Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thinkwell Biology Review and Cell Activites

We are really enjoying our Thinkwell AP Biology course, but we are moving at a much slower pace than I had anticipated.  This is partially because we keep going down rabbit holes and discussing side topics and doing supplemental reading...and partially because there is just so much information to cover.  

It's December and we have just finally finished Unit One, so we will definitely be extending our subscription!

The lectures are great because the instructor takes big topics and breaks them down into manageable pieces (about 10 or 15 minutes instead of a typical hour-long college lecture.)  We never watch more than one video a day because we like to discuss the video, go over the course notes, and delve into supplemental information.  

My only criticism is that the video quizzes are useless; they are too short, not at all thorough, and awkwardly worded.  We never do them anymore--I make the tests using the excellent notes that come with the course (above.)

I made a vocabulary matching game to help the kids review for the unit test.  I also had them put some terms in order from least to most complex.

After testing, I thought it would be nice to take a short break from our usual routine.  The kids are always enthusiastic about microscope work! We don't have the greatest microscope in the world so I often print photos of what we're looking at as well.  Today we looked at Spirogyra, Dinoflagellates, and Chlamydomonas, and read a little about each. 

Then we prepared onion slides because, well, it's easy.  And fun!

Onions work well in microscope slides because it's easy to peel off a very thin layer.  We dyed them with regular food coloring.

Note to self: remove the extra onion pieces immediately so you don't cry while trying to use the microscope! 

"Oh WOW!  I can see a nucleus!"

We've never been able to make this work well, but just for the heck of it we looked at cork cells.  They always look clumpy, not at all like Robert Hooke's drawings, and I would imagine that our microscope is more powerful than what he used in 1665! 

That's OK, we still had fun messing around with the microscope.  And the kids did a fantastic job on their biology unit tests!

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