As I noted in my last post, the past couple of weeks I've not been in class very much. As was the case with APES, AP Bio soldiered along mightily. I love that this class has gotten to the point where they can run the show without me. My role has become that of chief facilitator and planner rather than lead lecturer. Moving into a facilitation role has allowed me to spend a lot of time working with the class on independent research and experimental design. A concept that has been sadly neglected in previous iterations of AP Biology. Over the course of the year, this class has become very adept at identifying questions for research, constructing testable hypotheses, and designing appropriate experimental tests. At this point, I can trust that so long as appropriate experimental methods are known, valid research will be conducted. As a teacher, it's a really fun process to watch.
A couple of weeks ago I tossed the class the problem of plant transpiration. Their instructions were as follows: "Each group will receive 3 plants (pansies). Your job is to design an experiment to test factors that impact the transpiration rate of a plant." After talking with them a little about how to measure rates of transpiration, they were set loose and as is always the case, a wide variety of experiments were produced. At this point, I'd love to turn the account over to Melissa Amador, Winta Daniel, and Shaun Tarraporwalla. Enjoy!
This week in Mr. Kite’s class we had a lab to do on transpiration. Each group was given 6 plants to use for the experiment. The experiment called for each of the groups to alter the environment around the plants to see if the transpiration rate would change from the control plant. We had to cover the roots and soil of the plant with saran (plastic) wrap so no extra water could get in and skew the transpiration rate, because to do determine it we had to weight the plant before changing it's environment and after 24 hours have passed. My experiment did not work out as planned, it seems we had a leak in one of our plants and water was able to get in which made the plant heavier, which means we could not determine how much water the plant had loss. We had to change the course of our experiment and just let all three plants just sit in their empty beakers with nothing changed in their surroundings. We got some data but not as much as wanted. Hopefully, we can still make it work even with these issue.
This week was probably the shortest week we have had this year. Everyone seemed to be pretty excited because we would be getting snow for the second time this year… that’s pretty much unheard of here in North Carolina. We didn’t do much, seeing as though Mr. Kite was absent two of the three days due to educational purposes. On Monday we took our test on the ninth unit thus far, which was mostly about plants. On Tuesday we were asked to construct phylogenetic trees tracking the evolution of invertebrates from the common ancestor all the way up to the sea stars. This assignment was completed in pairs in which we had to note significant advances in body plan, nervous systems, digestion, circulation, and respiration of each of the animal groups. Class on Wednesday went by very quickly because we were scheduled for a half day and each class was allotted only 45 minutes. We all received a much needed break due to all of the ice and snow! However, it’s go time and we are ready to come back and learn!
This week we learned all about hormones….Plant hormones that is
So the week of 3-7 was mainly centered around plants, throughout the week we learned about plant hormones, defense mechanism, etc. However the highlight of the week for me was when we conducted an experiment to determine the transpiration rate of plants.
What really made me enjoy this particular experiment was the degree of freedom we were provided; The class was divided into groups and each group could set up an experimental condition to test the rate of transpiration. The vast array of interesting experiments that resulted was truly astounding.
My partner and I decided to test the effect of wind on transpiration. Setting up the experiments was really one of the most fun things to do! We had a series of plants to chose from, once selecting the plant we wet them and wrapped them in a plastic wrap (to prevent transpiration/evaporation form the soil). Once they were wrapped we labeled them and placed them in our plants into a specialized container(s) and attempted to remove any lurking variables that might have affected our results.
Throughout the remainder of the week we took down data on our plants, and will complete a lab report soon. So in conclusion this was another great experiment done on a another great week in the always fun and always exciting Lab 207!