Students used a computer simulation to change the amino acids in a short protein to demonstrate how one little change can make a big difference in the behavior of a protein.
We are now well into Unit 3: Sickle Cell Disease. This week we are taking a closer look at DNA. In Unit 1 students learned about the structure of DNA and how the nucleotide order makes us unique. Now we are investigating the role of those nucleotides in Sickle Cell Disease. Today students worked with a DNA "sentence" to transcribe mRNA in order to translate a Protein "sentence." This gave everyone an opportunity to practice transcription and translation with their hands. After we understood the process, we used our same sentences to show point mutations and frame shift mutations. Next, we applied our understanding of protein synthesis to the actual mutation found in those with Sickle Cell Disease. Starting tomorrow we will use simulation software to delve deeper into Sickle Cell Disease and the mutation that causes the problem.
This week we started Unit 3 - Sickle Cell Disease. Students had a chance to add to Anna's Autopsy report by viewing her blood under a microscope and completing a hematocrit test. I was excited for the hematocrit test because this was our first opportunity to use our brand new mini centrifuge. We are finding out that Anna was definitely one sick lady!
This is the first prepared, formal presentation for my students. This year we completed activities on public speaking, presentations and visual development prior to giving the presentations and I can say that it made a huge difference in the quality! Each student group had the task of coming up with an innovation that would make the life of a diabetic easier. Some projects focused on improving existing insulin pumps while others embraced technology by suggesting great new apps for Smart Phones. One group even presented an idea that involved incorporating insulin into the food being digested. Overall, I was excited to see their enthusiasm and creativity
My students are awesome! I was out with a sick kid, so I left my students with a task and a couple of "blank" bodies. They were to research various diabetes complications and creatively represent each complication on their class body. I was very happy the results.
Throughout this inquiry project, students made a connection between high, normal and low blood glucose levels and what is happening on a cellular level in a person's body. We used three diabetic emergency scenarios and linked them to the behavior of three different serums in class. Each of the serums represented high, low and normal blood glucose and we used dialysis tubing to represent the cells. Some of the "cells" gained mass while others lost mass. This allowed students to make a connection between the level of glucose in the blood and the symptoms diabetics experience.
In our final activity for our lesson, the students performed a calorimetry lab. Each group selected two foods to test by lighting the food on fire and measuring the temperature change of the water in a can above the burning food. We had a lot of success (fire) with Oreos and Fritos. Students also tested marshmallows, Lucky Charms, Ritz Crackers, Peanuts and Vanilla Wafers. I think some students were disgusted by the substances dripping from the burning Oreos. It certainly didn't look like something you would want in your body! Our lesson on food wraps up Monday with a quick quiz. The quiz will include information about testing food for macromolecules, food labels, biochemistry of food and energy content in food. Our next lesson will focus on what it is like to live with diabetes. I am excited to have one of my former students coming in to share his story with the class.
We are continuing our study of the chemistry of food in an effort to better understand how the body gets energy. Students were introduced to macromolecules by using molecular puzzle kits. I love these kits! Bond forming and bond breaking through dehydration synthesis and hydrolysis become so concrete with these puzzles.