29 December 2006

An update from the Ithaca Sciencenter: The "Science Minutes: Write for the Radio Contest 2007" is now closed. Thank you to the elementary and middle school students who entered the contest in November and December 2006. The winners will be announced in early Spring 2007. Fifteen scripts will be selected, edited and recorded for broadcast. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
Just thought I'd share one of my favorite Christmas presents. This is a pineapple plant. It will be on display in the classroom to remind everyone that our food DOES NOT come from a grocery store, but from the soil...something we should all respect. Hope everyone is having a nice break. Happy New Year!

22 December 2006

Today we went on the annual middle school holiday trip. This year we visited the sports complex in Homer and the movie theater in Cortland. We all had an excellent time. I hope everyone enjoys the holiday break with their friends and family.

21 December 2006

Today we read over a few select pieces of writing. Thanks for all of your comments and feedback. There were some really good comments and a lot of you showed me you, yourselves, are excellent writers. Looking forward to tomorrow's field trip.

20 December 2006

Today in Tri-sci we took the next steps in trying to solve our crime. We tested ink from the ransom letter to that of three sample pens. By comparing the ink spread we were able to narrow down the possibilities. This is a very cool lab that is actually a NYS required lab skill at the high school level.

18 December 2006

SKYLER K., SCOTT D., and GEORGE M. get a close look at a little mitosis action in onion root tip cells. We used root tips because the cells are rapidly multiplying to increase the surface area for water absorbtion. Remember that we have a test Wednesday on Diffusion, Photosynthesis, Respiration, and Cell Reproduction. Make sure you organize your notes and handouts because you will get to use them on the exam. NOT your books, however.

13 December 2006

Today DANIELLE S. brought in a baby mouse. Even though it looked like a naked mole rat, mice (like some mammals) are born without hair.

12 December 2006

This week Mrs. Williams' class stopped by to do some science. Here they are working on the egg diffusion lab.

11 December 2006

Hey guys,

Please remind your parents to come out and vote tomorrow on the building project!


-Mr. D.

10 December 2006

Here is a pretty amazing article I just found. These discoveries illustrate that the oceans are truly the last frontier on the planet.
"A new type of crab with a furry appearance, near Easter Island. It was so unusual it warranted a whole new family designation, Kiwaidae, named for Kiwa, the Polynesian goddess of shellfish. Its furry appearance justified its species name, hirsuta, meaning hairy."

It is also very rare when a whole new "family" (remember KPCOFGS) is discovered.

08 December 2006

MEGAN B. looks on as the mass of her egg is calculated. Today we witnessed osmosis, as our eggs' water surrendered to the outside corn syrup layer overnight. Make sure you do a GOOD job answering these lab questions. We did a very authentic scientific experiment here. Reread your data, and compare that to what we talked about in class relating to diffusion and osmosis. Don't forget to address your hypothesis as well.
Last night the 7th grade boys modified basketball team coasted to an easy victory over Moravia. Nice job guys.

07 December 2006

Members of the 7th grade were in charge of the school store today. Props to Mrs. Aarne for taking charge of this. It is a great experience for the students to run something like this...plus it's fun.
These boys are in the middle of pouring corn syrup onto their eggs. So what do you guys think will happen to our bulging eggs after submerging them into the syrup for 24 hrs? Remember we've been talking about diffusion: the movement of particles from a high concentration to low.

Today we also finished the Jane Goodall IMAX film on chimpanzees and her committment to educate people around the world of their dire status. She is an amazing human being who has done a lot to conserve our closest living relatives. More Jane Goodall clips can be viewed here and here.

Learn more about Jane's Roots and Shoots program.

06 December 2006

Today we witnessed that the acidic vinegar completely dissolved our eggshells, exposing the membrane. This is the same process by which acid rain ruins limestone statues and buildings. ALEN Q. and PETER F. add distilled water to their eggs for another 24 hrs.

05 December 2006

DANIELLE S., JESSE S., and DANICA G. get ready to calculate the mass of their egg in preparation for the egg diffusion/ osmosis lab. Tomorrow we will see what happens to egg shell after being submerged in vinegar for 24 hrs.

04 December 2006

Today Ryan Goupil came in to speak to us about parasites. He is a 3rd year Cornell student who is studying to become a veterinarian. Above, students get a closer look at the samples of heartworms, tapeworms, fleas, ticks, and hookworms Ryan brought in with him. Do you guys still want to be vets? = )

01 December 2006

This week students handed in their 3D cell models. I was very pleased with the amount of effort put into these. Here are the models from BRYAN B., EMILY F., and JASON H.

