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The Science of Life

June 21, 2007

Chers Amis,Science

Even though we haven’t hit the half way mark for summer, it is time to start planning for next fall.  Science is the most interesting course for us and this year I wanted to focus on biology/life science continuing with our Adventures in Science, hands-on approach.  I found this excellent book at the library and had to find a copy for our science book basket  The Science of Life: Projects and Principles  for Beginning Biologists by Frank G. Bottone, Jr. The book is structured along the  five  kingdoms of life:  bacteria (Prokaryotae), plants (Plantae), animals (Animalia), fungi (Fungi), and protozoans (Protoctista).  Each section contains a series of 3-7 projects to introduce the student to the organisms in that kingdom through carefully controlled experiments according to the scientific method. Great importance is put both on discovery and documenting and analyzing the results.  The first sample experiment extracts iron from beef liver hemoglobin with magnets and a blender.  Cool!   I particularly like the experiments for bacteria, fungi and protozoans. Here are a few examples:

Bacteria: 

  • growing bacteria in a culture medium using gelatin from Jell-o and comparing antiseptics/disinfectant agents
  • learning about bacteria and antibiotics and resistant strains by testing several antibiotic creams  effectiveness at preventing growth of microorganisms

Fungi:

  • comparing the number of spores from various mushrooms, using that data to extrapolate/estimate the number of spores per mushroom
  • grow fungi in a growth medium in varying dilutions from collected spores
  • clone a mushroom from tissue samples

Protozoa:

  • capture protozoans from two pond sediment areas, estimate and compare their numbers and cell types and characteristics
  • determine if the composition of protozoans changes over time due to food/conditions etc.

If these don’t sound interesting, I am not doing them justice in my one sentence overview.  If you are looking for ideas for biology experiments, this might be a great starting point for you too!

–Marjorie

PS – I got a used ‘very good’ condition copy at Amazon used for only $5!  What a deal 🙂 

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