The first term in 2022 has been one where students have been investigating the many aspects of biology. Year 7’s focused on using and identifying organisms with numbered and branched ‘keys’ (Figure 1). Several practical activities focused on identifying insects and given the good rain and warm weather recently there were lots of specimens available for students to examine.
Figure 1. Students Creating their own key
Year 8’s spent the last 4 weeks improving on their understanding of the cell (Figure 2). Students learnt about ‘Cell Theory’ and the 3 core elements of our understanding of the cell - that all organisms are made of cells, that cells are the fundamental building blocks used to create tissues, organs, and entire functioning organisms, and that cells can only arise from other cells. Interestingly, scientists are now on the verge of advancing Cell Theory with new evidence suggesting ‘cells’ as we know them may not be the fundamental building blocks of life – there may be smaller sub-units of cells capable of doing that. This concept of advancing our understanding of topics as we accumulate evidence is a fundamental aspect of science.
Figure 2. Students examing specialised cells
The Year 9 students have been busy analysing how the body manages to maintain an internal balance even when external environments change. The maintenance of blood sugar levels, heart rate, and breathing rate are all maintained by processes that support ‘homeostasis’. Students experimented with recording breathing and heart rates before and after moderate exercise. The collection of data was used to graph the changes over time (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Students collecting heart rate data to analyse
Year 10 students focused on genetics and issues surrounding heredity for the first part of Term 1. A key activity for students in class was to extract DNA from the cells of strawberry fruits for viewing under a microscope (Figure 4). Students discovered that despite the fact that we are unable to view the vast majority of cells with the naked eye, when unravelled the DNA that fits within each cell is capable of being drawn out to approximately 1.5 metres in length!
Figure 4. Students extracting DNA