Stable and Radioactive Isotopes

We began the class period with an entry task (solution shown below) to review average atomic mass calculations.  We followed it with an “After” Entry Task which introduced students to the Chart of Naturally Occurring Isotopes. Pictures of both are shown below:



Next, we watched a segment of the NOVA video Hunting the Elements, beginning at 1:39:33 and ending at 1:52:04.  The video served to remind students about last week’s lesson about isotopes (Lesson 13) and to help prepare them for our work this week.

After the video, students received copies of the Lesson 14 Worksheet and had time to complete the front side of the worksheet before class ended. Students were introduced to yet another way to write isotopes (below):


We will work through the remainder of the handout tomorrow.  The Lesson 14 PowerPoint is provided for reference.

Atomic Number and Atomic Mass

Our work today address the Key Question: How are the atoms of one element different from those of another element?  To get started, the entry task asked students to draw a model of a boron (B) atom and label the parts.

After the Entry Task, students received their graded Chapter 2 Quiz and we reviewed as a class.

Next, students reviewed the parts of atoms by watching the Crash Course video below:

After the video, we briefly reviewed the main ideas from lesson 12 from the textbook and students had the opportunity to update their model of a boron atom from the Entry Task.  Key learnings:

  • Atomic number = # of protons in one atom of a given element
  • Protons have a positive charge
  • Electrons have a negative charge
  • Neutral atoms have equal numbers of protons and electrons
  • Atomic mass = (# of protons) + (# of neutrons) in one atom of a given element
  • Neutrons have no charge

Finally, students had the remainder of the class period to worked on the Lesson 12 Worksheet.  Students who need more practice with this lesson should ask the teacher for  the Element Builder Gizmo packet which will earn students credit for one bonus assignment.

Notes from class:




Models of the Atom

Chapter 3 begins with a historical study of how early chemists used experimentation and reasoning to assemble models of the atom.  The Lesson 11 PowerPoint provides key vocabulary around the components of the atom (proton, electron, neutron, and nucleus). To help bring these concepts to life, we watched the Crash Course video below:

After the video, students worked with a partner through the Lesson 11 Worksheet, using a handout explaining the five models of the atom.  Notes from class are shown below:


Extend Your Learning!

Click on the infographic below to enlarge the graphic.  There is an excellent article accompanying the infographic as well that is highly encouraged reading.


Wonder what an atom actually looks like?  Using a “quantum-style” microscope, atoms of hydrogen can be seen – check out the article “Smile Hydrogen, You’re on Quantum Camera” from New Scientist magazine (2013).

Week 5

Monday, September 30 (HS-LS1-1): Our week began with a brief class discussion in which students shared out what they know (or think they know) already about DNA.  Students then received a worksheet with questions that were answered by watching The Double Helix video.

After sharing out answers from the video, students received a guided worksheet and instructions for how to complete the first half of the first page.  We will continue the work tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 1 (HS-LS1-1): Today we launched into an investigation of Central Dogma.  Students learned how DNA codes for RNA which codes for protein, with everyone drawing out the notes shown below.  We drew out the processes of transcription and translation, using the guided worksheet from yesterday to help students understand what happens at each step of the process.  We will continue our exploration of Central Dogma and complete the worksheet packet tomorrow.

Notes from class:



Wednesday, October 2 (HS-LS1-1): We completed our tour of Central Dogma with students working through the final page of the guided worksheet from yesterday.  Drawings and the worksheets were both turned in for credit.

Next, we learned about the information contained in DNA.  We watched a thought-provoking video about a scientist who has combined a variety of tools and technologies to turn DNA from hair into portraits using 3-D printing and concluded class with a discussion about how the technology will impact people in the near future.

Thursday, October 3 (HS-LS1-1): In our continued study of Central Dogma, we set our sights on extracting DNA from strawberries.  To prepare for the lab, students watched a video explaining the DNA extraction procedure (produced by the North Carolina Community Colleges group  Students watched the video and wrote down as many details as they could.

After watching the video, we assembled one class procedure “crowd-sourced” from the all of the student notes.


Students had the remainder of the class period to type up their notes as the Procedure section of a lab report.

Friday, October 4 (HS-LS1-1): Students will conduct the strawberry DNA extraction lab.  All materials, procedure steps, and results must be documented in their lab notebooks which will be checked and graded for accuracy and completion.

Week 4

Monday, September 23 (HS-LS1-5): We will begin the week with The Digestive System video by Mr. Anderson at Bozeman Science to review this important area of study.

After the video, students will have the remainder of class to complete the Digestive System Gizmo activity packet from last week.


Watch the Biological Molecules Crash Course video (below) and complete the associated worksheet.

Tuesday, September 24 and Wednesday, September 25: Half of the 9th grade class is scheduled to visit Camp Waskowitz, so students who are in biology class today will have the class period to begin writing a lab report detailing the corn seed germination and corn plant growth experiment.

The lab report must include:

  • Student name
  • Lab report title
  • Introduction (explain the purpose of the lab)
  • Procedure (numbered list of steps someone could follow to recreate the experiment you are reporting on)
  • Results (observations from the lab, including how many seeds were germination, how many days it took for germination to happen for each seed, and daily plant growth)
  • Conclusion (what was learned, three areas of improvement, and explanation of the “next” experiment)

Thursday, September 26: Students have the entire class period to complete the plant experiment lab report.  Students who finish the lab report early will begin constructing molecular models for the photosynthesis and cellular respiration activity tomorrow.

Friday, September 27 (HS-LS1-5, HS-LS1-7): For our short Friday class period, students will use molecular modeling kits to build the molecules involved in both photosynthesis and cellular respiration.  Students will learn how to balance both equations and will understand the concept of energy stored in the bonds of molecules.

Notes from class:



The Periodic Table

Class began with a video about Dmitri Mendeleev and the Periodic Table.

Next, students went back to work in small groups, tackling the Lesson 10 worksheet with their groups from Lesson 9.  They reconstructed their periodic tables using the cards from Lesson 9, then identified trends in the table to fill in the worksheet.  After completing the worksheet, students received a paper copy of the Periodic Table to use on exams and quizzes and then had the remainder of the class period to read and take notes on lesson 10 using the textbook as well as the Power Point slides.

Notes from class:

Current Periodic Table:


Bonus Learning Opportunity

For pleasure, students should consider reading a few pages from Sam Kean’s book titled The Disappearing Spoon.  Click this link for the section of the book about Ytterby Lanthanides.  It begins with the sentence “In 1701, a braggadocian teenager…” and you will need to click the hyperlinked blue “Page >>” in the upper left hand corner to reveal the full reading passage.  Continue reading through the next three full pages ending in “…Galapagos Island of the periodic table.”  You will be glad you did!