Category Archives: biology

Biology Lab Questions

This will be linked to the FAQ question post.

Reader’s question:  Could you explain what you require in a formal lab report and if you feel that all labs lend themselves to a formal write up?

I have my students write (type) a semi-formal lab report. I do not have them write a hypothesis for Biology, but I do require it for Physical Science and Chemistry.  For the conclusion, the students are to write a paragraph (high school level) describing the object they are looking at.   For example for the worm, they should write how it breathes, eats, crawls, explain the different systems, etc.  Students opinions are not acceptable.   I use to say write what you learned and all I would get was, “This was a fun experiment.”  or “The worm really stinks.”  or nothing at all because the student said he didn’t learn anything new.

Here are links to my handout for each student.

How to write a lab report

How to set up your lab notebook.

The labs in the textbook are written as if Dr. Wile is talking directly to the student.  Therefore; they get a little wordy.  I tell my students to write the labs in their own words and cut out the wordiness.  For example: Experiment 1.2 Part C

“Step 4:  If you were to look at the cells under the microscope right now, it would be hard to find them, because they are almost transparent.  To help make them easier to see, you will add a dye to them.  This dye is called a stain, and it will help contrast the cells against the light, making them much easier to see. Place a drop of methylene blue stain on the area where you placed the cells. (This stain will not come out of most fabric, so use it with care.)”  From Exploring Creation with Biology, 2nd Edition, page 32.

That is what the student needs to hear/read, very important.  It is not what they need to write in their lab report.  Instead, write this or something like it:

Step 4:  Place a drop of methylene blue stain on the area where you placed the cells.

 

A reader’s question:  We will have 24 weeks, meeting weekly for about 45 minutes to an hour. The plan is to have the kids read and do the work outside of class and do the experiments during class. Are there any experiments you would skip or chapters that can be left out or gone over quickly?  This is probably my most asked question.  🙂 The list below is what I usually do and it is not meant as a replacement schedule for what is in the book.  You as the teacher know what you can and cannot do and what is best for your students.

 

I do not have students write a lab report for all experiments.  Here is what I usually do:

  • Experiment 1.1 – Lab was not written up.  I made a worksheet the kids filled out at home.
  • Experiment 1.2 – Write section C, the cheek cell section.  Students do play around with the microscopes to understand it and know the function of each part.    
  • Experiment 2.1 – written up.  
  • Experiment 2.2 – written up.   We also try to do experiment 3.1 at the same times as 2.2,  but only look for the specimens mentioned.  3.1 was not written up.  If anything was found it was written in the result section of Exp. 2.2
  • Experiment 4.4  – skipped.  Cheese is expensive and we couldn’t find anything on it anyway.
  • Experiment 5.3 – skipped because we never had time for it in class. We will be doing this for 2016.
  • Experiment 8.4 – skipped. I don’t remember why. LOL
  • Experiments 8.2 and 8.3 – not written up. Instead, the kids filled out a punnet square worksheet during class time.
  • I totally skipped Module 9- I didn’t have time.  Some students read this on their own at home.  No test or quiz.  I may do this module for 2016. 
  • Experiment 10.1 – skipped.  I can never get this one to work. 
  • Experiment 12.2 – skipped  Bug board was done instead.   Bugs will be sketched for 2016.
  • Experiment 14.1  No lab was written, but they had to make the book with the leaves.
  • Experiment 16.1 -skipped only because we cannot see the slide that came with this textbook.  I found a great video to watch instead and we just talked about it.
  • Experiment 16.2 – skipped because we went on a day-long field trip.  The students had a list of items they had to find and identify.    For 2016 year we will do the Great Backyard Bird Count in February.

How long does it take to complete the labs?  That depends on the lab.  A few labs take days and these are done at the students home.   Others are very quick, but I can’t think of a specific one at the moment.   The time consuming part is sketching and dissecting.  If you have a student who hates to sketch, it will be very quick.  If you have a student who loves sketching, it will take forever. LOL  I schedule at least an hour for the longer labs.

Tip to make labs go quickly and smoothly:  Have your students write the labs up through the procedure BEFORE coming to class.  This ensures the students have actually read the experiment and they know what to do.  The student can use their notes instead of the textbook, which takes up space on the table.  I take off points if the lab is not written in advance.

I’ll add more if I think of anything else.

Enjoy the experiments!

