Biology

Module #1: Bacteria – Friday December 2, 2011

This week, the students had the opportunity to learn about the bacteria that is all around them, in more ways than one. First, they were given a lesson about the different types of bacteria and how they live, move and reproduce. Then they heard all of the things bacteria do for people, both good and bad. Finally, they had the opportunity to see how common bacteria really are. Each of the students took a sample of the bacteria on his or her thumb using a bacteria cultures on an agar plate, preceded by different cleaning techniques, ranging from nothing to soap and hot water to purell. The students also got to swab places in the classroom to see how much bacteria there are there, and to compare their hypotheses about which place will have the most and which will have the least. Next week, we’ll see the results of those tests, and the cultures are in an incubator as we speak.

Module #2: Bacteriology Continued, and the Cow Eye Dissection – Friday December 9, 2011

The second week we presented the students with what they grew. In total we discovered at least four different types of bacteria, and we noted that a fungus contaminated some of our results. As expected, the Purell group grew the least bacteria from their hands. Two different groups had swabbed the doorknob: one group grew three different types of bacteria, while the other grew none. We were all puzzled for a few moments, and then we realized the group with no bacterial growth swabbed a part of the doorknob nobody ever touches!

We then handed out lab coats to all the students and every table dissected a cow eye. We demonstrated basic eye anatomy: the surrounding fat and muscle, the optic nerve, the cornea, the iris, the lens, and the retina. Some students were more excited about the difference between the aqueous and vitreous humors than others, but every student was definitely interested.

Module #3: Mammalian Hearts – Friday December 9, 2011

For this START biology module, we introduced our students to the wonders of the heart. We began with a slideshow presentation that taught about the different anatomical parts of the human heart: the atria and ventricles, the tricuspid and bicuspid valves, the muscular walls, and the incoming veins and outgoing arteries. The students learned how efficiently the heart and blood spread crucial oxygen and nutrients throughout the whole body. We then made this lesson hands-on by splitting into groups and dissecting sheep hearts. The students were able to see and touch the different chambers and valves, and they could envision the flow of blood in a beating heart.

Module #4: Sheep Heart Dissection 2, Nutrition – Friday December 16, 2011

In order to further familiarize the students with the hearts, the second module gave the students the opportunity to have a close interaction with a group leader, reinforcing the material covered in the previous week. The focus of this week, however, was to make the students aware of the effect of food intake and exercise on the proper functioning of the heart. A slideshow showed the path a hamburger takes from the mouth, to the digestion into nutrients, absorption in the bloodstream, leading to the heart which has as function to spread those nutrients. Since this is all hard work for the heart, it needs to be strong, which is achieved by exercise. The students came up with different types of exercises such as running and thinking, and we laughed together for 30 seconds to implement the exercise right there and then.

Module #5: Heart Dissection, Externals & Internals – Friday December 16 and 23, 2011

This module focused on the structure and function of the mammalian heart. Our members discussed the structure of the heart, the various, unique types of cells that comprise it, the electrocardio system that drives the heart, and the various features of the heart that allow it to function as the body’s blood pump. Our members then proceeded to guide the students through a dissection of sheeps’ hearts. During these dissections, the students identified the anatomical structures of the heart such as the aorta, vena cava, atria, ventricles, valves, nodes, arteries, and veins. They then were encouraged to think about how each of these structures contributes to the various functions of the heart. The students’ understanding was tested through an interactive SmartBoard game in which they dragged the label of each of the heart’s primary anatomical components to its proper location.

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