29 November 2006

Here is a great opportunity for interested students and families! This Sunday the Ithaca Sciencenter is offering free admission from noon-5pm. At 1pm there is a workshop called "Fun and physics of skiing and snowboarding" at 2pm a workshop on "Animal Tracks" and at 3pm there is a workshop on "Winter family fun and safety". So peel yourself away from the Nintendo Wii and go check out this incredible place filled with all sorts of cool activities!

28 November 2006

This week we started our winter-long bird watching program. We got off to a slow start with the unseasonably warm weather (and "outside rec." as a source of error), but we have still seen several species including BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and NORTHERN CARDINALS. Thanks to those who have donated seed and old ink cartridges/cell phones to help defray the cost of seed. Here, TYLER P., MAC R., and SCOTT D. are in search of songbirds.
Today we got a good look at a typical animal cell. CHAD W. demonstrates the scraping technique used to remove cheek cells. Cheek cells are eukaryotic cells from a multicellular consumer. Tomorrow we begin reviewing for Friday's cell test.

27 November 2006

Tonight the Groton girls modified Volleyball team crushed Dryden 3 games to (a big fat) zero! Nice Job Ladies. I will try to make it to more of the next home match. I promise. Above, MALLORY M. reacts to a tough overhand serve.

21 November 2006

Today we saw a powerpoint presentation on local bird-feeder birds and went over our winter volunteer feeder-watch program. Students can sign up to watch at Rec. on Monday and Fridays or afterschool on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays. Remember, there is a late bus those days. I hope everyone enjoys their thanksgiving break with their family. Remember, those cell projects are due Tuesday 28 Nov. Photo courtesy of Randy at www.randyelrod.typepad.com

20 November 2006

Tonight the 7th grade Modified boys basketball team coasted to an easy 38-28 victory over Southern Cayuga. Above, the boys get warmed up after half time.

18 November 2006

Soda (pop) is very interesting...since KAITLYNN H. mentioned the pH of the stuff in a recent comment. Personally, I think it is horrible...and that's the ONE thing I would change about Tri-sci. Kids love it and I feel like a "grown-up" when I talk bad about it. But it's a fact that (especially in women) the acids in soda are very bad for us. We are all encouraged to get a lot of calcium "for our bones" right?? The acid in soda actually prevents our bones from absorbing that calcium. This is especially true for females as many become prone to osteoporosis later in life.

In the 1950's Coca-Cola was considered a Friday evening treat that you drank at the movies or while you're hanging out with that special someone before a make-out session on that point overlooking the cityscape, but today the average American drinks 55 gallons of soda a year! In contrast, how many gallons of water do you drink a year?

Soda causes the lack of calcium absorption, cavities, american childhood obesity, and numerous other health problems. In spite of all this you might think: "Man, if it's that bad then why do we allow the machines in our cafeteria?" The answer is $$$$. Schools are so desperate for funding that we allow Pepsi or Coke to put their machines in the cafeteria because they pay us a lot of money to have them there and advertise their logo. In return, we get money to buy science lab supplies, supplies for school dances, field trip funding, new furniture, etc. Kinda messed up right??? I agree. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of green tea or unsweetened fruit juice...come see me.

Saturday about 30 members from Tri-sci went to the Corning Museum of Glass. What a cool place that was! First we watched a demo on how glass is blown and then we went on a cool guided tour of the museum. This place is definitely worth checking out...plus kids 17 and under get in free!

17 November 2006

There's no better way to celebrate the 100th post on Grotonsciencegeek than with an awesome game of staff basketball. Even though the middle school came up short (and the Big Bird choked on the worm) I can honestly say that was the best thing the school has organized since I have been here. What a great time with awesome coaching from Mrs. Filzen, MIKE G., DANA S., QUIN W., KEEGAN D., and MIKE M.

16 November 2006

Cell Model Project

Background: Too often cells are portrayed as two dimensional, flat objects on a paper, but really they are three dimensional, flexible units.

Procedure: For this project you will build your very own 3-D model of a plant or animal cell. You can use any materials you like but it should not be too big, or small enough to sacrifice detail. Please just use things around your house. There is no need to go out and drop $20 on materials.

Requirements: For your project you need to include and label all of the organelles listed below. They should be large enough to see. You also need to include a sheet with your organelles listed and write each of their functions next to them.

Tips: Use pages 68-75 in your books for help in labeling and constructing. The internet will also be helpful.

