Tag Archives: biology

Love Post-it Notes!

Just finished printing a few extra Biology Post-it Notes for my class.  Always a fun way to write a note to students. 🙂

I used Sticky Note Printing Template  and added clip-art from Word.  Of course my name is always done in Chiller font.


I also printed on Post-It notes for my daughter’s math book.  You can find the blog post here.

Have you printed on Post-it Notes yet?

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.


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.

The Inside of a Frog

The last animal dissection of the year!  WOOT!

Nice picture, huh?

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Handing out the specimens is always fun.  It’s like handing out cupcakes!  The students love it. LOL

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Yep, the students line up with their trays and receive this totally cool gift.  Yes, the specimens do have a smell, but not as bad as when I was in school.

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For this experiment, I made a worksheet for them to fill out.  It had fill in the blanks and very little sketching.  I wanted them to really work hard on the dissection instead of spending most of their class time sketching.

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I used the following websites to put my worksheet together.

I picked some things from each link and added some things of my own to make a good worksheet.  You can do the same or just use their worksheets. 🙂

As always we begin our experiment by looking at the exterior of the specimen.  We found all to be females and thankfully none had eggs.  I don’t like dealing with the eggs.  blah….

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Then we move to the inside.  Love, love, love the double injected specimens.  Arterial system is injected with red latex and the hepatic system is injected with blue latex .  Thumbs up all around!

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I think all of the students were glad when this was over.  It got busy real fast and I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted.  You can see previous post with some great photos.

Frog Guts – 2011

Here are some extra helpful links for frog dissection.

Youtube also has lots of videos that are useful.


Perch Dissection!

Module 13 in Exploring Creation Biology – Phylum Chordata.  This is where vertebrates are found.  Yes, this is where humans are classified, right along with this lovely Perch. 😀

Look at these lovies!  Nice big specimens.

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We pray for great weather when it is time for the Perch dissection.  Yes, it does smell and having that smell in the co-op building just before lunch, is not a good thing.  Trust me.

We use meat trays instead of dissection trays and plastic table covers for easy clean up.  I REALLY hate cleaning dissection trays.

Here is my class getting ready for the fun.

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After examining the outside and taking notes, we looked at the gills.

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Then the students were to pull out one of the gills and have a look at it.  Most were ok with doing that.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do.  Scissors and tweezers were needed to pull the gills out.

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Then it was time to look in the inside.  Eww…. Most of the students said they could not cut the through the scales.  Most likely an excuse not to have to cut through it. 😀  They stopped complaining when I took an extra fish and made a perfect cut.

And as always once in side, the students play around. Fish guts, anyone?

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Stomachs were cut open, but all were empty.  I guess they did not get a last meal.

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The brain has always been difficult for us to find.  Somewhere in the mess below, is the brain.

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After all work has been completed, we just roll everything up in the plastic table covers, through it in a bag and it is done.   All that is left is a pile of tools to wash.

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For this experiment and most other, students are required to type up their lab before coming to class.  This assures me they will actually read what they are going to attempt.

To add to their lab write-up I printed these worksheets for them to label.  I did have to white-out the words, so the student can fill it in.  They had an exterior and interior diagram to labels.

The following websites are also a big help.

Invertebrates – Continued

Exploring Creation with Biology – Module 11  Invertebrates 😀  Ya’ll know you want to hear more about worms.  Plus some other goodies I want to share.

See yesterday’s post.


  • Kingdom:  Animalia
  • Phylum:  Annelida (segmented worm)
  • Class: Clitellata (has a clitellum)
  • Order: Haplotaxida
  • Family: Lumbricidae  (33 species)
  • Genus: Lumbricus

Some interesting facts I found around on the web.

  • Length can be around 3 inches to 11 inches
  • Roughly 2700 different kinds of earthworms
  • In 1 acre of land there can be more than 1 million worms.
  • Largest worm found was 22 feet long. South Africa.  😯
  • Worms are cold blooded
  • Baby worms hatch from cacoons
  • If their skin dries out they die
  • If their skin absorbs too much water, they drown.
  • They are made of 80% water.
  • Worms are excellent composters and are used in many compost piles.  See Vermicomposting.
  • They aerate the soil and move nutrients around.
  • They have both male and female sexual reproductive organs.
  • They usually live 3 to 4 years.

