Archive for February, 2010

Further studies of behaviour

Thursday, February 25th, 2010
peacock by vigilant20 on flickr

peacock by vigilant20 on flickr

Here’s what we need to cover in this last section of Option E.

  1. Honey bees are social organisms.  Describe the organization of a bee colony – who does what.  Find one other example of such social organization and describe it. #1 2 Social Organisms
  2. What is the role of natural selection in colonies like this?
  3. Give 2 non-human examples of altruistic behaviour and discuss in terms of evolution.  Altruistic Behavior in animals
  4. What is foraging?  Bluegill fish forage for Daphnia.  Find one other example, and explain how this type of behaviour optimizes food intake. E6 notes #3 4
  5. Peacocks have pretty fancy tail feathers.  Why have they evolved this way? Explain in terms of mate selection. #5 animal behavior   Peacocks #5
  6. Animals show rhythmical variations in activity.  Outline 2 examples illustrating this.  Eg, seasonal reproductive behaviour in deer. Rythmical Variations

Here’s a very useful slideshare presentation on this section.

The human brain and pain

Thursday, February 25th, 2010
fMRI by nats on flickr

fMRI by nats on flickr

This next section, E5, is all about the human brain, brain function, fMRI, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, pupil reflex, brain death, and the perception of pain.  Phew!  That’s a lot of concepts. 

We’ll again use click4biology as a good resource, and this presentation from Mr Taylor in Bandung to help us get through it all.  Here are the key questions we need to answer:

  • What are the major parts of the human brain, and what are their functions?
  • How do animal experiments, lesions and fMRI scanning used in identifying which part of the brain is involved with specific functions?
  • How are heart rate, movements of the iris, and blood flow to the gut controlled by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems?
  • What is the pupil reflex and how is it used to determine brain death?
  • How is pain perceived and how to endorphins help to alleviate it?

This is also a very useful set of notes, courtesy of Mr Hobbins. Topic E5 The Brain

Which energy source is best for the Philippines?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Coal transport by MoToMo on flickr

Coal transport by MoToMo on flickr

For our culminating activity in this unit we will be getting you into groups and asking you to research, present and debate on which is the best source of energy for the Philippines.  Look at this handout for full details of the work, including the rubric for assessment.  Amended Energy Topic Performance Task

Each group of 4 students will be given one source of energy.  Each person on the group will take on a different role – either that of engineer, economist, environmentalist, or a  member of the public – and put together a convincing argument as to why their particular source of energy should be used.  You will also need to have some knowledge of other sources of energy in order to be able to counter any arguments against your source. 

Solar Panels by clownfish on flickr

Solar Panels by clownfish on flickr

You will be given 2 full lessons to research this.  The next lesson we will listen to each presentation, make some notes on this sheet: ENERGY PERFORMANCE TASK Presentation Notes and then vote on which energy source we think should be used.

This should be fun!

Peak oil

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Current world oil reserves by ChartsBin on flickr

Current world oil reserves by ChartsBin on flickr

In class today we discussed the idea of exponential growth and watched this video by Chris Martenson.  We discussed the idea of peak oil, and how this was different to “oil running out” by watching this video.  We then researched which countries have oil reserves, and how much, and discovered that according to CIA world factbook, that the Philippines is #62 on the list.

We will discuss the following essential questions:

  • Why have humans become so much more productive over the last 250 years when compared to the previous 250,000?
  • What is peak oil, and should we be worried that some people say we have reached it?
  • What will be the consequence of an ever increasing human population and falling fossil fuel energy reserves?
  • Will developing countries ever realize the standard of living enjoyed by people in developed countries?

Sharkwater follow up

Friday, February 19th, 2010
Sharkwater poster by thegreenpages on flickr

Sharkwater by thegreenpages on flickr

After watching SHARKWATER in class, where we discussed many of the issues surrounding food webs and man’s impact on them, particularly in the ocean, I found this article in the news today, so thought I’d share it with you.

Creativity with Carbon

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Imagine you are a carbon atom in a molecule of carbon dioxide in the air.  Close your eyes.  Really imagine yourself as that carbon atom.  Your task is to describe the journey you take from being part of carbon dioxide in the air, through the carbon cycle, until you return to the air again.  Here is my attempt at the beginnings of such a story to give you the idea.  You do not need to start in this way.  You decide.  Get creative!  Let your imagination work!

There I was, happily floating around in my usual gaseous form along with several of my brothers and sisters  (other carbon dioxide molecules), and my good friends nitrogen and oxygen.  We were having a great time bumping into one another, when I got dangerously close to a leaf.  Everyone had always told me to stay away from green plants, that I could get sucked into a stoma and never be seen again.  Before I realized what was happening, I was inside a chloroplast and going through a very fast reaction where I had to let go of my two oxygen atoms, and for a moment be entirely alone.  Before long, I found some other carbons and we joined together, 6 of us, 12 hydrogen friends and 6 oxygen buddies to form a glucose molecule….

How we see, how we hear

Friday, February 12th, 2010
Eye see you! by dotbenjamin on flickr

Eye see you! by dotbenjamin on flickr

We’ll start by looking at the different kinds of receptors that humans have, then focus on the photoreceptors in the eye and mechanoreceptors in the ear.  Click4biology is useful, as is this presentation by Mr Taylor in Bandung.

You need to be able to label a diagram of the eye like this one: Eye diagram

We’ll also do an eye dissection so you can relate the diagram to “reality”.  We’ll compare the different types of photoreceptors that are on the retina, namely rods and cones.  We’ll explain contra-lateral processing (right brain processing information from left eye, and vice versa). And finally we will explain certain kinds of optical illusions by looking at edge enhancement.

We’ll label a diagram of the ear and explain how sound is perceived.  Here are some questions for consideration:-

Why do we have two ears?  What role does the pinna play in other animals? Can fish hear? What range of sounds can the human ear hear? What is a cochlear implant and how does it work?  What does it mean to be tone deaf or have perfect pitch?

Neurotransmitters and synapses

Friday, February 12th, 2010
addiction by alancleaver_2000 on flickr

addiction by alancleaver_2000 on flickr

Here are the big questions for us to tackle in this section:

  • How does decision-making occur in the CNS?
  • How do psychoactive drugs affect the brain and personality?
  • What the physiological effects of THC and cocaine?
  • What are the causes of addiction?

We’ll use this presentation from Mr Taylor.  And, as usual, click4biology is a great resource.  Also, for fun, check out this site.  You’ll find some very entertaining mice!

Thanks to Mr Hobbins for this powerpoint. E4 Neurotransmitters and Synapses

Carbon cycle

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
Nature by jaxxon on flickr

Nature by jaxxon on flickr

We’re going to try and connect all that we have been learning – respiration, combustion, photosynthesis, food chains – into one big carbon cycle. This brainpop video will help get you started.  

This one on fossil fuels explains where oil, coal and gas come from, and leads into our next section on the importance of oil and how to separate it out by distillation.  This video explains how this works in an oil refinery. We’ll do a world energy audit and look at where the natural resources are and what the alternative energy sources might be.

Stimulus and response

Friday, February 5th, 2010

The syllabus guide for this topic: Option E – syllabus guide

We are starting option E with a look at the nervous system.  Check out this excellent presentation from Mr Taylor.

What are some examples of reflexes that exist in humans?  Are there some that exist in babies but not in adults?  Do other animals have reflexes that we don’t have?  Do plants have reflexes?  What is the purpose of a reflex action?