Due Date: The cell model along with the cell sheet will be due Tuesday, 28 November. That’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving break. This will be worth 100 points

Make Sure You State Whether You Are Doing A Plant Or Animal Cell


Nucleus                              Nucleolus
Cell Membrane                 Ribosomes
Cell Wall (plant only)       Golgi Complex
Endoplasmic Reticulum   Lysosomes (animal only)
Chloroplast (plant only)   Vacuoles

Here are links for plant cell and animal cell diagrams.  To find more run a Google image search for "plant cell" and "animal cell"
Here is another good resource - This page has an organelle list with functions.
Today Christina Hilo was in to teach us about different types of wetlands and the plants and animals that are found in these very unique habitats. Here, EMMA G., illustrates one of the many adaptations cat-tails have developed for life in moist, anoxic environments.

Today was also Tri-sci day for the 7th grade girls. Today's activity involved determining the pH of certain liquids. Here STEPHANIE, FELICIA, MARISSA, JENNA, and SIERRA test the pH of simulated urine using litmus paper and pH indicator paper.

14 November 2006

Today I finished up grades for the first marking period. Overall, I feel we did very well. I think the grades are higher than last year's...partly because you guys took advantage of the extra credit more than they did. The following students got above a 90 (in no particular order): MARISSA N., RICKY N., KEEGAN D., BRETT C., EMILY F., MARIE R., JORDAN T., STEPHANIE B., JENNA S., KYLE J., ERICA S., MOLLY D., KYLE G., STEVEN S., LEVI H, ALEN Q, BRANDON P., COURTNEY W., JASON H. You guys should be proud of yourselves. All of that hard work WILL pay off down the road. Lets see if we can get even more of you in the 90s next marking period!

Today, Cornell junior, Susan Newman came in to teach us about reptiles and in particular, snakes. She did a wonderful job teaching us all about reptile biology and diversity. It was an awesome presentation. How many of you sorta like snakes now that you got to interact with the Boa and Corn snakes?

13 November 2006

Today, college student Richard Menger, visited us from Cornell to talk about fish gills, his research underwater, and how SCUBA diving works. Here, BRYAN, MACK, SCOTT, and DANIELLE pose for a quick picture.

09 November 2006

Today we talked about the controversy surrounding drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Here are a couple resources in case you would like to write a letter to our new representative.

For Drilling:

Against Drilling:


Learn more about the Gwich 'in tribe.

If you want to write you letter to our new representative, start it out like this:
Dear Mr. Arcuri,

...and sign it with just your name. Do not include your address or phone number as I will make it clear that it is being sent from the school.

Remember, you guys have a lot of power that you don't even realize you have but it is important to include both sides of this issue. The more educated you sound on this issue, the more seriously he will take you. Please hand these in by the end of next week so I can send them to him. If you would, instead, like to send it to a newspaper, by yourself, check out the side bar of my high school science club blog.

04 November 2006

The Best Band In The World.

Sigur rós performing "Olsen Olsen" live in Reykjavík, Iceland November 2005. Complete concert found here.

01 November 2006

Great job with the research articles guys! I was particularily impressed with some students' abilities to write as if they were actually presenting a scientific news story...which was the point anyway. The following were my favorites (not necessarily the highest grades). MIKAELA B., KAITLYN H., TYLER B., SIERRA E., MACK R., KEEGAN D., STEPHANIE B., NICOLE W., JAI A., STEVEN S., COURTNEY W., and ALEN Q. If you have not handed yours in yet you need to do so as soon as possible. I want to send these to the judges...not to mention the end of the marking period is a week from Friday. Bookmark the website.

31 October 2006

Today we got a closer look at some pond water from a local bog. Here DANA and CHRIS are in search of some Spirogyra. For the next couple weeks we will be doing some pretty cool microscope labs to look at the vast abundance of unicellular life around us.

28 October 2006

Saturday the Modified XC team came in 3rd overall at the (very muddy) IAC championship meet. Leading the way were SHYANNE W., ERICA S., ASHLEY M., HALLE S., and DANIELLE S. We had an awesome season and I hope to see each of you next year...when we come in 1st! Remember guys, I need everyone to hand in their washed warmups, uniform, and white T-shirt as soon as possible.

27 October 2006

Today we had our microscope parts and safety quiz. Now that we got that out of the way we can focus on doing cool labs next week with pond water to see many of the cool protists we never get to see. REMEMBER: Your research papers are due Monday. Thanks to all that got them in early. I know we will have some winners. For more information on the contest see the Ithaca Sciencenter posting below.
Last night the modified girls soccer team suffered a tough loss to Ithaca even though I saw some great performances from the whole team.