FAQ -Biology Class

 

Schedules:

Can you send me the Biology schedule in a format that I can change?  No. The Pdf format is all that I can give you.  If you need an editable schedule, please visit www.donnayoung.org.

Can you change the schedule form for me?  No.  See above

Is subscribing for DonnaYoung.org worth it?  Yes! I get most of my forms from her site.

Supplies:

Where do you get your supplies?
Textbook and Solutions from Rocksolidinc.com  I do not buy the CD, Audio, or Flash Cards, but I do know they have helped some students.  It depends on your needs.
3-ring notebook
– 1″wide, for graded lab write-ups – Where ever it is cheapest.
Basic Lab Form – Donnayoung.org !  I’d rather use a Meade Composition book, but that doesn’t work when we meet only once a week. 2015 and beyond I have the students type them up.
Plain paper for sketches – Office Depot
Colored pencils – Cheapest place
Dissecting Tool Kits – HomeScienceTools has great prices on dissecting tool kits. They also have great prices on individual pieces.
Styrofoam Meat Trays   I prefer the meat trays you get in the meat department at the grocery store.  The only reason I like them better than the dissecting trays is because of the cleaning and after awhile they get really stinky.   We get the meat trays free from Winn-Dixie and Publix grocery stores.   I double the trays for the frog.

Specimens

Where do you buy your specimens?  worm, crayfish, perch, frog ordered from Carolina.org   2016 – Carolina no longer ships the perch to your resident.  This year, we are going fishing. 🙂

Why don’t you buy your specimens from Home Science Tools?  You can find that answer  here.  Tools, I’ll buy.  Specimens, no way.

Do you reuse your scalpels or replace them with a new blade after each specimen?  We use new blades.  After breaking four “used” blades on the perch in previous years, I have decided we should use new blades for each specimen.

Isn’t that expensive? It only costs $2.00 for a package of ten. 

How do you dispose of the specimens when you are done?  Aren’t they harmful to the environment?  The specimens are not classifiable as federal hazardous wastes and do not represent a biohazard. After they have been displayed to the co-op members about to have lunch, the specimens go right into the dumpster.

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Got Questions?

Hi Everyone!

This is the time of year I get a lot of questions regarding labs, schedules, equipment, etc….  To keep from repeating myself in individual emails I will be answering your questions in a post, Thursday morning.  😀

Now is a good time to ask your questions, if you haven’t done so already.

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Today was our first day for 2016 school year. I only have these two lovely ladies, but I know we are going to have a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, I am a little off my game for the first day. Lots of activity going on at my house and it doesn’t look like it is going to quit anytime soon.

We got through half the module and Exp. 1.1 Classification.  I had planned to look at our cheek cells under the microscope, but I totally forgot to buy cover slips for the slides. Glad we have one more week for the module, so the cheek cells will have to wait until next Tuesday.

Hope everyone else has a great start with homeschooling.

See you on Thursday!

 

Guana River State Park Field Trip

Once again I forced my Biology student on a field trip to Guana River State Park,  but is really called Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.  It was a perfect day to take the mile long hike to the river.  High was 78 degrees, sunny, breezy, and oh so georgous.

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Here we are heading out on our one mile hike to the river.  Mixed in this group are the Biology students, Photography Students, Siblings, and The Awesome Parents.  Love having the parents come along.    This photo was taken by Jen Mauser of A Knittery Life.

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The youngest of the group lead the way.  But there were many stops before we arrived at the river.  So much to see.

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And photos to take.

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At the river, everyone heads to the rocks to take in the view.  The place is just beautiful.

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Photography students were to take photos of anything they wanted to.  My daughter, who is in the photography class and my Biology class, thought taking photos was optional. :/

The Biology students were to fill out a worksheet I had made for them.  They were to find, identify, and sketch three different trees, water plants, birds, amphibians, and record if they found anything  hadn’t listed on the worksheet.

The students took off….

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Beach to the left.  And sunshine all around.

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Jen Mauser and I took off after some lunch and came across raccoon tracks.  That is Jen’s shadow below.  Looks just like her!

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Once we returned to the starting point, my daughter realized photography wasn’t optional, so she took a few photos of a different kind of wild life. 😀

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I didn’t know she was also taking pictures of me.   We are also doing an insect board and most of the students brought something to collect insects in.  Here I am with a student trying to catch a flying creature.

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It was a great day all around.  The two classes worked well together and everyone enjoyed themselves.  This is one of my favorite places to be. 🙂

Come back tomorrow to find out what we did find.