Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Simpsons Evolution Intro

I'm not a huge Simpsons fan (I'd consider myself to be a moderate fan), but the intro linked below has to be the most original one ever! Watch the video, and note the path in which evolution occurs.....from single celled organisms (Homer-bacteria) on through the development of simple multicellular organisms (Homer-jellyfish), step by step as complex reptiles and mammals evolve. Amazing. I just wish that we could view it in class.

Here's a question for you.....and I want to see your responses (is anyone reading this out there?): which gas, when produced, enabled the "Homer-fish" to make their way out of the water and evolve into terrestrial (land-dwelling) animals?


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The second week is nearly over.....

And I think that I've got most of your names down! Have you noticed that I've been calling on you by name, even though you haven't remembered to keep your name plaquard on your desk? Not bad, eh?

This week, we covered the Scientific Method....the systematic process in which we search for solutions to problems. Can you recall the steps of the Scientific Method in order?

Let's review:

  1. State the problem/Ask the question. What are you looking to solve?

  2. Gather information on the topic. Research the subject of your investigation (ask a professional, use the internet, go to the library)

  3. Form a hypothesis. Propose a solution to the problem.

  4. Experiment. Carry out a plan to test your hypothesis.

  5. Record and analyze data. Organize the information that you gathered in data tables or diagrams, and create graphs to visually represent your results.

  6. Form a conclusion. What can you conclude from your experiment? Was your hypothesis correct? What could you improve about the experiment?

In an experiment that you are looking to discover how effective something is, two test groups must be studied. One group will be the variable group, or the group that receives the factor that you are testing. The other group is the control, the group in which the variable is not altered. The control is used as a benchmark to measure the variable's effect.

Let's take a look at the following experiment that was designed to see how important rich soil is to the growth of a plant:

A student hypothesized that plants grown in poor soil will not develop as well as plants grown in good soil.

Both test groups must develop with the same conditions: same variety of plant seeds used, same amount of water used, both exposed to the same amount of sunlight, etc.

Only one factor can be different between the two groups; in this experiment, the type of soil used would differ. Only one variable can be tested at a time, or you will not be able to determine what caused the observed results. In this experiment, the variable was the type of soil used. The student was then able to conclude that plants grown in good soil grow taller than plants grown in poor soil. If the student had changed other conditions between the two groups, he may not be able to determine which factor actually produced taller plants.

We will end this week with a Scientific Method quiz and a review of appropriate laboratory behavior. Next week will begin with the characteristics of living things and the beginning of our unit on Evolution.

Enjoy your weekend.....create stunning lab safety posters over the weekend.....and rest up. Next week will be packed with learning!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School

Welcome to your first year at Hackensack Middle School! I am so excited to meet each and every one of you in class....but please don't be offended if I don't immediately remember your name (with nearly 90 students, it will take me some time to know all of you).

This year will see some changes for us all - you will be adjusting to life in the Middle School, and we teachers will be getting used to the new bell schedule (the students are not the only ones who will be checking their schedules to see where they have to go!). However, just like with everything else, we will get used to these changes and wonder why we ever thought that they would be challenging!

Hopefully, your new locker will not be giving you any trouble....but just in case it is, either ask a nearby teacher for help or watch the video posted below to help you navigate through the unlocking process:

I hope that your first day in the Middle School went very well. I am very excited to start this new school year with you! Please remember that your teachers are always there for you if you have any questions or need to talk about anything.

Have a wonderful and successful 2008-09 academic year!