ask yourself the same question.

Create a Hypothesis 1 (H1) and a Null Hypothesis (H0 )

Data Collection

How many Smarties/ M&Ms do you think you would need to measure the mass of to collect enough data to be sure of your answer?

Measure the mass of your Smarties. Now do the same for your M&Ms.

Record the data in an appropriate table. Don’t forget to include the units and the uncertainties of your equipment.

Data Processing

Calculate the arithmetic mean mass for your Smarties.

Now do the same for your M&Ms.

Calculate the Standard Deviations.

Perform an unpaired t-test on your results.

Data Presentation

Draw a graph of your results. Include error bars.

Conclusion and Evaluation

Which hypothesis can you accept/reject and why?

What were the possible errors in your experiment?

Calculating Standard Deviation

The Standard deviation (SD, s or ) of the mean tells us how spread out the reading are ( the ‘spreadoutness’ of the data).

1. Calculate the mean

2. Measure the deviations

3. Square the deviations

4. Add the squared deviations

5. Divide by the number of samples minus 1

6. Square root the answer

Ask your math teacher to show you how to calculate the standard deviation on your calculator. Or…. Just use Excel :)

The unpaired t-test

Go to

and enter your data.

Your analysis is due by the end of class on Friday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Starting Review

Today students worked on test corrections and we reviewed genetics. The labels in the right side bar of the blog will be really helpful for reviewing for the final exam. Click on the genetics label to see everything we have done on that topic.

Tomorrow (or Thursday) depending on when you have class, we will be doing the Smarties vs. MMs lab. One person in your group should bring a computer to collect the data.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Data Manipulation in Excel

Today students finished graphing with Excel and learned how to add standard deviation bars. Tomorrow we'll go over the macromolecules test and do a bit of review for genetics.

Please bring a computer to class on Wednesday/Thursday so we can collect the data for the Smarties vs. MMs lab.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Test Today

Today students took a test on macromolecules and the properties of water. This test covered the BIG concepts we've been learning about for the past two weeks. Think of it as a warm up for the final exam. A few students who were absent will need to take the test on Monday, but if you were in class on Friday, you will be able to see your grade on Monday. On Tuesday we will go over the test.

And now, your homework....

By Monday at 3:35 PM, email me the answers to the following questions:

1. What assignment are you most proud of from this class and why?

2. How does this work demonstrate your skills and abilities in Biology?

3. What was challenging or interesting about this project?

4. If you had to do this again, what would you do differently?

5. What did you work the hardest on? Was it a specific project, studying for a test, learning to be organized etc?

6. What was the most interesting thing to learn about this spring term? In case you’ve forgotten all that we have done, look back through the blog archive.

7. What were the biggest challenges to your success in this class?

8. How did you work to overcome these challenges?

9. How have you changed as a student from the start of the year to now?

10. What can you teach others about Biology that you couldn't before?

11. Is there a skill that you learned in this class that can help you in other classes, if so what it it? (don't you dare write "nothing" because you are tired of writing.

Part 2:

What are three things you think I do well as a teacher?

What are three things (or areas) where you think I could improve as a teacher?
** I know that you folks weren't big fans of the test you took today as illustrated by the number of "OMG's" that were uttered in various languages. Consider that feedback received loud and clear, and try to think about other ways to improve the class for future students. **

What is one piece of advice you would give to students who are taking this class next year?

Anything else I should know?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Test Tomorrow

Tomorrow you have your test on macromolecules and the properties of water.

Please bring your computer to class on Monday so we can finish the assignment from the post below.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Data Manipulation in Excel

Excel can be used for many things: quickly finding the mean for a set of data, calculating standard deviation and even......... making a cartoon of Mike Tyson. Today students completed a worksheet on their computers where they needed to manipulate sets of data. Below is the worksheet with the hyperlinks.

Homework: study for your test on Friday. The information on standard deviation will be on the final exam, but not on the test on Friday.

Using Excel to Manipulate Data

A. Open the first file: 2003 American League Baseball Salaries

1. List three ways in which you could manipulate this data.

2. Sort the data so that each position is grouped together. Make sure that the salary of each player stays with the correct position. How many catchers are there?

Find the mean salary for each of the positions and fill in the information in the table below.


1st Base




3rd base

2nd base

Which position has the highest mean salary?

B. Open the Price of Electricity file.

3. How many years have complete records for the price of electricity?

4. Create a scatter plot in Excel (or numbers) showing the average price in electricity for the years 1986-1996. Make sure to correctly label the x and y axis and write a title for the graph. Add your graph to this word document. Unsure how to make an xy scatter plot? Click through this PowerPoint if you are a Mac user.

5. In your own words, explain standard deviation in the space below. If you don’t know what standard deviation is, read about it here (it’s the first term on the list).

6. Go back to your Excel / Numbers file. Calculate the standard deviation for 1986-1995. To do this, click in the cell next to the annual average and type =STDEV(

Then highlight the data for each month in that specific year

Close the ) and press enter/return.

Highlight this cell and place the cursor on the edge of the cell so it changes from an arrow to a +

Drag the blue edge straight down the column, until you have reached 1995.

You now have the standard deviation for each year.

7. Add standard deviation bars to your graph. If you do not know how to do this, watch this video if you use a Mac or watch this video if you have the new version of Windows. You may only be able to add the error bars for three years at a time.

