Day 81: Last Day of 2013

What a day. We always start with the holiday assembly (my favorite of the year). The talent of our kids amazes me as well as the politeness of those in the audience. At the end my student council kids announced the kick-off of our mini-THON on February 28th with a video and a short talk from a student who survived pediatric cancer.


Back to advisory where we all wore “ugly” sweaters. Two students I had last year stopped by to show off their holiday garb. Chelsea and Amber (aka Chelber) rocked it!


All day I had this fire going in my room with holiday music when students weren’t taking the notebook quiz!


See you all on the other side as Day 82 post will not be until 1/2/14!

Day 80: Motion Detectors


IS II students did Part I of the Graph Matching lab. They played around with and got used to the motion detectors and Logger Pro. They were asked to use their hand to make graphs of certain shapes – “what does fast away and slow towards look like?” They needed to set the parameters for data collection and then save and annotate their graphs. They needed to understand that slope gave velocity (steeper slope = greater speed, (+) slope = away from detector, (-) slope = towards detector). All in less than 50 minutes, whew! The next time they will “walk the walk” and match their own body movement with distance-time graphs. (Oh, it was hat day — $1 allowed student to wear a hat to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund and our miniTHON).

Day 79: Whiteboards for Understanding


IS I students used the whiteboards today to show me (and themselves) that they understood the osmosis that was taking place in their model cell membranes. With a little prodding, the diagrams revealed some misconceptions and then understanding.


IS II students used the whiteboards to take the “texting” challenge. I returned, and we reviewed, the last quiz that they took in the chemistry unit and we are about to work with motion detectors tomorrow so this made for a great “bridge” activity. The first class really got into it and did a nice job. Thanks to Frank Noschese for the idea!




Day 78: Modeling Movement across Cell Membranes


IS I students set up their cell membrane models. Half put iodine solution in the baggie and placed it in a starch solution. The other half put the starch solution in the baggie and surrounded it with the iodine solution. The lab calls for a simple qualitative look at the movement of molecules across a membrane. We decided to mass the bag and its contents to get some quantitative data. We will check back in a day and then two or three.

Day 75: Enzyme Lab


IS I students investigated the effect of hydrogen peroxidase in the decomposition reaction of hydrogen peroxide. They prepared different concentrations of the enzyme solution (obtained by blending water and potatoes), then soaked small disks of filter paper in the solutions (disks made with hole-punch and filter paper) and timed how long the disk took to rise to the surface in a beaker of hydrogen peroxide. Groups had extra time to create their own solution of enzyme of a different concentration than called for in the lab. Good inquiry activity.

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Took a few minutes in IS II to discuss a great TED talk about what makes great pioneers be able to do what they do. The common thread is a sense of purpose (the WHY in the “Golden Circle” above). I reminded them that I need to focus on the WHY with them and they need to ask! They get the what (learning to balance chemical reactions) and the how (they know the mechanics of balancing a reaction) so we worked on the why for a few minutes today (pattern recognition, ratio of ingredients, production of just about anything).

Day 74: “What Does the Spleen Do?”

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Crazy couple of days! Monday we had a 2 hour delay, yesterday a snow day, and today a 2 hour delay. Other science teachers know that this means some things just can’t be started (labs) as they don’t fit into shorter periods. My mood was brightened by a former student sending me info for my “Where Are They Now?” display. I love the part about not being a great science student in HS and keeping your options open! You MUST view the viral video “What Does the Spleen Do?” as Dan is the 2nd male soloist! Over 500,000 hits as of today!

Day 73: Scripting a Lab with Whiteboards


Short periods today due to a 2 hour delay. We had about 3-4 inches of snow yesterday and then freezing rain overnight. No time to conduct the lab today so the IS I students “storyboarded” the enzyme lab (hydrogen peroxidase). They were to ask questions if they did not understand the procedure. This should will make the lab run smoother I hope!

Day 72: The Nutcracker


Personal day today as I am involved with the Pa Regional Ballet (my daughter danced with them before her BFA from NYU) and their production of The Nutcracker. PRB does school shows on Friday for Harrisburg area school children so even when away from the classroom I am still in front of students! I did spend some down time playing with the Vine app (check out my first video) and thinking of ways that my students could use it in the classroom. I can see some use of whiteboards and having student explain concepts in 6 second videos.