BLOG: Biology & Earth Systems (BES)

& Earth Systems


aka...What Happened In BES Today 


Sept 21
We started an experiment today in order to answer the question: What is the dirtiest* place on campus?  Students came up with list of locations, frequented by the student population, then fanned out, collecting samples (moistened Q-tips).  They then inoculated agar plates which, after 96 hrs @ 37 degrees C, will produce *bacterial colonies which will provide quantitative data to substantiate or contradict their various hypotheses. 


While not directly tied to chapter 13 Major Concepts, this lab will, nevertheless, accomplish several important objectives;

  • it is a template for (how to write future) lab reports
  • it delineates "good" science (valid & reliable conclusions)
  • the data adds to a 30-plus-year longitudinal study on the effectiveness of antibiotics
  • it will provide all (700) Tahoma freshmen with critical lab material needed for a chapter 6 investigation next month: laboratory EVIDENCE of EVOLUTION 

We briefly reviewed our tectonic foldables and students discovered where to look in order to get a list of the items required for notebook checks (almost always done after a chapter test). 

Today's class wrapped up with a team exercise in inference. Given a "mystery cylinder", each team poked and prodded their device, collecting evidence, to INFER the internal workings of the cylinder (how do geologists KNOW the composition of the geosphere without ever having any direct evidence beneath the lithosphere??).

If absent, there's nothing to "make up"...other than writing a few things in your notebook (ask an elbow partner). 

Sept 19
Today's LT was to explain the existence of the Ring of Fire as students took notes, watched a video, and filled out a foldable, learning about systems and spheres (Earth is a closed system composed of several major spheres).  Focusing on the lithosphere, we wrapped by contrasting the 3 types of plate boundaries. If absent, get help from a friend when you return.

Sept 17
Went immediately walked outside* to ponder: what effect would an eruption of Mt Rainier have on the immediate vicinity?  Additional questions posed: What is a lahar? Is The Mountain active? How old is it? In what ways would an eruption impact...the air? ...the ground? ...the lakes/rivers?  ..the flora & fauna? While gazing at the natural environment, instead of the future we pondered the (prehistoric) past.  What might Maple Valley (PNW) have looked like 100 million years ago?  ...and WHY?

*since we tripped through a field, it was a "Field Trip"!

We returned to class and recorded, in journals, the answers to many of these questions.  We watched a video on the Osceola Mud Flow 5600 yrs ago. We wrapped up by popcorn reading the intro to CH 13: Time for a Change.

Mesozoic Tahomies!?
If absent, copy notes from a friend...

Sept 13
"The best laid plans..." oh well.  I meant to accomplish much more today but as it turned out, some (tech) bugs needed to be worked out instead.  "Alls well that ends well?"

Students took a pre-assessment of graphing and scientific writing today.  Once finished, they logged into Skyward to take a quiz regarding Lab Safety Rules.  Sounds simple was anything but.  Took the ENTIRE class period!  But students showed tenacity, patience, and persistence until every student came away, completing the 2 tasks.  Who knows, maybe Monday we might FINALLY get an opportunity to do some...oh, I don't know...ACTUAL SCIENCE!? I'm "keeping my fingers crossed" but "not counting any chickens until they hatch."  Must be "Throwback Thursday" since I appear to dropping the vernaculars like it's "raining cats and dogs."  Or maybe it's the fact that I worked a 15-hr day yesterday, what, with Open House last night, and I'm "running on empty." 

-LoomDog out...

P.S. Power Hour today was a REQUIRED meeting if you wanted to be eligible to retake tests.  About a dozen students showed up.  Not bad.


Sept 11
Discussed "what is SCIENCE?"...I shared a metaphor: science is a wrench, a tool...something we use to explore the universe. Sure, we talk about chemistry, physics, biology (etc) but science is the tool that we employ, collecting evidence, making hypotheses and testing them.

