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Another FREEBIE! Cellular Respiration Word Game Review

Great review with a secret message!

This is a FREE download!  Click red text below to receive your free copy of this worksheet:

Currently, our Biology I classes are covering cellular respiration. This may seem odd to many of you.  Who waits until the end of February to teach cellular respiration?  The answer to this question:  Those of us who teach on a trimester system! Teaching on a trimester system is the topic of a whole different blog article!! We are currently teaching cell respiration to students who began their biology course at the beginning of the second trimester.

Cellular respiration is one of the hardest topics a biology teacher has to teach during their course.  Its very abstract nature makes it particularly hard for many students to comprehend.  In my experience, the best approach is to provide as many opportunities as possible for the students to review and work with the information.  To give my students some extra review on the vocabulary words used in this unit,  I wrote this short review worksheet.

The printable lesson is perfect for traditional classroom settings, and the paperless, digital Google Apps version is perfect for distance learning and 1:1 classrooms. 

On the left side of the worksheet, a definition is given.  The student must write the correct term in the spaces to the right.  There are 28 vocabulary words used on this review worksheet.  The vocab words are:  pyruvic acid, protons, glucose, aerobic, matrix, adenosine triphosphate, ATP synthase, water, adenine, respiration, oxygen, lactic acid, Kreb's cycle, alcoholic, phosphate, glycolysis, citric acid, NADH, electron transport chain, cristae, mitochondria, carbon dioxide, fermentation, cytoplasm, thirty eight, anaerobic, ribose, and acetate.

The boxed in letters will spell out a secret message.  The students record these letters in the blanks at the end of the worksheet to reveal the hidden message.   WARNING:  Make sure you read the hidden message before you pass out this worksheet.  It involves the giving of extra credit points on the test!  This is such a hard concept for so many students that I am happy to offer them some extra credit points if they complete this review worksheet.

This is just one of several types of review I do for this topic.  I am happy to share this vocabulary worksheet with you.  I hope you find it useful.

Happy Teaching!!

Lab: Determining the Density of Unknown Metals

Click on picture to download this lab for free.

Here is a brand new FREEBIE for you!

I have a friend who is a newly starting science teacher in our local middle school.  She has many years of teaching experience, but is new to the wonderful world of science.  Due to all sorts of factors beyond her control, she has been teaching a science class this year.  The textbook being used is neither life science nor physical science, but a spiraling mix of both.

Most of you know me as a biology teacher, but in my 28 years of high school teaching, I have taught chemistry classes for at least 15 of those years.  This week end my friend needed help, so together we came up with this idea for a simple lab that she could do.

I have added this lab to my store on, but it is FREE for the taking.  I hope that it will benefit many of you.  Just click the link below to download.

Lab: Determining the Density of Unknown Metals

The materials list for this lab is simple:  a balance, a graduated cylinder, and different pieces of metal.  You can use any metals that you might have available.  Most middle and high school labs will have pieces of aluminum, copper, magnesium, lead, and zinc.  This lab will work with whatever you have available.

The idea is very simple.  Students will determine the mass and volume of the metal strips, and use this data to calculate the density.  The student does not know the identity of the metal.  From a list of densities provided, the student will determine the identity of each metal.  We added 12 analysis  and follow up questions that are thought provoking and require some critical thinking skills.  And since standardized testing is almost upon us, we added a graphing exercise (involving density) to reinforce the graphing skills that were taught earlier.  Here is a quick look at a few of the pages.  An answer key is provided with the download.

Enjoy this new freebie and Happy Teaching!

Also related:

Citizen Science.....Revisited....Get Involved!

Back in December, I wrote a blog article on Citizen Science from the Scientific American website.  (Click here to read the original blog post.)  I like this idea so much that I wanted to follow up on it.

This week end you can participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count.  This event will be taking place from Friday, Feb 17 through Monday, Feb 20.    From their web site:  "The Great Backyard Bird Count is a 4 day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.  Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts.  It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event.  It's free, fun and easy - and it helps the birds".

It is not too late to sign up.  You can find all of the information here.

What is the count used for?  The data is used by scientists to answer questions about populations, migration patterns, the effect of environmental influences on populations, how weather patterns affect populations, and much more.  The details can be seen by clicking the link above.

We do not have school on Monday since it is President's Day.  I am the sponsor of the science club at our school.  The 30 member science club is meeting at our local animal shelter on that day for a day of community service.  We will be raking, cleaning up the outdoor play areas for the dogs, scooping poop along the walking trail, and no doubt cleaning out animal cages of all types.  But we will also be participating in the Great  Backyard Bird Count.  Our animal shelter is on the edge of town in a wooded area.  I just hope we will be able to identify and count the numerous birds that we will see!!

This is a fabulous activity for the entire family and it is not too late to sign up and join in on the fun!  Plan an outdoor event with your family this week end and include the Great Backyard Bird Count as part of your activities.

 Finally, I want to share this new link with you.  This is an article I just read on  It is called, "Citizen Science Goes Extreme."  This was a well written and very informative article about the need for citizens world-wide to participate in scientific research and the preservation of habitats.

What Can A Biology Teacher Do On Valentine's Day?

