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ETD 16: A. Draw + Explain How the HIV Virus is different + can be "useful"? B. What is a plasmid + why do organisms have them?
October 14, 2013 at 4:32pm


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Brett Babbel
October 16, 2013 at 8:06pm

Parent Response: A. that HIV was undetected and disguised in your DNA and goes undetected until something triggers it and makes it Lytic and the because of this your body gets symptomatic and your body gets AIDs. Learned that it has RNA and protein. B. That plasmids are the reason that antibiotics don't always work to kill the bacteria and that the plasmids code for a protein that stops the antibiotics repressors. 

Student Response: I better learned that HIV disguises itself in our DNA and that plasmids are the reason why bacteria can evolve so much. Plasmids are also the reason why why we always have to find new antibiotics to kill of the protein.

Steve Paige
October 16, 2013 at 9:14pm

Sam explained to me that HIV virus is different from other viruses in the fact that it has its own enzymes. These enzymes turn its mRNA into DNA. This is unique because now the virus' genes can be hidden in the cells chromosomes. Now these genes live with the cells DNA (Sam called it a provirus) and can be reproduced without warning the cell (symptoms). This phenomenon is useful because it is how we perform feats of genetic engineering to advance biotechnology for mankind.

Sam also explained that a plasmid is extra DNA that is not normally required by the cell but can be useful in certain circumstances. Organisms have plasmids to help them survive and evolve new generations of stronger cells.

Sam Paige
October 16, 2013 at 9:27pm

I definitely had a little bit more difficult time teaching my dad this time around. However part of that was due to my dads shaky knowledge of transcription, translation and genes. As I started to talk to my dad about the HIV virus I had to spend a lot of time on the little details. I walked him step by step through the HIV cells infection of a regular cell which helped both him and me as it reinforced my own understanding of viral process. My dad was very receptive to the application of the HIV virus once we got through its uniqueness. We were able to make connections to biotechnology and advancing the human race.

Now Plasmids were much more difficult. Part of the problem was my dad accidently erased what he wrote which proved to be a hindrance. Anyhow the main thing my dad struggled with was the "why?". He understood that plasmids are extra genes or DNA (he generalized it). This was good though because it helped me realize I did not totally understand why either. In teaching him I tried using various analogies like imagine he is the bacteria and DNA is the tools in his tool box. This definitely helped because it brought us to the connection that plasmids are like a "ballpeen hammer" they aren't necessary for basic tasks but come in handy for specific situations. Then all I had to do was help my dad make the connection that since these extra genes help in specific situations, they make the cells more able to survive and make new generations of stronger cells.

All in All the HIV part was fairly easy to get across, and the Plasmids question was extremely difficult. However, by teaching my dad I became more sure of my knowledge on viruses like HIV and I gained a much BETTER understanding of plasmids than I had before.

Kayla Harbold
October 29, 2013 at 8:17pm

STUDENT RESPONSE: I was just recently watching a show with my mom about antibiotic resistant bacteria and it showed a picture of a plasmid. I was very excited that I knew exactly what it was. I told my mom do you know what that is and she said no. And this reminded me of the Bio blog. So I began to explain to her that what was on the screen is a plasmid, which means the non-chromosomal DNA and just auxiliary DNA. I also told her bacteria can copy themselves (like cloning themselves) including their plasmids but can also exchange DNA with other bacteria through the pili (a small tube that forms between two bacteria). The only catch is that the only DNA that can fit through the pili is the small circular DNA. I told her this is like a subway station that connects two cities, but you can only fit people on the subway you cant bring your whole car with you). This transfer of plasmids is how genes get spread through bacteria. Which in the case of the show we were watching was an antibiotic resistant gene. to teach my mom about HIV and how it was useful I first had to explain to her how the virus works and also how non-retroviruses work to explain to her the difference between the two. This was really hard because she had no idea what transcription was, however after telling her its just turning one language like DNA or English into another like RNA or Spanish. I told her that normally what happens is you take DNA and change it to RNA but in the HIV virus you use RNA and change it into DNA. This is different becuase it like taking a chair and turning it into instructions to make a chair rather than taking instructions to make a chair and then making the chair. I then explained that this is helpful because that means we can give something RNA and the virus can turn it into DNA for us. 


