Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are Kids with Down Syndrome on the Road to Extinction?

We've just finished hearing about human genetic disorders. For most of these there is actually minimal treatment options and only support groups for parents. Here's an interesting article on one of the most common genetic disorders - Are Kids With Down Syndrome on the Road to Extinction?
What are your thoughts?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oral Presentation Scoring Guidelines

Cell Organelle Oral Presentations - 30pts total

Content (10pt max)

Complete, excellent, additional material discussed -10 pts

Complete, good but not excellent -8 pts

Textbook level, basic and satisfactory - 7 pts

Incomplete, but most items covered -6 pts

Substantially incomplete, poor -5 pts

Presentation (10pt max)

Exceptional, clear, concise, organized, effective use of time -10 pts

Clear, concise, organized but some areas rough -8 pts

Average presentation/organization, some parts unclear, timing okay -7 pts

Breaks in presentation, dull, disorganized such that ideas are unclear -6 pts

Poorly done, unprepared, chaotic, way too short or too long -5 pts

Model (10pt max)

Excellent design and materials, truly inspired -10 pts

Visually pleasing, generates some enthusiasm -8 pts

Somewhat engaging, design is average -7 pts

Dull, little effort beyond very basic -6 pts

Uninspired, does not communicate information correctly -5 pts

Monday, September 19, 2011

Preparing for Biology Drawing

When preparing drawing, use your test or other references to help you identify structures, but draw what you see; do not simply copy a stylized textbook illustration. Suppose, for instance, you wish to draw a cross-section of a Smilax root from a microscope slide (see Fig. 9.1 and the sample student drawings based on it in Fig. 9.2). You need not be an artist to render an accurate, detailed, and comprehensible illustration. Use pencil for your initial sketch and allow enough room to include sufficient detail. Label your diagram carefully and always print legibly; be sure to identify details using the correct terminology. Check that all lines pointing to particular structures are drawn unambiguously. Provide a legend so that you know exactly what is being represented; note the magnification for microscope drawings.

This was taken from the 4th edition of Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences by Victoria E. McMillan

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bugs and Barney!

Here's an interesting little article about capturing and killing a destructive beetle. How do you think natural selection might alter the current situation? An Insect's Weakness for Purple

Friday, August 19, 2011

Welcome to Biology at College Prep!

Welcome to CPS Biology! We are genuinely looking forward to spending a fun and exciting year with all of you!

Though many people don't appreciate this, Biology is the most complex of scientific disciplines. Biological entities are marvels of complexity - they are composed of large, complicated molecules, some of which have amazing characteristics, such as the ability to replicate themselves! These complex molecules then come together in any of millions of possible combinations to undergo chemical reactions that we recognize as life processes. Fortunately we have one overarching idea that synthesizes all of the complexity we find in the biological world. This is the modern Theory of Evolution, stemming largely from the work of Charles Darwin. We will begin the semester with a consideration of Darwin's ideas to set the stage for the rest of the semester. At the end of the term, we will come back to the topic of evolution from a more modern perspective, armed with information about molecular genetics that were not available to Darwin and other earlier biologists.

Because Biology is so complex, it takes a lot of effort to really "get it." We know from experience that you cannot do this if you simply show up in class, listen to us talk for 45 minutes, and then forget about it all until the next day. When a question pops into your mind about what we've been talking about, jump online and see what Wiki or other references can tell you about the answers. Read over the articles and other resources we provide you with, and ponder how they tie in with class material. Talk to us! Send us emails. Talk to each other! Explain things to your parents!

So, your motto for this class is "Learning is a Process, Not an Event!" Don't treat this class as a daily "event" that you show up for and then forget about. Make it a part of how you look at the world. It'll be more fun and interesting if you're fully engaged with us and the material. Good luck!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


These are the topics and chapters we’ve covered this spring. Review the online objectives and case studies from the biology website - major units- (http://faculty.college-prep.org/~bernie/introbioweb/index.html). You may prepare a 1-page Study Guide (8.5 x 11 front/back) to use on the day of the final exam.

