Monday, May 29, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 5/21


Week two of attempting to synthesize ferrofluid was again unsuccessful. Like week one, however, I learned a lot.

Lesson #1: ferrofluid is a lot harder to make than the internet says. My attempt of mixing ferric chloride with iron powder failed, which isn’t too surprising since I was improvising based on a mixture of ferrofluid recipes from a bunch of different places. This is where I learned....

Lesson #2: when it comes to complex chemistry, don’t improvise. It turns out that this didn’t work because the iron chunks (even though very small) were too large to be suspended in the oil the way I wanted. The iron particles in ferrofluid are microscopically tiny, which is why it works the way it does, and iron powder is too large. Making smaller iron particles is very difficult, and it’s what I’ve been working on since I figured out what was wrong with my previous attempt. I found a new recipe that seems much more trustworthy, since it was made by a chemistry teacher, and I’ve been trying to follow it for the majority of the week. The first step in the recipe is to basically mix ferric chloride with steel wool until it turns green. This didn’t work at first because I tried to use 1M ferric chloride, which was too weak to dissolve the steel wool and carry out the reaction. Using my shaky chemistry skills I managed to make 1.5M ferric chloride, which worked a little better. Once I had the right solution, I spent all week stirring in steel wool in the attempt to get a neon green solution. This brings us to...

Lesson #3: read the directions! This was the stupidest mistake I made, and also the most important lesson. I had seen somewhere in the recipe that the solution was supposed to turn bright green, and mine was only turning a murky brownish green, which I didn’t think was a good sign. I kept making a stronger solution of ferric chloride, eventually getting up to around 2M, but it kept turning the same murky green. Eventually I reread the directions more thoroughly and realized this was because I needed to filter the solution (oops). After filtering, it turned bright green, like I’d been hoping all week. If I'd read the directions better, I could've saved myself three days of stirring steel wool.

This week I’ll attempt the most complicated (and dangerous) part of the process. Hopefully by Friday I'll be the proud creator of some ferrofluid To the fume hood I go!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 5/15


This week was a lot of Genius Hour trial and error. I decided to make ferrofluid for my project, which is basically a liquid that responds to a magnetic field and has a lot of cool uses, since it is a liquid carrier. I found a few recipes for ferrofluid online, and the easiest one was to soak cassette tape ribbons in acetone to strip the iron from the tapes, and then to add vegetable oil to goop it up a bit. Unfortunately, this absolutely didn’t work. I’m not really sure why this is, since several sources said it would, but tried a different approach, which is to basically add ferric chloride to iron particles, and then add vegetable oil. I left the iron/ferric chloride to dry out, so tomorrow I’ll add vegetable oil to see if I actually made ferrofluid or if I have to try a different (more chemistry heavy) approach to making it. Hopefully this will work so I can start messing around with it this week, but if it doesn’t it’ll still work out since I have enough time to try a few other things.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reflection for Week of May 8


This week was exam week! I spent most of this week either taking or studying for exams, so I didn’t get a ton of bio done. I was only in class two days, and only Friday was really spent seriously exploring Genius Hour ideas. Initially, I wanted to do an experiment with jellyfish and how they adjust to certain pHs, since jellyfish are supposed to survive climate change well since they can adjust to changing water acidity. Unfortunately, jellyfish are absurdly expensive so I’ve had to scrap that idea. Something that we touched on this year that I would like to learn more about it electromagnetism, but I’m still in the stages of coming up with an actual idea out of this. Hopefully tomorrow and the next day I can fine tune an idea so I can get started on my project.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 4/24


This week we spent a lot of time on the transpiration lab, and also covered some information on neurons and ecology. I think that I did well on the work this week. A lot of the stuff on neurons I was already familiar with since we covered it in Psych last year, but it was a nice review and refresher on terminology and the details of how the charges drive signals. All of the ecology stuff was interesting and not something I feel like I’ll have to study since it makes a lot of sense already. The transpiration lab was a nice way to review some of the properties of water and also look at plant anatomy, and it was interesting to see how environmental factors (in this case salt) affected a process that I already know about. Moving forward I just need to study for the AP exam, which is in about a week! To do this I’ll review vodcasts and the textbook, making sure to go back through everything we’ve done and spend a bit more time on things that are more difficult for me, like energetics and specific vocabulary that might come up.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 4/10

This was another short week, since I missed Friday and Thursday was entirely spend on an exam. The other three days we spent with the hearts! This was really cool and I think I definitely gained a better understanding of the anatomy of hearts and more of how that plays into the circulatory system. Reviewing for the exam also helped cement all the knowledge from this unit, so overall I think I gained a lot out of this week as far as material and understanding go. This coming week I'll spend more time reviewing the maintenance information and becoming more confident on all the Unit 5 content, as well as reviewing earlier content since the AP exam is approaching.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 4/3


This was a pretty short week because of SATs and the early release, but I still think the work went pretty well. This week we started on Domain 5, which is regulation. This is something that we didn’t really cover in advanced bio, so I’m having to put a little more time into learning it well. So far, though, I think I’m doing well on the work for this domain. The group project we did this week was really helpful to get a good overview of a lot of different processes and get into the specifics of them a little bit as well. I think this week, especially with the exam coming up, I’ll spend a lot of time reviewing the information by rewatching some vodcasts, going over my notes, and reading the textbook. That should give me a pretty solid understanding of all of the material that we’re covering this unit.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 3/27