And here are the awesome photos that I showed in a powerpoint.  Yep, oversized in your face worm guts.


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worm2 copy

Pretty aren’t they?  Feel free to copy and use in your class.  You could even use them for wallpaper in your bedroom.   You’re welcome!

Let’s back track to the beginning of the module, because I totally forgot to blog about it.

There are three types of symmetry: Spherical Symmetry, Radial Symmetry, and Bilateral Symmetry.   Humans are Bilateral.  To prove that we may look the same on the left and right sides, but actually are not, I took mugshots of each of the students.  Them I promptly lost a couple somewhere inside my computer and had to use different photos that were not really mugshots.

I tried to slice the faces (That sounds bad, doesn’t it?), straight down through the nose.  These kids didn’t look weird as previous students.  I was seriously bummed about that, but you can still see a difference when the left sides are paired together and the right sides are paired together.




That was fun. 🙂

Now on to my favorite videos for this module.  I whole heartily belive sometimes you need a video done in real life to get the wow factor in Biology.  Just learning how a sponge pulls water through its walls and out its osculum isn’t as exciting as seeing the real thing.

Barrel Sponge Filtering Water  – really nice video showing a sponge filtering water.  Must see, of course.

Oh and jellyfish or other animals that have nematocysts that sting.  Yeah, not so exciting as seeing the real thing.  Here are two videos for you.

Nematocysts Firing – no sound

Jellyfish Stinging Microscopic Slow Motion – This video is just over 6 minutes but worth watching.   It does speak of evolution, so please preview before showing to the students.

Moon Jellyfish Life Cycle – no sound.

As always, don’t read the comments on YouTube.  Want a way to see the videos without all the comments and unwanted videos on the side?  I use Keepvid to download the videos and then show them to the class.

Wow, this is a long post. Thank you for reading it!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Read what we have done in the past here.


With many groans, I handed out the worms.  This tube of 12″ Earthworms is from www.carolina.com and all were in excellent juicy shape!

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Once the first one was out, most of the students were looking forward to the experiment.

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Except one.  I had to remind everyone in the class that there are NO WIMPY kids in my Biology class.

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I talked a few minutes about each of the systems:  Digestive, Nervous, Circulatory, and Reproductive.  The slimy tube reference in the Reproductive System didn’t go over too well with the students. I kinda went very fast through that system and told them to make sure they read that section.  LOL

First thing first, touch it. 😀  You can name it if you want to.

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The dissection lab and the write-up will be the hardest grade the student will earn.  I warned them with this email message.  Feel free to copy it to you students.  It worked wonders and all had their lab write-ups prior to class.  Next week, I’ll get their final write-ups and let you know how they did.

Ok Students, listen up!

Commence lecturing…

You must have your Exp. 11.3 Worm Dissection, written up before coming to class.  You must read this module before coming to class.  For this experiment you will only be using your notes.  Since lab write-ups are to be written in such a way that anyone can pick it up and perform the experiment, you should be able to complete this assignment without any help from me. laugh

Points to remember:

  • Your lab must be written-up prior to class.
  • Leave your books at home. You don’t need them in class this Tuesday.
  • You will be sketching. Please bring UNLINED paper for your sketches.  This is a High School college prep course. Step up to it.
  • You will make the sketches in a reasonable size.  One inch sketches are not acceptable. Huge kindergarten sketches are not acceptable.
  • Use pencil, not a pen.  Cover your pencil in plastic wrap to protect it from worm guts.  I do have gloves, but they are not to be used for the pencil.
  • You will take your time with this dissection.  You will make detailed sketches. You will not make sloppy sketches.  You will learn something.  You will NOT finish this in 5 minutes.
  • If you need a surgical mask, please bring it.
  • If you need to step out of the room for some air, please do so and come right back.
  • Every student will dissect their own worm.  Every student will complete this dissection.  I know there are no wimpy students in my Biology class.  yes

You have been writing labs since the beginning of this class.  Some of you have done well, some of you have done ok, and some of you have not done so well.  The dissection write-ups will be graded the hardest out of all our write-ups.  Please keep this in mind and do an excellent job with your write-ups.

