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Pink Lake Hillier in Australia

Can this be real??

The answer to that is ... YES!!  This is the pink Lake Hillier that is found in Australia.  Recently, in my Biology 1 classes, we were studying the characteristics of algae and other protists.  Algae are classified according to their color, and we were discussing the fact that the algae produce pigments of various colors.  There are green algae, brown algae, red algae, yellow-green algae, etc.  Most of us are extremely familiar with the green "pond-scum" that we commonly see in our local lakes, streams and ponds, so I wanted to give my students some examples that would be less familiar to them.

As a result, I did a little googling to see what I could find to use in my classes. I immediately zeroed in on this pink lake.  It didn't take much research to quickly realize that there are quite a few of these pink lakes around the world, and the exact cause of the "pinkness" is not completely agreed upon.

Lake Hillier seems to be the most famous of these pink lakes.  In quick and easy reading format, here are the facts:

  • Lake Hillier is located on Middle Island.  This is one of the largest islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia.
  • The lake is about 600 meters (2,000 feet) long and about 250 meters (820 feet) wide.
  • The lake is surrounded by a rim of sand, with a narrow strip of vegetation separating it from the Southern Ocean.
  • When viewed up close the color of the water is not as vibrant as when viewed from the air, but the pink color is permanent and is not a trick of the light.  When a sample is taken into a container it retains the pink color.
  • Lake Hillier is a salt water lake.  As a result, only two forms of life have been discovered living in its waters.  One is the algae known as 
    Dunaliella salina , and the other is a halophilic (salt-loving) bacteria.  These organisms produce carotenoids, giving the water a bubble gum pink color.
  • The salt content of the lake is comparable to the Dead Sea at about 40%
  • Although very salty, it is perfectly safe to swim in Lake Hillier.  The only problem is that it is very hard to get there!  Travel to the lake by helicopter is the most common method of travel.
  • Other pink lakes are found in Senegal, Canada, Spain and Azerbaijan.
Thanks for stopping by, and have fun teaching!

Teaching Fungi? Interactive Notebook Pages and Warm Ups Will Help!

What have I learned about interactive notebooks, warm ups and bell ringers during my first year of using them?

  • Time management is so important!  If you are not careful, this can consume way too much of your class time.
  • Utilize to the best of your ability, the first 5-10 minutes of your class.  Don't get bogged down in classroom chores.  Get your students right to work every single day.  A short warm up or bell ringer each day will get students working, while you are taking care of "stuff."
  • Reviewing a small amount of information each day has increased retention of information for my students.
  • The best comment ever from a student?  "These have really helped me remember the information for the test."
I began this journey at the beginning of this school year, and I can honestly say that I wish I had started this years ago.  Each year our class time seems to get shorter, and we have more information we are required to cover.  It seems to me that each year brings more and more interruptions to my class time.  

My goal at the beginning of the school year?  I wanted to find a way to better utilize each valuable minute of instruction time.  These activities (interactive notebooks and bell ringers) have accomplished that for me.  And added bonuses include:  (1) My students actually seem to enjoy them!  (2) The pages make great homework assignments.  (3) I can leave them in my sub folder for emergencies.  (4) The completed warm up notebook provides a perfect way to review for my semester exam.

Note:  This is just the latest in a long line of blog posts on this topic.  Use the search bar at the top of my blog to search for the other posts about interactive notebooks.

OK, so I need to get the topic of this particular blog post.  I have just finished using this technique to cover my unit on the Fungi.

I developed a set of 16 bell ringer pages to use with my unit.  Some of the pages were used at the beginning of my class as bell ringers, while other pages were used for homework assignments.  But all pages went into the warm up notebook that I require each student to keep.  Here are the highlights:

I have uploaded this set of interactive notebook pages on the fungi into my TpT Store.  

All of my interactive notebook sets can be view by clicking this image.

What's next? We are studying the protists now in my class.  I am am building a set of bell ringers to cover the algae and the protozoans.

It's February ... And That Means Daphnia Love is in the Air!

This is the PERFECT lab for a high school biology class on Valentine's Day!

I soooo look forward to this lab each and every year.  Measuring the heart rate in Daphnia is FUN, is fairly easy to do, allows our biology students to work with living organisms in the lab, and perhaps most importantly, it provides an outstanding situation for having our students design and implement their own experiment.

Are you nervous about "student-designed experiments"?  Don't be!  If properly trained and instructed on the front end, the students will surprise you with their creativity and passion for designing an experiment.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me go back to the beginning....

Daphnia are tiny crustaceans, closely related to a shrimp. They are often called "water fleas." They are small, but not microscopic.  They can be seen with the naked eye, but you will need a dissecting microscope to view the beating heart. Daphnia can be purchased from any of the companies that sell lab supplies and equipment. Since Daphnia are arthropods, they demonstrate the three major arthropod characteristics: exoskeleton, jointed appendages, and segmented body. The exoskeleton is clear, allowing the student to easily view the heart. Daphnia are ectotherms and their body temperature changes with the surrounding environment.  This further means that there is a direct relationship between the internal body activities and the external temperature of the water in which it lives.

This sets the stage for the first part of our experiment.  I have my students carry out an experiment where they measure the change in heart rate when Daphnia are exposed to different temperatures.  I provide the procedure, and the student simply follows the instructions and carries out the lab.  The Daphnia are exposed to three different temperatures, and the student counts the number of heart beat per minute in each environmental condition.

Students carry out my procedure, graph their results, and answer my questions.  On Day 2, the fun begins!  It is time for the students to design their own experiment!  They are asked to design an experiment to test the effect of caffeine on the heart rate of Daphnia.  The students must state a hypothesis, describe their experimental and control groups, carry out the experiment, collect their data, graph their data, and come to a conclusion based on their data. 

The student-designed experiment will take some time.  I require my students to write their experiment and submit it to me for approval before they begin. Once approved, they carry out their experiment and write a formal lab report. The best learning occurs as the student is carrying out their experiment.  They invariably realize that their procedure is flawed, and they must revise, revise, and revise until they get it right.

For my honors and AP students I require that they also complete a worksheet on how to calculate the Q10 temperature coefficient.

And this is what we do to celebrate Valentine's Day in my biology classroom.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

In my TpT Store: "Measuring the Heart Rate of Daphnia" contains handouts for all parts of this experiment, including the student designed experiment and the Q10 worksheet.  Teacher Guide included. 

The Latest eBook for Science (and Other) Teachers

These are the simple truths:  Teachers are busy, busy, busy! Teachers spend WAY too much of their own money for materials for their classroom.  Teachers are always on the look-out for something new and innovative for their kids.

Well, the teacher/authors of TpT are here to help.  This is the latest of the FREE eBooks that you can download.  These eBooks (there is one for each subject area) will provide middle and high school teachers with instant resources that can be used immediately in the classroom.  Simply print and teach!!  

The Science eBook has 30 contributors, so that is 30 FREE resources for your classroom.  Each science teacher submitted two pages:  The first page tells you a little about the teacher, and the second page is a resource that we hope you can use ... and use ... and use!

You'll find pages from all of these amazing science teachers!

There are four eBooks, one for each subject area.  You can download them all at the following links:

Thanks goes to these amazing ladies for their hard work in compiling these fantastic resources for our fellow teachers:  Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, and Lindsay Perro.

Remember, all of these eBooks are free downloads, and I have no doubt that you will find plenty that you can use in your classroom

Have fun teaching!