8. Turn your graph from an xy scatter plot into a bar graph. Again, make sure it is correctly labeled.

9. What does the green triangle in the left top corner of each standard deviation box signify?

10. Which year had the most consistent gas price?

11. Which year had the largest standard deviation? What does this tell you about the gas prices that year, compared to the other years?

12. On a scale of 1-10 (ten being impossible, one being super easy) how hard was this assignment? Please write the name of each person in the group and his/her response

13. Please complete the feedback table below. For each of the four tasks, please write if you already knew how do to this or what it is. Write yes if you knew it before or no if you didn’t not know it before class today.


What standard deviation is

How to find standard deviation

How to add error bars to a graph

How to find the mean using Excel

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Google Data

Google Data Interpretation.

Part 1: Click the picture below to access the world fertility data.

Part 2: Use Google Public Data to practice interpreting data. Choose any data set you want. Interpret the data as if it were the results of an experiment you did.

Homework: study for your test on Friday

Friday, May 6, 2011


Today we focused on the third class of macromolecules: Proteins.

Brace yourself for this shocking discovery....proteins are formed when amino acids are joined together by peptide bonds and when water is removed! Are we noticing a trend yet....?

Proteins having many functions including as enzymes and transport molecules. We didn't spend a lot of time on enzymes because we learned about this in the fall. Click here to see a video of how enzymes work.

Proteins play in an important role in transport of molecules across a cell membrane. As you know, phospholipids have a hydrophylic head and hydrophobic tail. In order for the transport proteins to maintain their location in the bilayer they have to have polar and nonpolar components.

There is no homework for Monday other than to study for your test on Friday May 13th.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Today students completed a short guided notes sheet, before building models of various fatty acids.

Homework: Due Friday (courtesy of Mrs. Yust-Averett). Answer the questions below, you do not need to write the questions, just the number of the question.

1. What is the elemental composition of lipids?

How can you differentiate between carbohydrates and lipids when looking at a molecule or given a chemical formula?

3. What are the 4 main types of lipids (molecules)? (you will need to look this up).

4. What are the main functions of lipids?

5. What type of covalent bond (linkage) can be found between a glycerol molecule and fatty acid tails?

6. Are lipids polar or non-polar? How does this effect their interaction with water?

7. Explain the structure of triglycerides (look this up).

8. What is the main function of triglycerides (look this up).

9. Compare saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (number of hydrogen atoms, physical state at room temperature, healthy or unhealthy, single or double bonds between carbon atoms, ease broken down by body, sources found in nature, food examples) (look this up).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Carbohydrate Structure

Today students built models of carbohydrates and learned how monosaccharides join together to form di and polysaccharides.

Carbohydrates Homework Questions

1. Which elements do carbohydrates contain, and in what ratio?

2. If a sugar compound has 11 oxygen atoms, how many hydrogen atoms does it contain?

3. Based on their molecular formulas, which of the following are NOT carbohydrates?

a. C3H803
b. C10H18O9
c. C18H32O16
d. C4H8O2
e. C16H32O2
f. C6H12O6

4. For each molecule below, determine if it is a monosaccharide, a disaccharide, or a polysaccharide. You will need to look these up on your own.

a. Fructose

b. Ribose

c. Cellulose

d. Glucose

e. Sucrose

f. Glycogen

5. Describe a biological function for each of the following carbohydrates
a. Cellulose
b. Ribose
c. Starch
d. Glycogen
e. Deoxyribose
f. Fructose
g. Sucrose

6. Draw the molecular structure of the following carbohydrates:

7. Briefly describe the process of the condensation reaction (dehydration synthesis) for carbohydrates.

8. Briefly describe the process of the hydrolysis reaction for carbohydrates.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Welcome Back! (to chemistry)

Over the next two weeks we will be reviewing some of the chemistry we learned at the beginning of the year, as well as going into more depth on the structure of molecules. This information is NOT in your textbook, so you will have more class handouts use additional websites.

Today we talked about what elements make up the human body and their functions, as well as how these elements compare to the elements in the Earth's crust. We also learned about the properties of water.

Homework: Read each statement below and explain (in 2-3 sentences per statement) how the properties of water are related to the phenomena that are described. More than one property may be used to explain a given phenomena.

1. During the winter months, air temperatures in the northern United States can remain below zero deg. C for months; however the fish and other animals living in the lakes survive.

2. Many substances, for example salt, dissolve in water very quickly.

3. When you pour water into a 25 mL graduated cylinder, a meniscus forms at the top of the water column.

4. Sweating and the evaporation of sweat from the body surface help reduce a human's body temperature.

5. A bottle contains oil and water. You shake the bottle vigorously and put it on the table. Over time, the oil and water separate.

6. If you touch the edge of a paper towel with water, the water will move up into (or be absorbed by) the towel.

Here's a reminder of some of the properties of water:
Life as we know it could not exist without water. All the chemical reactions of life occur in aqueous solution. Water molecules are polar and are capable of forming hydrogen bonds with other polar or charged molecules. As a result, water has the following properties:

A. H2O molecules are cohesive; they form hydrogen bonds with each other.

B. H2O molecules are adhesive; they form hydrogen bonds with polar surfaces.

C. Water is a liquid at normal physiological (or body) temperatures.

D. Water has a high specific heat.

E. Water has a high heat of vaporization.

F. Water’s greatest density occurs at 4°C.

Here's a link about water & hydrogen bonds that you might find helpful.