It's been a productive past few weeks in the middle school classroom. Our science & engineering work has been primarily focused upon biology since winter break. After a detailed exploration of cell structure and processes, we have pushed into the areas of DNA and genetics, and most recently, Darwin and evolution.
A few of our highlights from recent weeks have included a fun forensics lab where students had to translate a DNA sample into RNA, followed by its coded amino acids, and finally physical traits to be matched with an imaginary suspect. After learning about Mendel's classic genetics experiments, we next used dominant and recessive alleles for 6 traits to make up "monsters" which we then used probability principles and Punnett squares to create offspring. This was super fun, and resulted in some adorably freaky baby monsters. This past week, having just learned about the Theory of Evolution By Natural Selection, the kids rolled dice to randomly select ecosystem, climate, and predator/prey conditions, then designed animals biologically adapted for that niche. They crafted some awesome shoebox dioramas, complete with a "Day In the Life" story and full taxonomy for the creature they designed.
Next on the docket is... SCIENCE FAIR (or, "Problem Solved Expo", which I believe is its proper term these days).
The event will be held at DGS on Friday, 3/1, and this year will include traditional inquiry-based projects, engineering projects, and (for the first time) Rube Goldberg machines. Our 8th graders have had to jump the gun on this one, as they will be presenting via the NC Science & Engineering Fair virtually this coming Saturday. All of our students are encouraged to bring in their 3-panel boards, photos, supplies, and results over the next few weeks to craft their projects in class and hone their presentation skills. See the email from Mr. Derek for more detail on the fair.
It was wonderful to get to see all of our parents at conferences last week. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, especially as pertain to the upcoming Problem Solved event!