The only time I regret being a high school teacher is around a holiday. 

Don't get me wrong.... I love teaching high school biology, and I particularly love the teenagers that I teach.  But, I see the elementary teachers doing so many cute and fun activities that just look so adorable!  And they have incredibly cute decorations for every season!  Sigh..... I only have my collection of Einstein posters haphazardly stuck around the walls.  In high school, there are generally two problems with celebrating the different holidays in our classrooms:  One, the students think they are too cool and too grown up to be doing silly kid stuff.  And two, if "it" is not on the blasted standardized test at the end of the year, then woe be unto you who deviate from the "you must teach to the test" curriculum plan!!

For me, it just so happens that I usually manage to be teaching the circulatory system around Valentine's Day. Although not nearly so fun as exchanging valentines and getting lots of treat bags, at least it does involve the heart.  And I bribe my students with candy.  What is better than labeling the parts of the heart while munching on chocolate hearts?  None of my high school students have ever been too cool to turn down my candy!!

So what can a high school biology (or any science) teacher do for Valentine's Day?  Even though I don't dare stray from my stringent curriculum map, I thought I would do a little searching on the web for fun/interesting things you can use in your middle or high school science class on the sweetest day of the year.

So don't go anywhere.  I am about to go search the web for a few links for you.  I'll be right back!

Okay, here is some of the cool stuff I found.  The first thing I found was a short activity on writing a biology or science related poem.  This can be done in class and will only take a small portion of your class time.  Students can be placed in groups and asked to write their poem with a partner, especially since Valentine's Day is all about partners.  This activity covers a lot of bases:  you are still teaching science, it is a cross-curricular activity, AND students are doing group work.  (This  would score me lots of points in our state evaluation system!)  Here is the complete lesson, if you want to click over to it:  Biology Valentines

How about this one?  Here is an article entitled, "Valentine's Day Dating Tips From Lovestruck Scientists".  In this article, there are dating tips with scientific research studies to back them up.  Even if you don't want to read these to your science class, you should go read them!  This is very interesting reading!

How about a lab activity?  This activity is called Crystal Hearts and looks like it would be a lot of fun.  It doesn't really fit in my biology curriculum, but it would be great for a middle school general science class or a high school physical science class.  (Yes, the clip art shows a cheese heart - not a crystal heart - but I just liked this picture!)

How about creating secret, invisible messages while teaching a little acid/base chemistry?  Here is a free download from my friend at Nitty Gritty Science.

Here is an article to make all of your students feel better about all the chocolate they have been eating all day long:  Eat Chocolate!  It's Good For You!   This article should eliminate a lot of guilt!

And last, here is a current event.  I have decided to take time out of my busy class schedule to show this short video clip.  It is called "Humanoid Robot Woos Valentine Shoppers."  This is one amazing-looking robot!!

Measuring Heart Rate in Daphnia

My students always enjoy this lab!

This week our biology 1 classes are measuring the heart rate in an organism called Daphnia.  Daphnia is a crustacean in the phylum Arthropoda.  Daphnia is visible with the naked eye, but a microscope must be used to see the heart and to count the number of heart beats per minute.

The variable that we tested was temperature.  How does an increase in temperature affect the heart rate of Daphnia?

If this sounds like an experiment you would like to try with your students, here are the steps to the procedure as well as the equipment needed:

  1. You must have some sort of container or mechanism in which to place the Daphnia so that it can be viewed under the microscope.  We purchased little plastic containers (see photos) that have a removable  "lid".  Using a large bore dropping pipet, the Daphnia is transferred to the container.  
  2. We had our students place a few threads from a cotton ball on top of the Daphnia.  This helps to hold the Daphnia in one place while the heart rate is being measured.
  3. To make this procedure easier for our classes, we measured three different temperatures:  a cold temp, room temp, and a warm temp.
  4. Fill a small plastic Petri dish with ice.  Place the Daphnia/container on top of the ice.  (See photos).  After a few minutes, locate the heart, and count the number of beats per minute.  We have our students count heart beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.
  5. Next students remove the ice from the Petri dish and fill the dish with water that is at room temperature.  The heart rate is again counted at this new temperature.
  6. Finally, water is heated to a temp of 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and placed in the Petri dish.
  7. Students graph the relationship between temperature and heart rate.

The biggest problem with this lab is helping the student to find the heart.  The digestive system of Daphnia is quite active, and the students often think that the moving digestive system is the heart.  The heart is located just behind the head on the dorsal surface of the body.  It will appear as a very small, clear and transparent, beating sack.

The results are predictable:  As the temperature increases, the heart rate increases.  Even though the results are very predictable, I continue to do this lab for many reasons.

The benefits of this lab? 
  • Labs keep the student excited and interested in science.  
  • If the student views your class as "fun", they are more likely to tolerate and perform well in the parts of the class that are less fun.....think lecture days.
  • Working with living organisms is a fundamental part of a biology class and should be included at every opportunity.
  • Students gain an appreciation for the living world when they get to view organisms that they are unlikely to see or notice in nature.
What do you do with the Daphnia when the lab is over?  Well, our Daphnia will spend the remainder of their days in my Elodea tank!