19 December 2008

Grotonsciencegeek is evolving! For the new year comes a new look. I had to update the template of the blog due to some changes that Blogger made about a year ago. Stay tuned for a new look and new features. Please be sure to let me know if you're having trouble locating something.

Have a great Holiday season with family and friends!

18 December 2008


Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo. Here is a good video I found regarding the current climate crisis.

15 December 2008

Hi guys. I'm out until Wed. with jury duty...which is actually pretty interesting. Just a reminder that Thursday the egg diffusion labs are due and we will also have a test on cell processes. Thursday is also the Sisterhood of Science meeting at lunch. See you Wednesday.

14 December 2008

Sunday morning I spent birdwatching with local birders, Jim Barry and Ernie Spanhauer for the annual Christmas Bird Count. We saw 31 different species in 5 hours. Highlights included a Northern Shrike, a flock of Snow Buntings, several White-Winged Crossbills, and an American Kestrel.

11 December 2008

Today we saw firsthand how saltwater affects cells. After we added salt to our elodea leaf the high concentration of water within the cell membranes quickly rushed out of the cell, leaving a shrunken membrane within the cell wall skeleton. The technical word for this is osmosis. This also explains why you get thirsty after eating something salty and why Magellan's crew couldn't drink sea water during their voyage (right Mr. Filzen's students??)

10 December 2008

Here's a quick update on our trout. Here are 2 pictures at 6 weeks of development. All yolk sacs have pretty much been absorbed into the fish and most are now actively feeding on fish food from the top. The above picture is of our lone deformity. We had 5 fish die since the beginning but this one had a mutation where (from what we can decipher) the yolk sac was enclosed within the fishes belly. This skin did not recede as the yolk sac did, leaving this bubble. The bottom represents a typical healthy Brown Trout.

Day 2 of our egg diffusion lab. The vinegar has completely eaten away the egg's shell and we are now left with a membrane concealing the yolk and white. Tomorrow we will see what happens after 24 hrs in distilled water.

09 December 2008

Today, Cornell Junior, Inga Conti-Jerpe stopped by to share her expertise on turtles. She even brought in her pet Red-eared Slider. Thanks Inga for giving us your time.



08 December 2008


Today's bird watchers made an excellent observation. In addition to six different species of birds we witnessed a yellow-bellied sapsucker feasting on our suet block for nearly 10 minutes. According to the map, it is very rare to have them in this area at this time of year. This was also a first for Mr. DeVoe. He has never seen them at the school feeder nor his home feeder. All data from our feeder is submitted to Cornell at www.ebird.com.

02 December 2008


Some really good 3D cell projects have been handed in this week and many high grades were earned. I hope this helped everyone realize that cells come in a variety of shapes depending on what the cell is specialized to do. My favorite cell was probably ERIN I.'s. Her design was truly original and she did a nice job on the organelle sheet as well. My sub-par photography skills fail to capture it in it's true elegance. Good luck everyone on tomorrow's test.
Please study for tomorrow's cell test. Here is the micrograph we took yesterday of the elodea plant cell. I labeled the major visible parts. Here are the important concepts to study:
1. The organelles and functions
2. The 3 parts of the cell theory
3. The organelles found only in plant cells
4. Be able to label a plant cell

Also, cell projects were due today and they lose 5 points every day they are late. Please get yours in ASAP!

26 November 2008

I was hoping to have a class discussion on Thanksgiving and what it means to everyone but, of course, I have been out of school for an educational technology conference. What has come to bother me over the past several years are individuals that take too many things for granted...people that complain of being bored when there is so much beauty in the world, accomplishments to be made, and knowledge to attain. I applaud this year's 7th grade class. Not once have I heard "I hate this school" or "Groton is poor". This is a sign that the students appreciate our school and respect their surroundings. The students are polite and I would love to see more of these positive aspects. I have compiled a short list of 20 things that I try not to take for granted...all things that I feel truly lucky for.

