Thursday, February 11, 2010

Local Trappers Teach Students about Wildlife

Dryden High School is located in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. This is the second year that we have organized a BioClub, but only our first attempt at blogging!
The DHS BioClub has a distinct environmental slant to it. The students in this club are working hard to prepare for a regional Envirothon -this involves regular, weekly meetings, guest speakers, field trips and workshops. Last November (before the temperature plummeted to 30 degrees below zero C), the club headed out to a local trap line to learn about wildlife habitat. The trappers walked the students through a variety of forest types to describe how, where and when they set their traps for specific animal species. What a wonderful way to learn first hand about animal habitats!
Last week we followed up on our bush visit with an indoor trapping workshop. Students had the opportunity skin martin, beaver, muskrat and squirrel - with expert trappers on hand to assist. They also took some time learn how to identify local animal species by looking at pelts, skulls and teeth.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

re: Winter 2009

Our BioClub has begun annotating a bacteriophage genome. A few years ago my microbiology classes were able to go Phagehunting for the Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. They collected soil samples and isolated 8 phages which were sent to the PBI to be sequenced. One of those phages is now ready for annotating, which is finding the genes in the sequence. Once the annotation is done it will be deposited in GenBank and the students who helped on the project will be listed as authors.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keystone High School Biology Club

Hello NABT chapters! This is Keystone Biology Club’s first blog post, and we have ever so much to relay about our unique, online chapter!

We recently elected co-chairs for our three committees: the Blogster, Reporter and Social committees. Congratulations to our co-chairs: Elizabeth B., Sara S., Nisa A., Sumayyah U. and Hemi M. Our club held an online election on January 19, 2010 during which members voted on the candidates. The candidates all gave presentations detailing why they are a good choice and how they would manage the committee they were running for.

Our club is currently organized into committees and each have their own “duties”. The Social Committee, for example, organizes “fun meetings” and other socials for the members. The Reporters form three groups and research topics based on personal interests. Topics in circulation currently include prokaryotes, the chaos theory as it relates to Biology and processed foods. The Blogsters devotedly work on publishing a blog piece every month.

We are also very excited at our new newsletter mini-committee. The newsletter is to be distributed in the form of Word documents to all members each month.

To start the biology club, we first solved the murder of Mr. Brooks. His body had been found in the park where it appeared that he had been having a nice picnic before he was murdered. This whodunit started some discussion on the biology club’s group site, and speculation over which of Mr. Brook’s girlfriends had killed him, and why. For the second puzzle we worked on, we were stranded on an island with only wheat and a cow. We had to decide how to use the wheat and the cow so that we could survive the longest. These puzzles were interesting, and started the club with fun activities that kept the members interested and attending meetings.

We also completed activities in meetings. In the January meeting, the attendees brought a piece of tinfoil or paper and attempted to cut it in half as many times as possible. The activity emphasized the fact that a tinfoil molecule is minute, because we would have had to cut the piece of tinfoil into thirty-six pieces to obtain a foil molecule. The most cuts that were made by the attendees were seventeen.

Some groups have presented research projects during the meetings. One group created a presentation about Vitamin D, and another did a report about Tamiflu. The biology club members also learned about H1N1, also known as Swine or Novel flu, which interested people because it is a current biological event.

We have drafted a multitude of new, intriguing ideas for our club. From a play dealing with world pollution and an ingenious onion car to a movie night, Keystone’s Biology Club is ready to start off the New Year spectacularly. We are also reforming our Reporter group to go beyond PowerPoint presentations and possibly include game show style presentations. Combining engaging activities with our projects allows members to retain more Biology related information easily. We are exploring even more ideas, including a wacky web cam day, virtual science fair, virtual tour through 360 degree panoramas, and much more.

Existing as an online extra-curricular has its disadvantages. Communications being misinterpreted and dissimilar time zones pose a difficulty. However, our members have risen to the challenge by being as accommodating as possible. In this way, we have gleaned necessary life skills through Bio Club. Though we have not met each other personally, we are a tight knit community who learn from each individual member. And there are more advantages: we have the freedom to attend our monthly meetings from any computer in the world.