Terminate lecturing….

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Getting the first cut is a little nerve wracking for the kids.  It isn’t easy to judge how far you should cut through the skin, but it all went well.

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Except for the ones that went a little too far.  Yep, not much left to see there!  Thankfully, I had visuals.   Bigger than life photos of previous dissections.  I will post them tomorrow for your enjoyment. My favorite videos for this module wil also be posted. 🙂

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Only one student brought in a mask. I couldn’t smell it very much, but some of the kids could.  Carolina Biologicals do not use You can read about our specimens from Carolina  here.

Quotes from Carolina: Carolina’s Perfect Solution® – an alternative to formaldehyde – is a revolutionary fixative that produces superior specimens while improving the safety of your classroom or lab. Tissues and organs are extremely lifelike and retain better color and texture than with other preparations.

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Here is a pretty good cut, but this student needed to cut a few more of the septa.  The Septa is the string like thing that separates the worm into sections.  Once you slice those, your worm can be pinned back and expose the organs better.  Was that TMI?

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I would love to say that ALL the students enjoyed this, but… I can’t. Guess who this kid belongs to.

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Genetics and Spudoodles

This past Tuesday was our last  Biology class before Christmas break.  We are covering Module 8 – Mendelian Genetics.  Which is, genes determine traits.  Each living creature’s has two alleles that make up that trait.  One from the daddy and one from the mommy. 😀

Since we are going to continue with Module 8 when we return after the new year, I spent the class time going over genotype, phenotype, alleles, and dominant alleles and skipped the punnet squares.  To help with this and make this last class time a fun one, we made Spudoodles.   You can see what we did in 2010 and in 2013.   As you can tell in the two posts sometimes the kids are not too thrilled with this project.  Actually only two kids were NOT happy with it.  So, give this project a try, because the majority of the kids like it.   Like this year!

I updated my Spudoodle worksheet to fit this class.  I don’t think I saved a copy, but you can get the previous version here.   I put enough alleles (letters) in each bag to make sure the selection was different.  For example, I made sure some of the spuds were bald, some had 2 legs and some had 4 legs, etc.  Two of the alleles were on lime green paper.  That meant they were mutations.  One spudoodle had long skinny legs, instead of stubby thumb takes.  The other had three ears instead of 2 or 4.

The students were to pick an allele from the blue (dad) bag and one allele from the pink (mom) bag for each trait.  There were 8 traits total.

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Next the students listed what their genotype was (the two alleles), and the phenotype (hair, no hair, curly tail, etc).  Once that was done I gave them a spud with a diaper on it.  I don’t know why I did put a diaper on it, but it was funny.  I did tell the students since parents don’t get to pick their kid, the students don’t pick their spud.

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Then they were to build it using the items I provided.

  • Hair – toothpicks
  • Eyes- brads
  • Nose – gum drops
  • Ears – Gummy bears
  • Mouth – pennies
  • Female – pink straight pen for the head.  I forgot to bring bows.
  • Legs – thumb tacks and long paper clips (mutation)
  • Tail – pipecleaners

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Most of the students had a great time with it.  Like this girl below.

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She said the worksheet was the birth certificate.  She gave it a name, DOB, time, weight, lenght, Mother and Father names, and look to the left you’ll see the spudoodles little foot print.  LOL   This has never happened in my class before. Once she did that, the others followed.  Even the boys.

spud chart

All enjoyed and didn’t mind if I took pictures.  Except for this student.  Yeah, she is excited to have her picture taken.


See, she is thrilled!   Just so you know, this is my daughter.

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Here is the family portrait!  I just realized there are four with diapers and four without and they are every other one.  That was not planned.  LOL


Module 7 – Cellular Reproduction and DNA

I believe my class is ready for Christmas break.  The last few Tuesdays, the students have been lethargic.  I thought for sure the extraction of pea DNA would wake them up.  Nope.

It is always a good idea to practice your experiments before going into the classroom.   Rule #1: If it doesn’t work at home, it will not work in the classroom.  Yeah, it really doesn’t.