My health
Working with the best teachers in the area
Supportive parents
Birds
Books
Candlelight
Diversity in human beings
A warm night and a sky full of stars
Groton and the surrounding area
Nature and all that lives as a part of it
Music
A supportive principal
People that care
People that are interesting
Mountains
My five senses
Running water
Optimism
Heat/Electricity
Time

If you find time, please comment to give your list. If you're too embarrassed, just post as anonymous or make a pen name (and tell me later). I'll give a couple extra credit points for participating (and checking the blog over break). Have a great Thanksgiving.

-Mr. DeVoe

21 November 2008

KELLY B.'s cheek cells are on the internet! Here is a fine specimen from our animal cell lab that we completed today. Onion cells vs. Cheek cells clearly shows the vast difference between plant and animal cells. We stained both with iodine to bring out some of the organelles.

19 November 2008

Today we're going to extend our study of cells by utilizing the laptop cart and internet. In your groups please run through the following exercises.

1. Click here. Select either the plant or animal cell. Go through each organelle and read the descriptions with your partner.

2. Check out this site. Read through the descriptions of each organelle and click the interactive buttons. Click the back button after each one and do the others.

3. Fill out this survey when you are completed with the above websites.

UPDATE: Check out the entries here.
I particularly liked Cameron and Paige's entry: "We learned that lysosomes look like cocoa puffs, everything looks cooler close up and the ribosomes look like popcorn. Not for real. We really learned that the golgi packages and distributes protiens to the other cell organaelles (awesomely). We also learned cytoplasm is the liquid inside the cell."

video
Here is some video from today's research.

18 November 2008


Today was the 8th grade Sisterhood of Science meeting. They did a number of water quality tests including pH, hardness, Nitrites, and Nitrates. Many of these tests we have been doing in class to make sure our trout aquarium is healthy. The 7th grade meets next Tuesday during lunch.
Today Oliver Schaufelberger did a wonderful presentation for us on bird migrations. If you ever get a chance you should check out Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in the springtime to see these amazing migrations. This talk was a great way to kick off Project Feederwatch which we will start after Thanksgiving break.

17 November 2008

Today Sarah Chang, a junior from Cornell, stopped by to do a presentation on endangered species. She did a great job explaining the causes for many of these species' declines including illegal hunting, habitat destruction, and pollution. Something I enjoyed learning more about was the Karner Blue Butterfly. These used to be common in this area but are now limited to a few areas in the Albany area. She also spoke of the great success story that is the Bald Eagle. I was glad to hear that many students have been to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge near Auburn and some have even seen Eagles there.



Saturday the Sisterhood of Science traveled to Taughannock Falls State Park for a guided tour of the local geology of that area. Despite the rain it was still a good time. Special thanks to the Museum of the Earth for leading the tour. The Sisterhood of Science is a special program for Groton 7th and 8th grade girls. It is run by the Cornell Nanobiotechnology Center.

14 November 2008

Today we looked at onion cells under high and low power. We learned that the cells can vary from 200 to around 1000 microns long. Our low power field of view held about 100 cells. Can you imagine how many cells must be on the average large pizza with onions?? Those rings are much thicker too. We were dealing with a film that was only one cell layer thick. Remember these labs are due Monday. Please do a nice job answering the questions.

12 November 2008

Cell Organelles
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.
Here is the Powerpoint from today. The format didn't translate properly but all content should be there.

06 November 2008


Today we were fortunate enough to have Cornell student, David Zielnicki in to share his knowledge of invasive plants and animals. You guys impressed me with what you already knew. I realized part-way through the day that last year's trip to Lime Hollow probably helped you collect that previous knowledge. I hope everyone enjoyed today's class. Being educated and aware of this problem will help limit the spread in the future. We have more speakers coming this month to talk about bird migrations, turtles, and endangered species.

05 November 2008


Here are some images taken today of our brown trout. The top shows the alevin stage of development, which all of our trout are currently in. You can see the yolk sac, which is the the source of 100% of the fish's food supply right now for the next couple weeks. The bottom photo shows red blood cells traveling through capillaries, delivering oxygen and nutrients to all of the body cells.

