Evolution: Evolving Bodies, Evolving Switches

Today, students watched the HHMI Biointeractive video titled Evolving Bodies, Evolving Switches (watch below).  The video explains how the stickleback fish has evolved and adapted to its environment, and shows how scientists are using genetics to further understanding of evolution as well as developmental biology.  After watching the video, students completed a worksheet to reinforce and extend their learning.

Evolution: Evolution Unit Review

With the extra advisory period inserted into the day to enable students to complete the final school-wide writing to explain assessment, we used the shortened class period to review the learning thus far in the evolution unit.  We crowd-sourced a set of class notes and an example from one of the class periods is pictured below.  We covered the major learning concepts from the Cosmos video, the malaria/sickle cell case study, the icefish video, and the evolution of Darwin’s finches.

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Toxins: Mass-Mole Conversions

Lesson 78 provided students with additional practice converting from mass to moles and from moles to mass.  The Lesson 78 PowerPoint ChemCatalyst activity asked students to predict whether arsenic (As), arsenic oxide (As2O3), or arsenic sulfide (As2S3) was most toxic.  Students had to consider how many atoms of arsenic are in each molecule, and which has more molecules in a fixed mass.  Some of the work from the entry task is shown below:

For the Lesson 78 Worksheet, students worked in pairs to complete the questions.  For homework, students were assigned questions 5-8 from the textbook.

Toxins: Molar Mass

Today’s work began with the ChemCatalyst from the Lesson 77 PowerPoint.  Students considered the question for a few minutes and were once again reminded how abstract the idea of the mole really is.  To help bring the concept of the mole to life, students worked through the Lesson 77 Worksheet.  The worksheet consisted of two parts, with Part 1 asking students to work through some of the math behind calculating molar mass.  Then in Part 2, students participated in a lab activity where they were able to actually measure out and visualize what one mole of various materials look like.  Students worked with water, table salt, aluminum, nickel, and iron.  For homework, students were assigned textbook questions 5-7.

Answers for Part 1 are shown below:

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Evolution: The Beak of the Finch

After an eventful start to the day in which we briefly lost power at our school and our digital classroom wall clocks are hours off, we decided to start the class period with Jack Horner’s entertaining TED Talk in which he describes his research connecting dinosaurs and chickens.

After the video, we returned to our discussion of Darwin’s finches from yesterday’s lesson.  Students watched the HHMI video The Beak of the Finch (below) and then set to work on the accompanying worksheet packet.  We will continue our work tomorrow during the short Friday class period.  Students who finish early are encouraged to try the Finch Song Activity on the HHMI website.