Wednesday, March 30, 2011


EXTINCTION Thursday's class will feature excerpts from 'Extinction!', which is Episode 3 from NOVA's 'Evolution' series (2001). The video begins with paleontologist Peter Ward hunting for Permian fossils in South Africa's Karoo Desert, and relates ecological pyramids (which are like a 'house of cards') to mass extinctions, which are believed to be rare but important events in the history of life. It then follows the work of American Museum of Natural History researcher Michael Novacek in building the fossil record of small, shrew-like mammals from the Mesozoic, representative of the lineage that will survive the next mass extinction (the K/T event), which will claim the dinosaurs. It concludes with an examination of the role of human activity in accelerating the rate of extinction, with important attention to conservationists like Alan Rabinowitz. I encourage students to watch the video in its entirety for themselves if there are points that they don't get in class. We simply do not have enough class time to review this, but I know many students will want to see the whole story again, either by going to Google Video or watching it here:


These notes were given to students on March 25th and 28th. The Power Point on "Diversity and Classification" can be uploaded here. The Lecture Guide based on the Power Point can be found as a PDF file here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The Power Point with the Notes on Biotechnology is available here. All students will need to download the entire Power Point in order to finish the Lecture Guide, so make sure you do it!

Students who have lost their original Lecture Guide and need to get another copy can download the Guide as a PDF file here.

There has been a change in the syllabus: there will be no comprehensive Unit Tests in Units 7 or 8. The next such assessment will occur after Spring Break. In the meantime, students will do labs and projects while reviewing for CST's (April 11-14).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The Power Point Notes for Human Heredity are available here.

STUDENTS: Please remember that you have a major 100-point project DUE on Wednesday, March 23rd. This is a GROUP project. Next Wednesday is the ONLY in-class work day you will be given for the poster project, so you and your group need to meet beforehand.

Friday, March 11, 2011


As we enter our next unit on human genetics, consider this fascinating (and still somewhat unsettled) account of research on how genetic variation in human populations was shaped by the scourge of bubonic plague. I've shown the video in class as a way of introducing topics about population genetics and human health, and below please find links to where the entire thing can be viewed in chunks, courtesy of YouTube.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The lecture notes for the present unit on Genetics is available at this link. Students have a test in two days and should use their text and their notes to help complete their booklet (see previous post). Good luck!


Parents and Students:
An important project ('Mendelian Genetics Booklet') is due on Thursday, March 10th, the day of the next Unit Test. Students should have a blue handout describing the project.

If, for some reason, students lose this handout, it is available as a PDF file here.

Our class has already spent part of three periods assembling and labeling the basic parts of the booklet. Now it's up to the student to complete this assessment! It's very important that they give this their best effort: not only is it worth 70 points, but it will be used on exam day as a 'test aide' similar to the way we use our Cornell Notes. Students who fail to complete the booklet not only lose the points, but they will be at a disadvantage on their Unit Test.


Students watched the opening two segments of the NOVA program 'Life's Greatest Miracle' in class last week. This is helpful for understanding the special form of cell division called meiosis, and how the 'crossing-over' of chromosomes helps generate genetic variation.
You can watch it online here!