26 October 2006

25 October 2006

Today was the first 7th grade Tri-sci meeting of the year and about 35 girls showed up, which I thought was awesome. I hope everyone had fun and sticks with it. Our three main topics this year are forensic science, engineering, and marine biology. Make sure you get your permission slips tomorrow if you want to go on the first field trip to the Corning museum of glass. Only the first 40 7th and 8th graders that turn it in can go.

Today in class we watched 2 short videos that hopefully made everyone think for a moment. It's easy to take things for granted in our "culture of excess" but also to think that our lives sometimes stink, without looking at the whole picture. For me, personally, these two videos left a huge impact. They can be viewed here and here.

24 October 2006

Parasite - an organism that benefits at the expense of another. Ex. a human tapeworm

Today we spent the day in the library media center researching our topics for the Ithaca Sciencenter's "Science Minutes" competition. I saw a lot of cool topics that students have been researching ranging from "Why is fishing better near power plants?" to "Why do we dream?". Here, TASIA, NICOLE, JORDAN, and MARIE got right to work on theirs. Remember that these are due Monday and you must include your name, school address, grade, teacher, and title somewhere on your typed paper. If you need a pass for study hall or rec. make sure you see me.

21 October 2006

Several Cross Country clowns celebrate after an impressive 4th place overall finish at Saturday's Marathon Invitational in the small-schools division. Results can be found here. Great Job everyone. Next Saturday is our championship meet at Marathon. Girls run at 11:15 and boys at 11:40. Come support us!

19 October 2006

Looks like everyone did pretty well on their Taxonomy quizzes today. Perfect scores were achieved by KYLER G., JASON H., KYLE J., JORDAN T., and MARIE R. Way to go! There were also a few other standouts as RILEY S., KEEGAN B., CHRIS G., SHYANNE W., and JESSE S. performed very well. I was also glad to see that so many of you decided to turn in the "creature" dichotomous key extra credit. Last year I only had about 3 students do so. REMEMBER, you can hand those in up until the last day of the marking period.

Today after our taxonomy quiz we discussed a contest we are entering through the Ithaca science center. All students will receive a free family pass and each of the 15 area finalists will receive a $15 gift certificate for the gift shop. We will be in the library Tuesday to research a life science topic of our choice to write up for a 60 second radio broadcast. More details and past winners can be found here.Rules are as follows:

* The typed report is due 30 October 2006.
* Make the message 60 seconds long (around 150 words).
* Include your name, title of script, home or school address, grade, teacher, and school name.
* You can send in as many scripts as you like.
* Submissions become the property of the Sciencenter.
* Winning scripts will be posted on the Sciencenter web site. Only the first name, grade, and school district of winners will be posted.

17 October 2006

Tonight the modified XC team participated in a very cold and rainy Whitney Point Invitational (at least we got out of school early). The girls team did great, finishing 8th out of 25 teams. Way to go girls. Saturday we have our last invitational of the year in Marathon. The following Saturday we have the IAC championships in Marathon and have a chance of winning our division if everyone does what they're capable of.
SHANIA and SIERRA forge their way up the big hill.

13 October 2006

WANT SOME EXTRA CREDIT? Well here is your task: Read the following excerpt by Peter Matthiessen. After you do, I want you to research this issue a bit further using the internet. I would like to know what the author is talking about, why this is such a big issue, the PROS of drilling for oil in this region, as well as the CONS. Your writeup should reflect topics in Life Science such as environmental ethics, wildlife conservaton, habitat, and what is best for your children. A good writeup of no less than 100 words will yield you at least 10 extra credit points. I want to hear opinions from the heart. I want students to show me that they care about more than just basketball, silly rumors, and stupid TV shows. Lets start with this...

"Wild northern Alaska is one of the last places on earth where a human being can kneel down and drink from a wild stream without being measurably more poisoned or polluted than before; its heart and essence is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in the remote northeast corner of the state, the earth's last sanctuary of the great Ice Age fauna that includes all three North American bears, gray wolves and wolverines, musk ox, moose, and, in the summer, the Porcupine River herd of caribou, 120,000 strong. Everywhere fly sandhill cranes and seabirds, myriad waterfowl and shorebirds, eagles, hawks, owls, shrikes and larks and longspurs, as well as a sprinkling of far-flung birds that migrate to the Arctic slope to breed and nest from every continent on earth. Yet we Americans, its caretakers, are still debating whether or not to destroy this precious place by turning it over to the oil industry for development."

The rest of the article can be found here. Please submit your response to me before the end of the marking period.
Last night the modified football team put a hurtin' down on Thomas Edison over at Ross Field. The boys won 32-12 with great performances from several members. It was great to see many present and former students from last year being successful on the field. Way to go!