Carbon Cycle and a Dead Cat

carbon cycle 1 carbon cycle 2 It was time to learn the carbon cycle in bio class. Two smarty-pants in the back of the class, copied the notes and decided they could now play games. Why not, they got the material. They have good grades. Fortunately I saw this opportunity as a break from my teaching. I handed them the chalk and my notes and said, “Teach.”

They willingly did! They taught about carbon moving from the air, to the trees and plants through photosynthesis, then to the animals that ate the plants, and was eventually breathed out the carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.

“Keep going.” I prodded,
“Do we have to draw the dead rabbit?”
“What do you think?”
“Well we have a picture of a dead dog on our phone we found on our way home from school. Can we use that?”
“Heck yeah.”
dead catThey showed the picture around and explained that the carbon stored in living things is released after death during the process of decomposition.




cat giordon
But there is more to the story. The next day Giordon walks in all geared up carrying a plastic bag. Guess what was in the bag. If you think it was a dead dog, you would be wrong. We examined the carcass through the double plastic bags. It had passed through putrification and was pretty well dessicated. So it smelled sweet as opposed to rancid. We determined by the teeth and claws it was a cat.


cat bonesNot to be out done by my students, I brought the carcass home and soaked it in a bucket of water. The fur was stuck hard to the skull so it took all summer for it to finally separate. I fished the bones out with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Not a bad collection of bones. Some of the spine and ribs are still stuck in the guts, but the skull, leg bones and half the spine can be seen here. Remember some of the body tissue has been released as carbon gas back into the carbon cycle. That is what it is all about.

Pig Dissection

pig drawingThe last week of school the students had the option of doing a fetal pig dissection. They didn’t all participate, but they did the pre-lab, observed and answered questions. For those who did participate, they were fascinated and/or revolted, but they seemed to appreciate the opportunity.

Chelsea and Jovana chronicled Edith’s progress.
dissecting pigFirst: We observed the external anatomy.
Second: Figure out the characteristics that make it a mammal. It has nipples and is warm blooded.
Third: We looked at the ventral side (bottom) and the umbilical chord.
Fourth: We cut the umbilical chord and looked at the different openings.
Fifth: We tied down the pig to the dissecting tray.
Sixth: Edith cut the pig open using the diagram provided in the lab notes.
Seventh: She took out the liver (filters toxins out of the body) and observed the stomach that digests food.
Eighth: We observed, the small intestine that absorbs nutrients, the large intestine that removes waste and compacts the waste. The bladder was long and thin compared to a human. There was a peritoneum around the heart.
Lastly, Edith decided to remove and cut the large and small intestine. And the heart and kidneys.

SciTV Session 2

Tish cameraWe are starting the second session of SciTV this week. We will be meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:15 to 4:45.

The focus of the show is “REPTILES”. We are discussing what a reptile is–you might be surprised to find out the definition of a reptile. Reptiles in film, turtles, intelligence in reptiles and of course dinosaurs.

You will learn how to work professional quality cameras, do some acting, writing, and collaborating with some interesting folks!

Come join us! Contact Ms. Provencher and/or Mr. Ireland for the details.
PS this program covers missed absences!

Sea Turtles by Chelsea

sea turtle faceSea turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient creatures. Sea turtles are not like most turtles. Some can put their heads into their shells but sea turtles cannot. The fact that they cannot hide their heads in their shells makes them more vulnerable to predators because the shell is a hard protective cover and their heads and fins are easily destroyed by teeth or motors.

Sea turtles diets contain seaweed, crabs, shrimp, sponges, snails, algaes and mollusks, depending on the species. Different sea turtle species eat greens like sea grasses. Leatherbacks eat jellyfish and soft-bodied animals. Loggerheads eat heavy-shelled animals such as crabs and clams. Hawkshells eat sponges and other invertebrates and the Kemp’s Ridley prefers crabs.

sea turtlesSea turtles spend most of their time in water. We know this because they only leave the ocean to lay their eggs. Sea turtles can only be found in the warmest waters throughout the world. Some of them migrate for 1,400 miles between their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest. The female sea turtles go to beaches and dig out a nest with their back flippers to bury their eggs, then return to the ocean. The hatching eggs may take as long as a week to dig themselves out. Predators sometimes hunt for sea turtle nests for the eggs.

