Search This Blog

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Table Top Crime Scenes

I saw a table top crime scene lab for Forensics and I thought that is what I am doing this year instead of setting up half my room as a crime scene and risk kids moving things.  Most of the examples I saw and read about the teachers made all the crime scenes and the kids measured and drew the rough sketches and final sketches from the teacher's crime scenes.  Well, I thought, why not have the kids create the crime scenes too?  Because most of them will be crap... that is why.  So disappointing.  

Several groups didn't provide an aerial view which made it impossible to draw a sketch with measurements ... I had them switch crime scenes with another group to do the sketch.  Well, after the nonsense that ensued trying to figure out how to make it work, my co-teacher decided to have his groups make the rough sketch from their own crime scene.  The groups who did a good job had a very easy time, and the ones who didn't follow directions quickly figured out why it was important to do so.  

Several people did good jobs.  most were paper, but this group below chose legos for their crime scene.  I love the lego blood..  

Another problem we ran into was my freshmen kept touching things - especially with the lego crime scene.  I lose it a bit, when kids touch things that are not theirs, this year my freshmen don't seem to recognize that some spaces in my room are off limits.  Next year I guess I will have to put crime scene tape up!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Welcome to Hell

I started taking pictures of the temperature of my classroom once they said it would be a while before it was fixed.

The air conditioner is so old the parts are not kept in stock.

The only thing keeping me sane is this $20 box fan that I had to buy myself (insert bitterness).

Go to the library they said ... that turned into free days ... students not understanding ... bad grades ... chaos ...

So we are back in my room ... 

The new part came in on day 43 without air ... 

Then they figured out another party is broken.  But this part is stocked ... so it should only be 10 more days ...   Welcome to hell.  The first hour of our sauna treatment is free, we charge $5 per hour after that.

When the Copier Hates You

So for the last year I have not had a printer in my classroom.  Mine broke last October and wasn't replaced until the new budget kicked in this September.  Thankfully I could send documents to the copier, but it isn't always easy to copy the test without the answers on the back, or to remember to hit all the buttons on a new interface ... double-sided ... stapled ... real complex stuff here.

So the beginning of DEVOLSON (Dark Evil Vortex of Late September, October and November - #LoveTeach) found me walking around a lab table building 16 tests (thank goodness it was just an AP test) that were all one sided. not stapled. and the copier had spit out all of page 1, then all of page 2, etc.  

Never again.   :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Be an Enzyme: Toothpickase Lab

I went back to the toothpickase lab with AP Biology. It's super easy to find in a quick websearch.  The first day I didn't have bowls - that was a mistake.  I found these little bowls at Target for less than a dollar each, it made such a big difference.  The kids start with just toothpicks and then add in paperclips to distract them as inhibitors.  I went ahead and bought 8 big boxes of toothpicks so that I would make sure I had enough for at least next year.  (I am so tired of going to the store for lab supplies.)  I had one group that was really serious about not peeking during the trials.  

I had one group that night have been a little overly organized (I loved it).

I avoided the cold water segment because there was an incident one year with students trying to see who could keep their hands in the cold water the longest (not at my school ... but still ... keep an eye on that).

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Water Magnets

The water magnets are always a hit.  I give each kid 3 water molecules and ask them what it is.  We can talk about polarity and Hydrogen bonds between the molecules versus the covalent bonds that hold the Hydrogens to the Oxygen.  The set also comes with salt - we talk about how one is positive and negative and that is what holds them together.  

Then I have the kids get in groups of 4 with the people they are sitting near and ask the kids to dissolve the salt in their water.  It often takes a while to get hydration spheres. 

For the first time I can remember I had students testing how strong the magnets were .... how many pages can you have between the pages and still be able to control the top magnet with the bottom magnet.  I love curiosity.

I do not make any money from this product - I bought them from 3D Molecular Designs and I have the 6 cup kit.

Friday, October 25, 2019


Several years ago I spent one October afternoon seeking out a pool supply shop to grab 4 pool noodles.  Could I have gotten them cheaper at the end of the summer? Yes.  Could I have avoided that ugly brown at the end of the summer?  Yes.  Was I thinking about enzyme models at the end of the summer? No.

I saw this at a mini CAST I went to the first year I was teaching.  Anything else I was slacking at?  Of course!  I didn't do the best job creating these models.  I used a old steak knife in the back of my lab to saw my pool noodles into circles.

The green piece is the enzyme. with an active site and allosteric site.

The blue and brown pieces are supposed to be the same size - one is the substrate one is the competitive inhibitor.

The orange piece is supposed to be smaller and be a non competitive inhibitor.

We also discuss how now models are perfect and what we can show versus what we cannot show with this model.