What you will need:

  • A good blender
  • Toothpicks (long wooden skewers work best)
  • Clear liquid soap  (Dawn works best and we used the blue one)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Strainer
  • Glass jar
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Rubbing alcohol  (cold)

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I did this experiment at my home the night before co-op.  I used Sam’s Club antibacterial hand soap with light moisturizers.  It didn’t work, people.  It didn’t even work the next day at co-op.  See Rule #1 above.

The next week, we begin again.  We follow the directions and whirl some peas around.

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Then strain the liquid out using a tea strainer.

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Add the soap. This time I used the blue DAWN liquid dish soap.  The experiment said to use clear, but I didn’t have any.  We had no problem with the blue soap.

A coffee stick was used to stir.  A wooden skewer works so much better.

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After adding cold Rubbing Alcohol (I put it in the refrigerator), there is DNA!  Woo-hoo.  Students did not care. LOL

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The white stringy stuff is the DNA.  Looks like nose goo.  Lovely.

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If you use a long wooden skewer, the DNA will stick to it and you’ll be able to bring the DNA out of the jar for a closer look.

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Please have a look at my post from 2009, DNA from Peas!    I don’t know how we did it, but this is the best example of this experiment.

I am sorry for not keeping up with what is going on in Biology.  This week I have several post scheduled to get us caught up, then we break for Christmas.


Edible Cell Winners!

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The Most Meticulous

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The Most Beautiful

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The Most Hideous

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The Most Peculiar

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She’s mine. 🙂

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She’s mine. 🙂

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After the feast.

Appliejuice Etsy Shop  –  has a letter to students explaining the mission (project), Student Grade Sheet, Teacher Rubric, and a list for the teacher of what is required in the cell. That’s a helpful tool while grading. 🙂

Yummy Yummy Cells!

Yes!  Edible Cells!   The third fun hands on activity for Module 6 in Exploring Creation with Biology.

I did not assign this project.  Two weeks ago, our class had a visitor.  An odd visitor.  Dr. Gootenbur….  uh, I can’t even spell this person’s name.  I don’t think I can even pronounce this person’s name.  Oh well.


He decided it was a good time to hand out the Mad Science Project.  Each student was given the instruction sheet and a caution.  They were not to make a living cell.  That would be like so wrong!

My girls got busy!  Buy lots and lots of candy.

The girls

One made a boxed cake and the other made a giant cookie.  Icing was colored and spread all over the place. All.over.the.place.

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Icing and cake pieces were used to make the nucleus for one of the cells.  Once it was made one daughter announced it looked like a dung pile.  What do you think?

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A popcorn ball was purchased at Wal-Mart for 25 cents for the other cell.  It was on clearance!  Sir Husband said they had a huge cart full of them.  To me that is a sign DO NOT EAT.  ewwww…..

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Cell is beginning to appear.  Twizzlers, gummies, and icing were used.  Since this was the daughter who said the chocolate nucleus looked like a dung pile, we let her know the chocolate droppings on the mitochondria looked like frog poo.  Seriously, it does.  We have seen it on our sidewalk.   Parenting has its rewards. 😉

The making

The final product.  The cell was not alive…BONUS!

Edible Cell Display

Eight students brought in eight edible cells.  The amount of work that went to each one ranged from extreme to ….well…. next to no effort at all.  LOL  Enjoy the slideshow of these Edible Cells.

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Cells were displayed for all to see, enjoy….

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and vote on…

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and consumed.  Well one was so hard it would have taken a chainsaw to slice.

Rice Krispies

All students were sent home to fall into a sugar coma.  To the parents of my students, you’re welcome!

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Voting, by fellow students and facilitators,  was on the following:

  • Most Beautiful
  • Most Hideous
  • Most Peculiar
  • Most Meticulous – Picked by me.

Honestly, there wasn’t a Hideous one, but we voted on it anyway.  I have not awarded the certificates yet, so please come back next Wednesday to find out who won these categories.  In the meantime, who do you think won?

Go here to see the printables for this project.

Or visit my Etsy shop for more detailed items.