•Format: 35 multiple choice questions (6 on ecology, 9 on plants, 20 on human physiology) / 1 Comprehensive Essay on human physiology

•For help, feel free to see shellem or Ms Doering. Good luck!

Ecology - Chapters 37, 38
Plants -Chapters 22,23,24

Nervous System - Chapter 34
Immune System - Chapter 33
Endocrine System - Chapter 35
Reproductive System - Chapter 36
Circulatory System - Chapter 29
Respiratory System - Chapter 30
Skeletal/Muscular System - Chapter 28
Digestive System - Chapter 31
Excretory System - Chapter 32

Good luck - see you Thursday June 9!
Final Exam Review Sheet

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jonna's sections: EPTAS after chapter 8

In Part Three of her book, High Tech, Dr. Sanders looks at how testing has changed how medicine is practiced. Please address both questions below by class time on Monday.
  1. There are many different kinds of medical tests that were mentioned in this chapter; would you trust the results from all tests equally? Please explain with an example.
  2. What point is she trying to make by focusing on Lyme disease?

The Science of FAT Lecture Series

If you wanted to hear the other parts of the lecture series, you can find it by clicking here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How to do your Wikispace Assignment!

In lieu of a panel evaluation for the circulatory and respiratory case studies, your group will create a wikispace that provides a summary of the material in the case study that other groups will be able to read and comment upon.

To begin, you'll need to set up an account for your group at wikispaces.com.
This is pretty straightforward, but how you name your wikispace is critical! Please name your wiki according to this exact format: CPS2011BioPer_Circulatory_ (or Respiratory_). For example, if your group is working on Circulatory Case Study 1 and you are in period 3 Bio, you'll call your wikispace CPS2011BioPer3Circulatory1.

Once that is accomplished, play around a bit to see how creating a wiki works. You can type and edit text, drag in images and videos, and create new pages. You'll need to do all of these to create your wikis.

What your wiki should do is to summarize your case study in an interesting and attractive way, addressing all of the questions is narrative form. You need to include at least one image and one video. Ideally, you will organize your material into several pages, for example, starting with an "overview" page that provides background (perhaps pertaining to the "general" questions, and introducing the basic issue of your case study. Here is an example of a really good wiki from last year http: //per5hapethebest.wikispaces.com/. Notice that while the content and visuals of this page are great, it's kind of long, and might have been easier to absorb if it had been organized into pages.

Another important thing that you need to do is to invite your instructor to join your wikispace. This will ensure that your teacher has access to your wiki in case you accidentally name it improperly, etc.

When all groups are completed, you will be choosing two other wikis to read and comment on, so as you work, keep in mind that your audience is really the rest of the class, so give them a good experience!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

The Designers Accord Sustainability in 7 video series delivers a daily dose of design inspiration by today's leading sustainability experts. Join in the conversation as they share 7 things every designer should consider when integrating sustainability into design practice.

CPS Day this year is focusing on the theme of Sustainability, and I thought it would be interesting to hear from designers--what does sustainability mean to them? 

Pick a couple of videos to watch. Do the designers agree? How similar or different are their ideas?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interesting new research shows we all have a gut bacteria "type."

Check out this interesting article summarizing recent research showing that all humans appear to fit into one of three types when it comes to the bacterial ecosystem in our intestines. This implies that all humans can be characterized by gut type in a manner similar to blood types, and that doctors might some day be able to utilize information about gut types when treating patients. Very interesting!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Endocrine / Reproductive Case Studies

Before getting deeply involved with your specific case questions, each group must answer the following general questions. Be sure to include the responses to these questions in your final written paper:
General Questions:

Describe the mechanism by which a peptide hormone initiates a cell response; a steroid hormone initiates a cell response. How are they the same? How are they different? Give a specific example of each and state their effect on the human body.

Compare the hormonal controls of the male reproductive cycle with the hormonal controls of the female reproductive cycle. How are they the same? How are they different?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Doctors Need To Learn

Every Doctor Needs to Learn - here's an article about having Resident Interns operating on patients. Before you read the article - what are your views on having an intern operate on you? After reading the article - have you changed your view?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Immortal Jellyfish?