This week we did work on Domains 4.5-4.9. I felt pretty good on all of the work and information this week. The information unit is one that I feel pretty confident in, especially everything with inheritance and genetics that we’ve been doing lately. The fly lab this week was cool since normally we know parental genotypes and have to predict F1 or F2 phenotypes, but this time we were able to work backwards, looking at the F1 phenotypes and trying to guess parental genotypes. It was a cool application of everything we’ve been doing so far. To improve this week I think that I’ll put some time into studying and memorizing terms; I’m struggling with that more than actually doing out any crosses. To do this I’ll probably read the textbook and maybe make some flashcards if everything really isn’t sinking in.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 3/20

I think I did pretty well on the work this week. We’re focusing on the Information Domain, specifically Domain 4.6ish. Genetics and inheritance is something that I remember pretty well from Advanced Bio, so most of what we did this week felt like review and sort of refreshing all of that old knowledge. The packet we did on Chi Square stuff and Mendelian Genetics was a pretty helpful review and felt pretty easy for the most part, which means I understand everything well. I think I’m still a little shaky on the specifics of crossing over, so that’s something I can review more this week. To improve going forward I think I can put a little more time into the homework since over the past week I’ve been rushing through it to finish up work for other classes. If I focus more on the details of everything I think I can be more successful this week.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Examining Cancer Patient Data

Three things I learned:
  1. Some genes and chromosomes are very common among the different types of cancers, such as the TP53 gene on chromosome 17.
  2. Mutations causing changes in the function of cell fate genes or cell survival genes are very common, while mutations in genome maintenance genes are more rare and appear less often.
  3. There are way more different mutations than I had previously thought (over 144), although each individual patient usually had around three or four mutations.
Two things that surprised or interested me:
  1. It surprised me how much variety in mutation types and locations there is, even within the same type of cancer.
  2. It was interesting how many different types of research are being done about cancer, including testing different solutions and possible ways to screen for it. Researchers are very creative in the ways they approach the problem, and looking at how creative they were is interesting to see.
One question I still have:

  1. Why do cancer causing mutations cluster on the chromosomes that they do? Some larger chromosomes had fewer mutations or less frequent ones, while smaller chromosomes sometimes had a greater number of mutations or mutations that appeared more frequently. Is there some reason that the mutations that cause cancer appear where they do, or why some are more common than others?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of March 6

This week we focused on Standards 4.4, 4.5, and 4.6 which was mainly mitosis/meiosis. This is something that we covered pretty well in bio before, so I think I had a strong foundation to build off of and was pretty much doing review, which made it easier to feel solid on the information. Meiosis and mitosis are pretty straightforward, I just need to put a little more time into memorizing exactly what goes on in each phase. The diploid/haploid thing also is always a little confusing for me; I think I overthink it and second guess myself because it’s a bit counterintuitive at times. I was out for a few days this week, so I had to take some time out of class and make sure that I was understanding the information. I think doing the click and learn helped me with the mutations/cancer stuff, but predicting the effects of certain mutations on cells was sort of difficult for me. Reading the textbook helped make me feel more comfortable with everything, so even though I was out I still feel pretty good with the new information. This coming week to review for the exam I’ll definitely go back through the vodcasts over all the information, and will make sure to put more time into information/concepts I’m struggling with more.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of 2/27


This week we did the PCR lab! I think this lab went well, and even though my band didn’t show up at the end it was a great experience to be able to see PCR in action. Biotechnology is one of the reasons that I think bio is such a cool field, and it’s been nice to get into a little bit of the specific types of biotechnology and how they’re being used. I think I understand PCR well as a result of the lab, since I was able to see how every step we did contributed to the end result, and how even a small difference can totally throw everything off. Overall I think I understood the biotechnology stuff well, although I think that I could put a little bit more time into studying going forward. Just doing simple stuff like making time to read the textbook or review my notes thoroughly will help me get a good handle on the new information, and over this next week I’ll try to do that.
This week we also talked about viruses a little bit (Domain 4.3). I’m a little more familiar with the virus information, so it was easier for me to relearn and I think I have a good understanding of it. However, I’ll also be sure to read the relevant textbook sections this week on Domain 4.3 and for whatever new information we start on. To improve over this need week I’ll keep track of everything that I need to be doing and make sure that I’m prepared for class every day, and I’ll put time into any areas that I’m having trouble with.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of February 6


I think I did pretty well on the work this week. I felt comfortable with all of the older information on DNA structure and function, as well as replication, transcription, and translation. I think the play-dough activity helped solidify all the details of transcription and translation. Everything to do with mutations and the different types, as well as how they occur and the effect they have, I also understand well. I think over the next week or so I could improve by trying to stay more up to date on the vodcasts, since other than that everything this past week went well. I can do this by keeping track of what I need to get done and planning better when I should do it. As far as content goes, though, I think this week went well.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekly Reflection for Week of January 30


This week we started on Domain 4: Information. I think I did well on the work this week. The majority of it was vodcasts and packets, all of which I think I understood and completed well. The beginning of this unit has been nice for me since it feels like a review of bio from freshman year, and I feel like I’m refreshing myself on the knowledge instead of learning something completely new. The argument assignment we had this week also reinforced this knowledge and reiterated how the genetic makeup of families are related, which was good. Everything to do with the structure and function of DNA/RNA I feel really good on, although the details of replication, transcription, and translation are something I need to put a little more time into to fully have down. That’s an area I could definitely improve on in the coming weeks, so that I have a really full understanding of this unit. I think to do this I’ll read the online textbook and maybe rewatch the parts of the vodcast that I was unsure of. Coming out of this week I’m feeling pretty solid though and am looking forward to continuing with this unit.