Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reflection for Week of February 6-10th

This week focused on solidifying standards 4.1 and 4.2, and beginning to cover biotechnological tools and their applications and implications.  I started out the week feeling a little confused, what with having rushed through Prezi 4.2, but I spent time going over the Prezi again and watching Crash Course and Bozeman Science videos, and that helped clarify the majority of the material.  The questions that I still had, I asked Mrs. Cole and she, as usual, cleared up all my confusion!  I feel pretty good on replication, transcription, and translation now, although I still often have to pause and think about what details belong to what process.  What helped me remember this was the play-doh fun we had!  Having made some proteins, like RNA polymerase, and not others, like DNA polymerase, helps me remember which enzyme is used in which process.  I also felt good on the POGIL, the Schwarzenegger cow (if the mice are Schwarzenegger mice, then the cows should be Schwarzenegger cows), and Rock Pocket mouse packets, and I didn’t go down a rabbit hole about how the change in the DNA signals different amounts of pigment in Rock Pocket mice, like Kirk and I did when the cute critters were introduced to the class in Unit 1.  I’m still in awe about how much of a difference a single point mutation can make!  
I’m feeling pretty good on the material from 4.1 and 4.2, but 4.3 threw me for a spin.  I either really get a biotech tool and can see how it could be used immediately, or I have no idea what it is or how it works; there doesn’t seem to be an in between.  I generally understand the tools that I have worked with, like restriction enzymes, PCR, and gel electrophoresis.  I also think I have a pretty good understanding of sequencing and gene libraries, although I want to feel a little more solid on them.  I do not understand vectors (I have no idea what these are, and I feel like I am probably overthinking it), labeling (I get the overall idea of this, but not the specifics), and microarrays (I thought I knew what was going on, and then turns out I didn’t at all, which was an unfortunate realization).  In general, I feel like I understand the applications better than the tools themselves.  
I was feeling similarly lost last week about the 4.2 material and I now understand it, so I have no doubt I will get biotech tools and applications. It will just take time.  Unfortunately, with this material, there aren’t any Crash Course videos, and the one Bozeman science video is about all the processes I feel ok on, naturally.  But I will watch the vodcast again, now that I have had some time away from it, and I will ask Mrs. Cole--you guessed it--more questions!  And don’t worry, I promise there will be no flashlights!
Anyway, my favorite part of the week (I think I will make this a theme in my reflections) was playing/working with Play-Doh, which we did Thursday and Friday.  I love making things and learning, so this was basically heaven.  I worked with a partner that I don’t think I have ever worked with (sorry Naomi, I can’t even remember what day yesterday was, so don’t take it personally), and that was a lot of fun.  I feel we worked well together, shared a practical mindset when it came to the project, and used our time wisely.  This may be the first time I finished my work before a lot of my friends (gasp!).  
Basically our work this week focused on furthering our knowledge about our genetic blueprint, how it functions to create who we are, and how we can alter that.  This, of course, is a very important part of the curriculum, and it has connections everywhere.  Alter a protein and you alter its function, which may be to create or destroy other molecules that we learned about in our matter unit, or it may be to create ATP, a molecule we discussed in our energy unit.  Genes are the material of natural selection, so this unit has everything to do with Unit 1.  Unit 4 gives rise to everything discussed in the other units, and I really look forward to fully understanding and expanding my knowledge on the tools that we can use to alter the molecule that makes us who we are.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Reflection for Week of January 31-Feb 3 2017

Standards 4.1 and 4.2
This week was all about the introduction of the role that information plays in life.  Domain 4, Information, deals with DNA, RNA, protein synthesis, expression of genes based on genotype, and how mutations affect this, and this first week gave me a taste of everything.  
We started the week Vodcast 4.1 as homework.  This dealt mainly with the history of DNA and how experiments built off one another, as they do in the scientific community, to get us to understanding of genetics that we have today.  I feel that I understand these experiments, such as Griffith’s vaccine gone wrong and Hershey Chase’s exceptional use of radioactive tagging.  I think I understand them well because I learned about them in sophomore year and also wrote about them in my essay arguing for the creativity of science.  The one experiment that I didn’t feel completely comfortable with was TH Morgan and company’s contribution to the understanding of inheritance.  
My favorite parts of the week were some of the packets we did.  I liked the Meselson and Stahl packet where we followed the scientists' line of thinking to determine that DNA replicates semiconservatively.  I always like when we do a packet that has us reason out why something is the way it is, because I am less likely to forget the concept.  My favorite packet this week was the one where we used genetic markers to determine whether Jeff could be related to the H. family, because who doesn’t love a good mystery?  
I had a hard time with Prezi 4.2, largely, I think, because I felt rushed when I was doing it.  This meant that when I didn’t fully understand something, I didn’t take the time I should have to look it up, or at least look at the slide for a little longer.  I get the broad idea of replication, transcription, and translations, and the POGILs helped with this, but am shaky on some of the specifics, such as the proteins involved in replication, what transcription factors are exactly, and the sequence of events in these processes.  Also, I do not really understand Beadle and Tatum’s experiment.  
This shakiness, I am sure, will get better once I have a chance to sit down with the material for a while.  That will be my starting point in bettering my understanding, but I will also look at other sources, such as the Adv. Bio vodcasts (I like the combined visual and audio, and I also feel that I don’t really understand these Prezis very well), the textbook, and the videos by Mr. Anderson and Crash Course Biology.  Lastly, I will, of course, interrogate Mrs. Cole with all my remaining questions! :)
DNA is the blueprint for life, and so is obviously a very important part of the course.  This unit basically explains the how and why of the cell’s workings: how and why DNA, mRNA, and tRNA are structured the way they are, and how this dictates the way the cell operates, that sort of thing.  DNA’s ability to replicate, be transcribed and be translated is the reason that the cell operates the way it does, the reason that we can inherit information from our parents, the reason that proteins are produced, and why certain proteins are produced in certain cells.  This unit connects to our first unit on evolution, because evolution is based in genetics, our second unit on matter, especially the organelles section, and our third unit on energy, because many of these processes require energy.  In regards to unit two, it has been fun for me to remember how some of the organelles that we learned about in unit two function together to accomplish what needs to be done by the cell.  For example, how the ribosome, when it creates a special “signal peptide,” goes the RER and creates the rest of the polypeptide there.  I’m not exactly sure why or how that happens, so I guess that’s another thing I need to clarify!