We had a brief discussion about how jellyfish move in my classes today, and our brief chat about hydrostatic skeletons gave Matt Barber just enough time to find out about what are portrayed as "immortal" jellyfish. Thanks to both Matt and Addie for sending me the full story. We don't have time to talk about other phyla of animals much, and this story shows how reproductively diverse they can be. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Using stem cells to treat TBI

Hi everyone,
Here is an interesting article that Winston sent me about research involving the use of stem cells to treat TBI. It's relevant to both our current study of the nervous system, and to our upcoming discussion of bones. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vital Bodies Exhibit potential field trip!

Want to go see this exhibit together? Please reply to this post if you would like to go Saturday March 26th. If we have more than 10 people we can get a group discount: $8 if you're 17 or under ($14 w/ student ID otherwise).

We would meet up at the school and take a couple of vans down to San Jose to check out the exhibit and expand our appreciation for and understanding of the human body.

Are you the next Natalie Portman?

Read this article and find out!

Natalie Portman, Oscar Winner, Was Also a Precocious Scientist

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yes, We Will Have No Bananas

In "The Botany of Desire," Michael Pollan points out that most crop plants (like apples) are produced asexually, producing clones. This ensures that all of the new plants produced will have the same exact traits of the original plant. Unfortunately, the resulting "monoculture" has no genetic variability, and can thus not respond to new pests and diseases through natural selection. An example of the perils of monocultured crops is provided by the Cavendish banana, which is virtually the only kind of banana sold in the United States today. The Cavendish banana was cultivated by a previous kind of banana, which was wiped out by a fungus infection that causes what is called Panama Disease. Alas, as this article points out, Panama Disease is back, and is currently spreading through Cavendish plantations in a variety of parts of the world. Read about the possibility that we won't be able to enjoy this exotic tropical fruit in the relatively near future, and about the interesting history that has made bananas such a cheap and common part of our diet.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Drought in the Amazon: Scary Stuff!

Here is a story that relates to many of the ecology case studies you are all working on.

Two major droughts in Brazil's Amazon region in the last six years threaten to undermine its role as the planet's most important carbon sink and a vital brake on climate change, according to new research.

Scientists from Brazil and the UK concluded that last year's Amazonian drought was more widespread and damaging than in 2005, which at the time was thought to be a "once in a century" event.

The Amazon River fell to its lowest level in decades, with many of its tributaries such as the Rio Negro completely drying up in some area. With tens of thousands of people dependent in the waterways for their survival, a state of emergency was declared in a number of towns in the region.

The report, published in the journal Science, calculated that the carbon impact of the 2010 drought may eventually exceed the 5 billion tonnes of CO2 released following the 2005 event. This compares to the estimated 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted through fossil fuel use in the United States in 2009.

Tropical rainforests such as the Amazon act as a natural buffer to man-made emissions by absorbing huge amounts of carbon each year. However they become major emitters of CO2 during drought years.

"In a normal year we would see these remote rainforests being net absorbers of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," the report's co-author Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds, told CNN.

"And a drought will kill some of those trees, and over time these trees will rot down and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"So over the next few years we'll see billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere from these rotting trees that were killed during the 2010 drought.

"That's enough to offset the carbon absorption, so that the rainforest becomes carbon neutral."

The research team, made up of scientists from the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield in the UK and the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM) in Brazil, compared satellite data showing rainfall across the 5.3 million square kilometers of the Amazon Basin with information about how individual trees responded since the 2005 drought.

"We knew how many trees had died in 2005," said Lewis. "So we could use that relationship between tree deaths and the drought intensity from 2005 to estimate the impact of the 2010 drought."

Lewis warned more research was needed into the relationship between the droughts and climate change, despite some global climate models suggesting Amazon droughts will become more frequent in future as a direct result of greenhouse gas emissions.

He said: "We could see an increase in the severity and the number of these droughts, which could lead into a vicious cycle: droughts, then the forests releasing carbon reinforcing those droughts.

"At the present time we don't know whether these two droughts are just associated with natural climatic variability. If so, then we may go back to a situation of not seeing these droughts. It may just be an unusual decade."

But in any case Lewis believes current emissions pathways "risk playing Russian roulette with the world's largest rainforest."