31 October 2008





What a busy day today in class. First it was Halloween, so I dressed up as Ms. Bassette and Koda made an appearance. We got our brown trout eggs...about 70 of them. They are all in the Alevin stage of development. Lastly we got good looks at rotifers under the microscopes. This micrograph was taken under low power (100x) on our new Jenco microscopes with a Moticam 1000 It was a pretty successful day. Remember we have a microscope test Monday. See the previous post for good review games.

29 October 2008



This is the 400th post on Grotonsciencegeek. Thanks to everyone that has viewed and left comment over the past 3 years. Today we spent in the lab looking at pond water under the microscopes. TYLER and BEN get a good look through one of our brand new microscopes that Groton received late last year through a grant. The second picture shows a dragonfly nymph that was found by SHYASIA D.
Today we also did the final preparations for our trout tank. We will be receiving about 100 Brown Trout eggs on Friday to raise and release into the Owasco lake watershed. Here, REID B. and KELLY B. do a pH test to make sure the trout have a safe transition. Ongoing coverage from ours and other schools can be found here.

27 October 2008


We've been working with microscopes in class and CALI G. brought a really good website to my attention. You may want to check out these games as you begin to study for next week's microscope test.

Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
Game 4

22 October 2008

This week we started our microscope unit. Here, McKayla and Peyton are in the middle of the "e" lab where they learned that the microscope produces images that are upside down and backwards from the original. Remember we have a quiz on Friday and many cool microscope labs coming up in the next couple weeks.

20 October 2008


This is a reminder that Saturday is Insectapalooza 2008 at Cornell University. This is a great way to learn more about insects and see an amazing diversity of the world's most numerous animal. If you happen to go make sure you bring back proof that you went so I can give you extra credit. Hopefully I'll see some of you there.

A campus map is available here.

15 October 2008



Soon to come to 7th grade science... brown trout! Groton is one of 6 local schools that will be participating in the Trout Unlimited "Trout in the Classroom" project. We will raise roughly 120 brown trout from eggs in a tank and release them into Owasco Inlet in the spring. All of the equipment and tank were provided through a multi-thousand dollar grant awarded by the Triad Foundation. Groton has received nearly $1000 in equipment for this program, which will culminate with a spring field trip to Cayuga Lake on the Floating Classroom. Mr. Giroux, Mr. Rhoads, and Bill Foster (of the Floating Classroom) will be working very closely with us on this project. We'll be setting up the tank tonight and the eggs will be arriving by the end of this month!

09 October 2008

Another day of classification. Today we classified creatures and created dichotomous keys for several common critters.

08 October 2008

Wow! Look at the size of the winter squash that 9th period picked from the garden. Not only did we harvest about 12 of these guys from the school garden but we also picked 2 big bags of fresh carrots for the cafeteria.

07 October 2008


Today we classified Teddy Grahams by certain characteristics much like how scientists classify living things into categories. Above, SARAH, CHRIS, and SHYASIA show off their Teddys.

03 October 2008


We've been discussing the classification of living things in class and to start out this chapter we did a short activity on classifying nuts and bolts into groups based of similar and different characteristics. Above, JOSH, TRISTIN, and ZACH work on their assortment.

02 October 2008

Here is something I wanted to throw out to those of you that are creative and innovative. Google, the company that runs the world, is offering millions of dollars to people that have good ideas. They want to fund your good idea. There aren't many rules except that your idea has to improve the lives of many people. CNN has a story about this. If you have an idea you can submit it to Google. Feel free to come in at Rec. if you want to discuss your idea and maybe I can help you.

01 October 2008

Groton Central School has been named the Go Green Initiative School of the Week. Treehugger also had a small write-up about this. Thank you to everyone that recycles their papers and composts during lunch and breakfast. Together we're making Groton one of the "greenest" schools in the state! Be sure to check out the excellent write-up that Zoe Francis from Go Green did through the first link above.

29 September 2008


Today we picked some of the carrots and probably the last picking of summer squash and string beans for the year. Hopefully everyone is selecting the fresh produce at lunch if you buy. Be on the lookout for more carrots this week and next.