Vital Signs @ Belle Valley – Tuesday: Sheep Heart Dissection

Vital Signs @ Belle Valley – Tuesday: Sheep Heart Dissection

Day 2 is over, and our daring dissectors have had an in-depth look at the workings of every mammal’s most important organ: the heart! During their exploration, students continued to recognize the relationship between structure and function that is present everywhere in biological structures. One student commented, “Every piece of the organ has a specific job, and everything is efficient!”

The scientists-in-training will continue to explore this connection between structure and function as the week goes on!

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Vital Signs @ Belle Valley – Monday: Glasses Galore

Vital Signs @ Belle Valley – Monday: Glasses Galore

On the first day of a jam-packed week, students delved into bio engineering, specifically creating glasses! Our budding engineers explored the different types of lenses and their ability to magnify and minimize objects from various distances. The campers combined different strengths of lenses to enhance their vision and read ultra-fine print from 6 and 8 feet away.

Ask your student:

Do eyeballs have convex or concave lenses? (convex)

CSImsa @ Belle Valley – Tuesday: Lift a Finger

CSImsa @ Belle Valley – Tuesday: Lift a Finger

Our CSI team is well on its way to cracking the case! Today, the scientists-in-training delved into the study of fingerprints. They first fingerprinted themselves in order to learn about the different recognizable fingerprint patterns. Students then examined the fingerprint evidence collected from the crime scene and attempted to match it with prints collected later from suspects.

Our investigators have had a busy two days, but there is more forensic science to be done before the culprit can be apprehended!

Ask your student:

What are the three characteristic fingerprint patterns? (loops, whorls, and arches)

After two days, do you have any theories about the case?

CSImsa @ Belle Valley – Monday: Observation 101

CSImsa @ Belle Valley – Monday: Observation 101

The detectives have called in the CSI unit, and our junior forensic scientists are on the case! The investigation is well under way, with students honing their observation skills by spotting hidden objects in various pictures. They also practiced their mastery of memory and recall by seeing a series of objects and attempting to remember what was shown.

Investigators will continue to utilize their observational talent throughout the week as they attempt to solve the case!

Ask your student:

What evidence have you collected so far in the case?

How did you do in your observation and memory skills practice?

BioSleuths @ Belle Valley – Tuesday: Honey Bees

BioSleuths @ Belle Valley – Tuesday: Honey Bees

One of the four areas students investigated today was the intricate social nature of bees and how the different types of bees work together to make honey, the honeycomb, and more bees! As a group, students enacted the roles of the bees in a hive and “produced” their own honey. “I can’t believe bees have to work so hard just to make a little honey!” observed one student.

Our intrepid biosleuths also used manipulatives and geometry to discover how and why honeybees have perfected their honeycomb design and concluded that hexagons are the optimal shape for honeycomb cells.

Ask your student:

From which part of the bee’s body does the wax come? (abdomen)

Which type of bee in the colony builds the honeycomb? (worker)

BioSleuths @ Belle Valley – Monday: Soil Life

BioSleuths @ Belle Valley – Monday: Soil Life

Whether you can see them or not there are many things living in the soil. This is one of the concepts your student learned today. Students set up two experiments today to learn not only about where life comes from but also what kinds of organisms live in the soil. Students worked in groups to prepare their first experiment. They placed pieces of chicken in cans with different coverings; they will come back to these cans later in the week to observe what is new. After this experiment they collected soil samples to learn about all the living things inside of it. Many of the students found worms or other critters while they were on this mission.

These curious biosleuths shined light directly over the Burlese-Tullgren funnel to help them understand what organisms live in the ground. “I think I’m going to find more worms in my soil.” hypothesized one of the sleuthers.

Ask your student:

How did the light help you find organisms in the Burlese-Tullgren funnel set up? (organisms will tend to move away from the light/heat source, which is downward into the alcohol)

C.S.IMSA 6/11 – Friday: Drops to DNA Part 2

C.S.IMSA 6/11 – Friday: Drops to DNA Part 2

The case has been cracked! Our junior forensic scientists worked in the lab today in order to extract DNA from the pieces of a broken vase that were found at the crime scene. After analyzing the evidence and comparing it to the DNA samples from several key suspects, the CSI team has identified the culprit!

Students concluded the week with a successfully cracked case, and experience with real CSI science!

Ask your student:

Were your suspicions from earlier in the week correct? If not, what evidence changed them?

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BioSleuths 6/15 – Friday: Forensic Entomology

BioSleuths 6/15 – Friday: Forensic Entomology

Today, students continued their study of forensic entomology: the use of knowledge of insects to help solve criminal investigations. Our junior investigators learned how forensic entomologists use the life cycle of maggot-laying flies in order to determine the exact time of death of a victim. In order to observe the life cycle in action, students examined their canned chicken samples from Monday.

In addition, the biosleuths used the knowledge they had gained about forensic entomology to solve crime scene situations!

Ask your student:

What exactly are maggots? (fly larva)

How can forensic scientists use maggots to estimate time of death? (life stages of a fly take a known amount of time)

Vital Signs 6/11 – Thursday: The Blood Part 1

Vital Signs 6/11 – Thursday: The Blood Part 1

Today, our scientists delved into the study of blood type and the genetics that help determine it. Students first discovered the physical basis behind the ABO blood type group, analyzing different antigens. In the lab, they attempted to determine the blood type of different samples by creating antibody reactions.

The analysts-in-training also learned the basics of Mendelian genetics, discovering how blood type traits are inherited and why some are dominant over others.

Ask your student:

How many total possibilities are there for blood type? (there are 8 including both genes: A+/-, B+/-, AB+/-, and O+/-)

What is one method to predict the blood type of the offspring when you know that of the parents? (use a Punnett square)

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C.S.IMSA 6/11 – Thursday: Drops to DNA Part 1

C.S.IMSA 6/11 – Thursday: Drops to DNA Part 1

Today our CSI technicians began what will be a two day process to extract DNA from a broken vase found at the crime scene. In order to prepare themselves to discover what should be the most convincing piece of evidence, students learned about the extraction process by using their own DNA!

After their training, investigators are ready to process the last piece of evidence tomorrow!

Ask your student:

What was one substance you used in the extraction of your own DNA? (Gatorade, soap,  alcohol)

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