Students got out their (required) lab notebooks and recorded the (four) Major Concepts for CH 13.  Time was taken to explain expectations, the connection to tests, how the curriculum is designed (around the 5 Es). Students cracked the (class set of) textbooks open then learned that each chapter is available online.  Click on over to the LINKS page and you can access the necessary chapter (a Word doc).

Textbooks, notebooks, tests, curriculum, The Big was a busy day.  Thursday we're going outside, sort of a field trip, if you will (I mean, it will literally BE a "trip into a field" so...) to start our first unit.


Sept 7
We still needed to wrap up some items from the previous determine the Best Guesser, a "room tour", seat swap, as well as collect homework (syllabi + safety rules**...signed).  Everyone needs their comp book by Tuesday!!  Also, this Wednesday, Sept 12th, is Open House.  Maybe I'll see you there...

Practice getting on Skyward BEFORE the quiz

Students are allowed to RETAKE tests but ONLY if they "jump through some hoops." Hoop #1 is a REQUIRED visit to my class during Power Hour A on Thursday (9/13) to listen to the retake requirements and, if they agree to them, to sign up. If students have joined my REMIND group (scroll down for instructions), they will receive a text message at 10:20 AM Thursday to help them remember...

We were just starting to discuss/introduce CH 13 (our first unit) when it was time to join the whole school in our first pep assembly!!  Tahoma got a few minutes in the spotlight as


made their first Friday Night Lights focus: THS!!  Check out the video...but keep in mind, this was filmed in the wee hours of 6 AM!!!...some serious school spirit at work here...


Sept 5

We did a few "welcoming" activities, ice-breakers...what is science? That sorta thing.  Plus a pre-quiz to assess where we are.  Can't very well discover were we came from or where we're going if we don't know where we are, to begin with.

We went over policies & procedures unique to rm219.  If absent, download the doc and be prepared for the quiz.


1) Get the Course Expectations (syllabus) "signed"* and returned. 

2) Get the Lab Safety Rules signed and returned

Also, every student is REQUIRED to have a standard-issue "Comp Book" (see below).  I'd prefer it had the typical lined paper (not graph) but feel free to express yourself if the store offers a variety of cover motifs.

 *either hard copy/old school-style or scroll down/read for the "green" version



(1) If you haven't already done it, click on over to the "Documents" page (linked over in the left margin) and download/watch the power point (virtual catalog) that describes what the class is all about. Consider the power pt my "syllabus" (not the Course Expectations).
(2) Since the vast majority of folks regularly navigate their lives via their cell phone each day, I've registered with "Remind" app that allows me to text you (your parents/guardians) with reminders about due dates, upcoming tests, etc. Here's what you need to do to "sign up"...

I'll send a test message the first week of classes and after that, try to keep further texts to a minimum, STRICTLY SCHOOL-RELATED INFO (specific to SCIENCE). Anyone can "sign up"...even parents/guardians. Don't forget to include the @ symbol in your text! Any student doing this by the end of September will earn EXTRA CREDIT points! 

Your first "homework assignment" will be getting your Course Expectations signed by parent/guardian. There are 2 ways to do this. The traditional method (get a hard copy from me in class, take it home, get it signed, return it) or the "green" method. Doing it the "green" way will score you EXTRA CREDIT (yep...between joining Remind and "going green" on the course expectations, you're off to a great start!). To earn the "green" points click on over to the "Documents" link, download the COURSE EXPECTATIONS for BES, DO NOT PRINT... rather have a parent/guardian read over the (e-version of the) document and then have your PARENT/GUARDIAN EMAIL ME at the following email address;

Include, in the email, the following; 

Please put STUDENT'S NAME in the Subject line then...

"I looked over the syllabus/expectations for BES .
 ------parent name------- , parent of -------student name------- "
(this will qualify as an electronic signature)

ALSO: With regard to academics, if there's something you'd like to share, please do so...anything that might help your student be more successful this year (strengths, challenges, etc).