29 March 2010

Since we're discussing the skeletal system in class, lets talk about the effects of drinking soda. Personally, I think it is horrible...and that's one thing I would change about our school. 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, 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, 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. Bottom line: stay away from soda and any other juice containing high fructose corn syrup.

25 March 2010

View the video above and check the following links for more information on the circulatory system. After you are finished, fill in the questions below. You may want to open a couple different tabs in your web browser.

Link 1 - Heart Contraction and Blood Flow
Link 2 - The Interior of the Heart
Link 3 - Diseases and Disorders

22 March 2010

I told you guys! Tonight was the first big warm spring rain, which
subsequentially triggered the first major salamander migration to area
ponds and wetlands. This beautiful yellow-spotted salamander showed up
on my back porch tonight. He was pretty lethargic but once he warmed
up in my hand, I sent it on it's way. Did anyone else witness any salamanders tonight?

17 March 2010

My high school class just finished up their homemade solar cookers.
These devices are becoming more popular in 3rd world countries as a
way to boil water without having to start a fire. We had a little
competition to see who could get their water the hottest. Dan N won
with a temp of 122 degrees F.

16 March 2010

This spring I am attempting to make maple syrup from a sugar maple tree. I don't know much about it but I have a big maple tree in my backyard. Mrs. Shurtleff does it and she has promised to teach me. Trees spend the entire spring and summer making sugars through photosynthesis in the chloroplasts of their leaves. In the winter, the tree stores all of that sugar in the roots. In early spring, the Xylem tissue transports the sugar water (sap) BACK to the apical meristem of the branch tips to stimulate the buds and create the new year's growth. Pretty cool! People use the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) because it has the highest concentration of sugars, However, most maple species work.

If you drill a hole about an inch into the bark, it creates a leak because there is a good amount of pressure behind the bark. The sap goes to the area of least resistance, which means it drains out into my hose and into my glass carboy. When I fill it up, Mrs. Shurtleff and her husband will show me how to boil off the water so I'm left with a syrup that has a high concentration of sugar. So... stayed tuned for part two of this crazy experiment.

11 March 2010

Thursday after school, members of the high school environmental science club traveled to the Finger Lakes Fresh hydroponic greenhouse in Ithaca to learn more about this amazing company run by Challenge Industries. This is a great local company that uses a workforce of employees with disabilities. Since we will be growing lettuce for the cafeteria in our new greenhouse this spring, we were out to learn as much as we could.
Marty Gold gave us a tour and explained the basics of hydroponics (growing vegetables in a water solution) and showed us their variety of leafy vegetables.
The first stage involves planting lettuce seeds in "rockwool" substrate.
After the seeds germinate and grow they are then cut in the rockwool and divided up and put into a foam board that floats on the water.
At the 2 week stage, the carpet of lettuce greens is looking pretty lush.
The roots soak up water and nitrogen from the water below.
After about a month in ideal growing conditions, the hydroponic greens have grown twice as fast as if grown outside and are ready to be shipped to Wegmans, Price Chopper, Tops, Greenstar, and Ludgate Farms. A couple restaurants, like Moosewood, also eagerly purchase the fresh, nutritious lettuce, basil, and pocchoi.
We were even sent home with a box full of samples. Thank you so much Marty and Finger Lakes Fresh! Be sure to vote with your dollar and support this great company next time you go shopping.

10 March 2010

Today, Bill Foster (along with Mr. Giroux) came in to teach us a little about what trout eat in the wild and what ours will once we let them loose into Owasco Inlet. Above, 10th grader Aaron McNeil helps Brittany put the finishing touches on her caddisfly larvae. Aaron is a very skilled tyer, as you can see from his collection above, and helps teach a fly tying class at the Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Ext. in Ithaca that Trout Unlimited puts on each winter.

Mr. Giroux showed off his skills as well. With retirement on the horizon, he should have plenty of time to devote to this great hobby.
Finally, we tried "fishing" with some of the hand-tied flies in our trout tank...without the hooks of course. They seemed to like them!

09 March 2010

Here is a great new book aimed for students in grades 5-8 about what it's like to be a scientist and doing field research. The Frog Scientist by Pamela Turner has gotten good reviews and might be worth checking out. Click here to view it on Amazon.

03 March 2010

Here are a couple photos from Tuesday's earthworm dissection. We have a quiz Friday on invertebrates and next week we'll start the vertebrates.

01 March 2010

Today we observed several invertebrates in our last microscope lab of
the year. We saw Rotifers, Vinegar Eels, Hydras, and Planarias.
Tomorrow is the Earthworm lab and Friday we have a quiz on