Archive for November, 2009


Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
sperm injection into egg from wikimedia commons

sperm injection into egg from wikimedia commons

We are going to try something a little different to help us learn about the process of IVF, and the ethical considerations that go along with it.  Here’s the situation:

A couple have been trying to conceive for over 3 years.  They have had 2 miscarriages. They are considering IVF as their next step. The man is really keen to go ahead with it, but his wife is skeptical.  They have an appointment with a doctor who is a specialist in the area of fertility and IVF.

What to do:

  • Get into groups of 3.
  • Each person will have their own role to play – decide who is going to be the doctor, who is going to be the woman and who is going to be the husband.
  • The doctor must become knowledgeable about the process of IVF, so that s/he can explain it to the couple and answer any questions they may have.
  • The woman must be ready to listen, but also have a well thought out list of concerns about the negative aspects of this treatment and the ethical considerations she is worried about.
  • The husband must have his arguments ready as to why he thinks the treatment would be a good next step for them, and address any of his wife’s concerns.
  • Spend about 30-40 mins researching your role.
  • Role play the interview between the doctor and the couple.
  • Reflect on the process – what difficulties did you find? Is there a “right” answer to this problem? Include your thoughts in a comment on this post.

Exam review

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
final exam by dcJohn on flickr

final exam by dcJohn on flickr

One week and counting…. your semester 1 Integrated Science exam is on Tuesday 24th November.  Make sure you check the exam schedule CAREFULLY so that you report in the right place at the right time.

You will need to bring pens, pencils, ruler, eraser and calculator to the exam.  YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BORROW.

Here is a comprehensive checklist to use for review.  Thanks to Mr Duckworth for producing it. 

Grade 9 Integrated Science Learning Outcomes revision sheet

Cell structure and processes review site.

On this document you will find a list of interactive review sites.  Thanks to Mr Hobbins for putting it together. G9 Semester 1 review websites

Reproductive system

Monday, November 16th, 2009


No – it’s not a picture of a sunflower.  Look closely!

Here is what we will cover.  You will notice that it is not that extensive in terms of content.  HL students do a lot more.

  • Draw and label diagrams of adult male and female reproductive systems.
  • How do hormones control the menstrual cycle? (Link to Endocrine system)
  • Relate hormonal changes to thickening of uterine lining, ovulation and menstruation.
  • What are the roles of testosterone in males?
  • Explain the process of IVF and discuss the ethical issues associated with it.

A good presentation can be found here.  Some great videos on this unit have been produced by NOVA.  Watch in segments or all at once.

Last test of semester 1 – hooray!

Monday, November 16th, 2009
calendar card - January by Joe Lanman on flickr

calendar card - January by Joe Lanman on flickr

Our calendar is jammed, so we can’t be very flexible with dates for this test.




(Caitlin and Synnove – we will make arrangements for you to sit it during your study halls on THURSDAY 3rd due to clash with English Orals)

Topics covered will be Nervous System, Endocrine System, Reproductive System – and for HL students Muscles and Movement as well.  That is Topics 6.5 and 6.6 for SL, and Topics 6.5, 6.6 and 11.2 for HL. Come to tutorials armed with questions if you need to 🙂

Cell membrane structure

Monday, November 16th, 2009
Simple diffusion in cell membrane from wikimedia commons

Simple diffusion in cell membrane from wikimedia commons

Some questions to tackle this week:-

  • Do you know what a phospholipid is? 
  • Can you draw a labelled diagram of a cell membrane?
  • What other structures are present in the membrane to help it perform its function of allowing substances into and out of cells?
  • How does this relate to diffusion?
  • Can you explain why the membrane is described as fluid?

Here are some links to images and animations that might help you understand the answers to these questions.

Simple diagram of cell membrane.  More complex diagram of cell membrane.

Animation showing that the cell membrane is selectively permeable by only allowing molecules that are small enough to pass across.

This animation shows how protein channels can help diffusion of larger molecules across the membrane.

This interactive animation explains diffusion and how it relates to membrane structure.

Muscles and movement

Monday, November 16th, 2009
Sarcomeres in myofibrils of relaxed skeletal muscle from

Sarcomeres in myofibrils of relaxed skeletal muscle from

In this unit we will be looking at the following key questions:

Why do muscles work in pairs?

