One more link, the one below discusses an honors level class that I taught a few years ago before I started posting about each class, but it has an outline of topics and labs that we covered.
For the lab, I collected pillbugs (and sowbugs) from my yard, which are actually crustaceans, not bugs. Students were to design experiments for the pillbugs and observe their behavior. Students tested whether the pillbugs preferred dark or light, wet or dry habitat, hot or cold, etc. The one experiment that had very clear results was the hot vs cold. Students warmed up water in the microwave and poured it into a ziplock bag and placed it in a foil pan next to a ziplock bag full of ice water. We placed a petri dish so half of it was on the cold bag and half was on the hot bag. All 4 sowbugs went directly to the cold side and everytime they wandered over the border into the warm side they quickly reversed course and returned to the cold side.
The bright spot in the photo is just a reflection of the overhead lights.
Pillbugs and sowbugs are easy critters to round up for these experiments and easy to handle (they don’t bite). The only problem we had was they kept trying to escape or hide under the experiment which is why the hot/cold experiment was done in a closed petri dish.
We ended class by watching the first half of a video, “Bird Brains”, on Curiosity Stream, which appears to be a slightly different version of an episode of NOVA. It showed how some birds can solve puzzles, use tools and learn from each other.
That’s it for the high school Biology class. Next year we’l be doing the Big History Project, basically a semester of Astronomy and then a semester of Earth Science. I taught Big History before when the kids were younger but will be teaching both a middle school and a high school version of it next year.
This class was spent dissecting a frog and a fetal pig. I watched some videos beforehand so I would have some idea of what we’re looking at and these can be used instead of real dissection if you don’t want to do the real thing, or you can make use of Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy’s wonderful 3D paper dissection models.
If you’re careful when cutting open the specimen you might be able to inflate the lungs with a medicine dropper or bulb syringe. One of the students got the frogs lungs to inflate (video below), but when we tried it with the pig we ended up inflating the stomach, which was kind of interesting because we able to push the air through the small intestine and follow it through the digestive track at least a little ways.
Both specimens were double injected, though the pig wasn’t done well, when the student opened it up, the entire chest cavity was filled with blue latex – which was easily removed but gave us a bit of start. The injection on the frog let use see the capillaries on its skin and both arteries and veins that would deliver and remove blood from the stomach, intestines and other organs.
Both specimens were female. The frog’s body cavity was packed with ovaries and on the pig, we were able to locate the ovaries under the intestines.
At the end of class, one of the students dissected a giant gummy bear to share with the class in honor of his birthday.
This week the high school students dissected two dogfish sharks. These are pretty cool to dissect. They are fairly large, over 50 cm long from head to tail. You can see in the photo, I placed 3 dissection mats on an old cookie sheet that I use for science experiments.I found a nice handout online that had lots of questions, some of which we had to look up on the internet – new vocabulary words, finding certain organs and details on the shark and even taking measurements.
One of the first things students do is feel the shark skin. Its nice and smooth if you ‘pet’ it from head to tail, but if you rub your hand in the other direction is feels very rough. This is because the skin is covered with little scales. We took a sample of the skin and put it under the microscope (40x), you can see the sharp scales below.
I watched the following videos, posted by South Dakota Public Broadcasting, before class so I would have some idea what we were looking at.
There’s a link below the videos on youtube to other dissection videos and lesson plans/checklists for dissection. Unfortunately the dogfish shark resources have been uploaded yet but they should be up by the end of the summer (2019). While watching the videos I saw they found fish skulls in the stomach so I made sure to have my students open up the stomach and they found brine shrimp in one of them! We took the head of one of them and put it under the microscope to look at brine shrimp’s compound eye.
The teeth are also very interesting to look at. I had two sharks from two different companies and I have to say the dissection specimens from Carolina.com are always the best.
We started class discussing different types of arthropods (which means jointed foot), such as arachnids, insects, crustaceans and trilobites to name a few. I had detailed instructions for the high school students for dissecting grasshoppers and a crayfish, while I had kind of let the middle school students wing it and explore on their own. I posted some videos on the middle school post that are good to watch before dissecting your own specimen. If I hadn’t watched the video for the crayfish, I never would have known to challenge my students to find the gastril mill – teeth like ridges inside the stomach of the crayfish! We found them and put them under the microscope – very cool!
This week I had students read Ch 24, Arthropods in Holt Biology or finish Ch 23 in Biology: Life on Earth. For videos, I sent them a list of True Facts About… by zefrank1, including the ones on Sea pigs, mantis shrimp, leaf katydid, dung beetle, bolas spider and carnivorous dragonflies. There is some adult language in these videos but they are very entertaining and educational.