Sea turtles are in danger of extinction. This is because of fisheries, direct take-when motor boats hit them head-on, as well as pollution. Human construction causes the sea turtle population to die down because when construction happens where they would lay eggs, this habitat is destroyed; they have no place to build their nests or lay their eggs. The sea turtle  population decreases because the human population takes away the space that the sea turtles would use to live and breed.

Related Links:
Sea turtle defenders
Basic Facts about Sea turtles
See turtles

Shey-Dancing Bio-student

shey 3Shey is always singing. She raps about everything. She is good at it, really good at it. Last month she participated in a play about culture and color. The play was written by professional play-writes, but based on the stories of the young girls in the play. She being one of them. She was not shy. She got up there and did three shows for the whole school.
shey 1 shey 2

Their troupe is now going on a county-wide tour to share their stories and inspiration.


Optical Illusions by Henry

Optical illusions are caused by a trick on the brain which makes you think your seeing things that really not there., for example the spinning dancer, as you look at it one side of the brain thinks it’s spinning counter-clockwise and the other thinks it’s spinning the other way.
rabbit duck
Another is duck or rabbit, this one is quite mind blowing due to the brain sees a bunny but not a duck due to the mind sees only a rabbit but if you turn look at it just enough you see a duck which the mind hides the duck deep into the image so your eyes do not see a duck and your brain starts to get creative and starts to see a duck.
Most people see the duck first and can flip between the two representations, but the question is: how easy is it for you to flip between them? Does it require real mental strain, or can you do it at will?

triangle illusionThe last one confuse me is the three corners. The three corners messes with your brain they ask you if you see a triangle which a non real triangle  to appear and thinks it is a triangle but it’s not real  so it fools the person into thinking there is one, all it is just three corners, this effects the brain by putting the image in your mind which you will try to find one but as you search the mind soon thinks there is one in the three corners.

Science and Innovation Fair at the Berkshire Museum

scifair 3February 11th, 8 of our top biology students participated in the Fourth Annual Science and Innovation Fair, held at the Berkshire Museum in collaboration with SABIC. Over 100 students from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High school presented their scientific research or engineering projects.

Sam moldGreg Renfrew won first place with his project “Increasing the Efficiency of Photovoltaic Output Through the Addition of a Thermoelectric Generator” and Samatha Reu with her project, “Matter over Mind, Slime Mold”, won third place. Both will be moving on to the Region I Science and Engineering Fair to be held at MCLA on March 7, 2014.

Good work!

scifair BM 1scifair 4scifair6scifair5termitesscifair BM 21

Blood Typing Forensic Lab–Who done it?

blood testing lab 1A crime has happened and One-Eyed Earl was found murdered in a trash can with a wound on his chest. Next to the trash can was found a small pool of blood and the weapon. There are 3 suspects  for the murder but the CSI has to find out the blood type of the puddle in order to determine the killer. After a scenarios of tests we were able to determine the killer of One-Eyed Earl. In order to figure out who the killer was the CSI had to test the blood with Anti A Anti B and Anti Rh to determine the blood type of the puddle to see who’s blood matches up with the blood found at the sense of the crime.

Written and photographed by Willie & Kyle

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Plague INC. review

plague incAbout this game:

This highly addictive game was created for touchscreen by developer Ndemic Creations. The strategy is You vs. the world, can you use what you learned from biology class to survive?

In this game you unlock and upgrade diseases to wipe out the world. When you start a game you click on one country to infect. There are 2 ways of spreading the diseases. One, by air, so using airplanes. Two, by water, so by boat. The infection can also spread through the countries. While you are infecting the world, countries start on a cure. You have to wipe out the earth before the cure for your infection is found.

Description by written by Brandon