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.  

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