PARENT RESPONSE: Kayla is a very good teacher she taught me all about plasmids and how they have "extra" DNA that can be shared between two bacteria and because of this it spreads the genes of Bacteria. I was confused why the other DNA couldn't be shared but she drew a great picture and gave a great analogy to answer this question of mine.

She also taught me a lot about not only HIV but also viruses in general. I learned that HIV is a virus that does things in reverse meaning it takes RNA and changes it into DNA, the make instructions for a process called transcription. She said this is helpful because scientists now know its possible to give something RNA and with RT, a machine that does transcription in reverse, can make it DNA for the cell.

Blake Wickline
December 07, 2013 at 6:50pm

Parent: I found how HIV can be lysogenic or hide in the nucleus of a host cell to be very interesting, especially the fact that its own enzymes create the DNA and create the sticky ends that attach to the chromosomal DNA, and also how this process breaks the central dogma of biology. 

Student: Teaching the retrovirus infection process and the principles of plasmids helped clarify the questions I had about them, such as how plasmids originally come from bacteria even though the ones we worked on in class were already extracted and how viruses are inactive during the lysogenic cycle.

Kevin Turek
December 30, 2013 at 8:57pm

Parent: HIV is a retro virus and therefore it breaks the central dogma of genetics. It uses reverse transcriptase. A plasmid are inside bacteria and they are traits that can be displayed in that organism. Like how some bacteria can display jellyfish traits.

Student: This one was very easy to explain to my mom she already knew this about HIV and knew a little more than me. Then for a plasmid I told her it was just like the operon, that can be turned on and put in certain organisms.

Madison Neyers
October 24, 2014 at 9:43pm

Parent: HIV is different from most because it breaks central dogma by using reverse transcriptase as RNA is coded for DNA. HIV is also a retrovirus. Plasmids are small circular and made of DNA, they are located in bacteria and increase genetic diversity and the amount of tools it has.

Student: The bacteria without plasmid are not resistant to the ampicillin antibiotics. Therefore, the ampicillin is able to kill the transcription and the bacteria that are not resistant die off. HIV contains envelope glycoproteins that attach to the receptors and allows the virus into the white blood cell. This is how HIV is able to contaminate the body so easily.

Madison Boggan
November 22, 2014 at 3:28pm

Parent: HIV is different because it is a retrovirus. This means that it goes from DNA to RNA which is backwards. It's useful in bioengineering because you can turn a message into DNA then insert it into a host. We can force organisms to make what we want this way. My son is interested in bioengineering so this was very interesting to learn about. On the other hand, HIV is hard to combat and I found out it is lysogenic so it stays in the body. 

Plasmids are only found in bacteria and they can be exchanged. They increase genetic diversity and fitness. 

Student: My mom has made me wonder several things over this topic. I now wonder what it would be like if humans had plasmids and what possibilities that would bring about. I also wonder what bioengineers are making organisms do that they weren't before and what it is possible for them to force organisms to do. Can the idea of a retrovirus produce the technology to make humans be able to reproduce their limbs through an inserted message or correct other things of the sort?

Mary Fuller
January 03, 2015 at 12:02pm


Student: The HIV virus is different from most because it is a retrovirus (an RNA virus). This means that it does reverse transcriptase, turning RNA into DNA instead of the other way around. Therefore it breaks the central dogma that DNA becomes mRNA becomes polypeptides. It is useful for bioengineering as reverse transcriptase is a tool in bioengineering used to create things such as ampicillin resistance. A plasmid is a small circular auxiliary DNA located in prokaryotes and a few eukaryotes. It allows genes to flow between two organisms as they exchange plasmids and increases the tools that a bacteria has.

Parent: Mary seemed to understand the major differences between HIV and other viruses. She explained to me that it does translation backwards which was interesting to help understand why it is such a unique virus. We also discussed plasmids and how they are mostly unique to bacteria.


Delaney Tiernan
January 23, 2015 at 6:57pm

Student: HIV can be useful because it is a retrovirus, which involves reverse transcriptase on RNA. HIV is lysogenic and hides your DNA provirus. This provides a use to helper-T cells.

Plasmids are extra copies of DNA. We have them to help with translation. They are very helpful in ampicillin as well, because they are used as back up in case cells are killed, extra DNA is accessible.

Parent: It was very interesting learning about this topic. Delaney was able to connect the two questions with the real world to help me comprehend. Viruses are a topic that I love to learn about and it was fun to learn about them in a more microscopic view.

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