What is a sarcomere and what does it have to do with muscle contraction?

How do muscles contract?

A great presentation on this can be found here.

Good animations to help explain what’s going on can be found here.

How do you make a hormone?

Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Illu_endocrine_system from wikipedia commons

Illu_endocrine_system from wikipedia commons

Ask Mr. Hobbins the answer to that one!

Next up is the Endocrine System, which consists of glands that produce hormones that travel in the bloodstream to various sites of action.  We’ll look at this from the perspective of coordination and control, so will be defining the term homeostasis and looking at examples of this in the body.

Questions we’ll tackle:

  • What is the endocrine system and how does it function?
  • What is homeostasis and how does it work?
  • How is body temperature is regulated?
  • How are blood glucose levels maintained?
  • What’s the difference between type I and type II diabetes?

Check your knowledge of cells

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Here is a link to a quiz that you can use to check your understanding of cells.  It is brief – my advice is that you study the structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and their functions, and their differences, then see how you go on the quiz.  The answers are on there too, so you can self-assess.

Quiz – cell parts and their functions

People missing next Tues for the Geo field trip – this is important for you folks to try at home.

Reaction times

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

ReactionTimeStepTwo from

This next lab looks at measuring reaction times.  There are several ways we could do this, but we are going to keep it simple and use the old, tried and tested method of catching a ruler.  Here’s what to do:-

  1. Find a partner.
  2. One person rests their elbow on a table with their hand extended over the edge.
  3. The partner should hold a meter ruler between the subject’s thumb and forefinger, ensuring it is at the 0cm mark.
  4. As soon as the ruler is released, the subject must try and catch it.  The distance the ruler falls can be used as a measure of reaction time.
  5. You will need to repeat this a suitable number of times to ensure the reliability of your data.
  6. Try investigating different variables, such as left-hand vs right-hand, using one eye or two eyes, sound or touch stimuli instead of sight.  THINK ABOUT CONTROL OF VARIABLES – it is very important here.
  7. Record your data in a suitable way, process it and present it appropriately.  Draw relevant conclusions.  Evaluate your results and the procedure used.  Suggest realistic improvements.

This lab will assessed for data collection and processing, and for conclusion and evaluation.




Data Collection and Processing (DCP)


Recording raw data


Processing raw data

Presenting processed data


c = 2

Records appropriate quantitative and associated qualitative raw data, including units and uncertainties where relevant. Processes the quantitative raw data correctly. Presents processed data appropriately and, where relevant, includes errors and uncertainties.

p = 1

Records appropriate quantitative and associated qualitative raw data, but with some mistakes or omissions. Processes quantitative raw data, but with some mistakes and/or omissions. Presents processed data appropriately, but with some mistakes and/or omissions.

n = 0

Does not record any appropriate quantitative raw data or raw data is incomprehensible. No processing of quantitative raw data is carried out or major mistakes are made in processing. Presents processed data inappropriately or incomprehensibly.




Conclusion and Evaluation (CE)



Evaluating procedure(s)

Improving the investigation


c = 2

States a conclusion, with justification, based on a reasonable interpretation of the data. Evaluates weaknesses and limitations. Suggests realistic improvements in respect of identified weaknesses and limitations.

p = 1

States a conclusion based on a reasonable interpretation of the data. Identifies some weaknesses and limitations, but the evaluation is weak or missing. Suggests only superficial improvements.

n = 0

States no conclusion or the conclusion is based on an unreasonable interpretation of the data. Identifies irrelevant weaknesses and limitations. Suggests unrealistic improvements.

 DUE DATE:  Tuesday 17th November

Exploring cell diversity

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Here are a couple of questions we will try to answer this week:

What do all cells have in common?

Why do cells differentiate?  Within the same organism, there are differences between cells – why is this?

Here’s what you need to do:-

  1. In your groups, make a list of all the different types of cells you can think of (eg, red blood cell, leaf cell)
  2. Each student chooses ONE cell type to research.  Draw the basic structure, state its function, describe why it is unique, and where it is found.
  3. Share your findings with your group.
  4. Discuss the similarities and differences between the cells you described.  Are cells more alike or more different from one another?  Are some cells more complex than others?  Which ones? 
  5. Try to explain why cells have these similarities and differences.