Tuesday, April 24, 2012


We are now studying Kingdom Protista, a large group of organisms ranging from single celled amoeba to giant kelp. The kingdom is vast and contains an extremely wide array of types of life. There are organisms that are animal-like, others that are plant-like, others that are similar to fungi, and even some that contain characteristics of all three. I find many of the organisms in Kingdom Protista fascinating, but my favorite is the slime mold.

Watch the video about the researchers and answer the following questions:

  • How would you characterize or classify slime mold (and why)?
  • Why might researching slime mold be a lucrative endeavor (why might it make someone a lot of money)?
  • How do they conduct their research?

Bonus Video!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nitrogen Fixation!

As we begin talking about the kingdoms of life on our planet, we will start by learning about the smallest forms of life, known as microbes. Microbes are tiny, tiny forms of life that are essential to the growth and development of all other aspects of life. While there is a tendency to be repulsed by the thought that our planet is actually ruled by these microscopic critters, it is actually important that we recognize the tremendous value they serve us.


Watch the video below and write 5-10 sentences about the importance of the microbe world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Invasive Species!

We have been studying the natural states of the world biomes and spent a little bit of time thinking about the threats to them. Mostly, threats involve human involvement, like when people chop down huge swaths of rain forest or set fires accidentally in dry conditions. Humans are paving large sections of natural ecosystems and preventing migratory patterns and disrupting access organisms need to food and water.

Another problem, which is also usually caused by human involvement, is the spreading of invasive species. An invasive species is a plant or animal that does not belong in an ecosystem and which ends up dominating. Sometimes this is done by accident, as when seeds get dispersed through shipping containers. Other times it is done purposefully, as when someone thinks that bringing in an animal in one area will help control a pest problem.

Check out this one:

or this one...


Go to the following website: Invasive.org

Search through the website and find 7-10 interesting facts about invasive species. Write the facts in your own words. [I recommend clicking on the tab called "Invasive 101"]

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's so funny!?!

Yesterday I assigned the class a challenging question to reflect upon. Why do we laugh? What purpose does humor serve us and why did we evolve to have it? I thought we had some great responses to that question, but also know that some people really struggled to think of the ways that it might benefit people. Is it possible that it serves absolutely no purpose? Perhaps it is what it is and we shouldn't over-analyze it. Possibly.

Here is an article written on the subject for those of you who are curious. Why Do We Laugh?
Read this and comment on it for extra credit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Indicator Species!

Some animals can act as an early warning system to environmental scientists that there is a problem brewing in an ecosystem. For example, back in the 1800s, coal miners used to take caged canaries into the mines with them. The birds would sing and chirp often. However, if the bird stopped singing it was an early indication that there might be poisonous gases in the mine that would be harmful to the miners. This system would allow the miners to evacuate the mine before the poisonous gases killed the miners. Environmental scientists can look out for certain animals in an ecosystem which will give them an indication as to the health of that region. Birds and butterflies are excellent indicator species because they can be affected quickly by environmental changes.


Go to the following website: Marietta College: Biome Study

On the map, click on one of the biomes.

Read about the indicator species (plants and animals) of that region.

Write a few sentences about the indicator species of that region.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


As we look at all of the different biomes and the amazing adaptations that animals have acquired in order to survive in the most challenging of environments, we need to pause every now and then and appreciate the slimiest of those organisms.

Watch the video about the Lungfish. Write a comment (1-2 sentences) about the video. Then describe a creature in the biome that you are studying that also has an amazing adaptation.

Monday, January 30, 2012


As we pursue our understanding of biomes, we will work to break down the differences between them. The first one that we are studying, the rainforest, is quite possibly the most complex. One of the most complex ecosystems in the world, rainforests are also one of the most endangered. Humans are cutting down huge sections of this vibrant ecosystem at an alarming rate. Given that new species are being discovered all the time, it is disheartening to think about the plants and animals that will disappear without our even knowing about it.


Go to the following website: ScienceDaily

Pick an article to read about the rainforest.

Read the article and write a paragraph synopsis of the article.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Biomes are large parts of our planet that are categorized by similar climactic conditions that lead to specific types of plants and animals. The climate drives the plants and the plants drive the animals. Living organisms adapted to survive in every of type of biome in the world. From the tundra, to the desert, to the rainforest, life finds amazing ways to thrive.


Go to the following site: National Geographic Habitats

Scroll down to "Habitats Topics."

Pick one of the habitats listed on the page and click on it.

Read the article.

Write down 5-10 adaptations referenced in the article.