Friday, October 30, 2009

Camouflage Hide and Go Seek

Way back in Unit 2 we talked about predator prey relationships and coloration patterns. Some coloration is sued by predators and some by prey to avoid notice. As promised, today we played camouflage hide and go seek. It looked a bit gray and rainy, but it was nice outside and no one complained about being cold. I took my camera, but did an awful job of remembering to take photos.

Many students brought camouflage clothing to wear, but students in tans, browns, grays, and even black did an excellent job of blending in the with the environment. The object of this game is to get as close to the prey (Me most of the time) without being seen. Students hide with one eye on me, and I look for as many of them as I can. I (and all the people I have found) close eyes and count again, and the remaining students move closer until everyone is found or we give up and see who got the closest. Pictured to the right: Ricky, TC, Logan, Jay, and Josh.

In first period, Brooke T won twice with her excellent camouflage and hiding skills. Josh S won the last round. Good times were had by all and an excellent discussion was had back in the classroom.

Fourth period was a smaller class, but we had lots of extra camo to go around, so some students loaded up and made head coverings with extra shirts. We tried a few new areas in fourth period with success. No one got as close, but there were plenty of new hiding spots to find. Here you can see of my fourth period students walking towards the woods.

The first round was a tie between Amber and Luke, the second round Dante won but he was pretty far away, no one won the third round because we found everyone, and the last lightning round was a three way tie between Amber, Nick, and someone I can't remember.

The hardest part is closing your eyes and trying not to look as you listen to everyone move closer. Some students really enjoy looking and some claim they can't find anyone. In first period, I got to hide a few times while Megan and a few others did an excellent job finding their peers. In fourth period, Morgan, Nick, and Luke were excellent spotters. Pictures is Brittany H, Amber, Kaythurn, and some unknowns closing their eyes while waiting for folks to rehide. I took this picture with my eyes closed while I was counting out loud.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Virginia Aquarium

Yesterday, many students had an exciting day at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach. The bus ride was long, but not as long and boring as most students expected. We ate lunch just as we arrived at the aquarium and then went to look at the exhibits.

Students were divided into groups and looked through the exhibits and examining the animals and answering the questions. The Virginia Aquarium is actually two building separated by a nature trail through the salt marsh and most were complaining how hot it was! It was pretty neat because you could see the fiddler crabs in the mud waving their arms around trying to impress the ladies.

Many students got a huge thrill out of touching the stingrays in the touch tank. I think stingrays feel like hotdogs - slimy but with a stiff structure. Another hit were the otters, which sometimes were sleeping and sometimes romping around. There were a lot of sea turtle fans and students were able to tell which were boys and which were girls (look how long the tail is). Students also learned how to tell boy and girl sharks apart.

After seeing the aquarium, students walked along a local beach completing a scavenger hunt and looking for sea shells. Many were surprised how much you could actually find on the beach and pleased that they knew what they were finding.

After a fast food stop for dinner, students climbed back on the bus for the long ride home. The rest area was just in time for a much needed break in the middle of the trip. Students arrived back at the school a little late, a little tired, but after having a good day.

Pictures will be shared soon. If you took some, please share them with me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jawless Fish

Today we discusses jawless fish. Jawless fish are primitive fish with a notochord instead of a backbone and a flat rasping mouth that cannot close like ours. As a result thes fish cannot bite... only scrape and hold on.

Pictured to the right, you can see five lamprey mouths and one lamprey head with blue eyes and seven gill holes.

Jawless fish include lampreys which are parasites and hagfish which are detritavores. Neither one will ever win a beauty contest.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finishing up Crustaceans and Echinoderms

Today student's took a practical examination covering crustaceans and echinoderms. Most students thought it was pretty easy, but the ones I thought were hard they excelled at and the ones I thought were simple seemed to stump them. Here Becca puzzles over the bonus question.

First period doubled up and took their regular test today too.

On Monday we start talking about FISH and on Wednesday we will be going to the aquarium in Virginia Beach.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Computer Lab Wednesday

Great start on invertebrate projects with Ning. I left comments for each of you on your page about your progress. Please read these comments and ask questions if you have them.

Today's Goals
  • Drag the 'Latest Activity' to the bottom of your page
  • Finish the TEXTBOX requirements
  • Work on Blog Posts
No videos unless I give you verbal permission. Stay out of YouTUBE... this is your warning.

Before you get started for today, try this out - as review for your tests. Review the terms if you need to, but otherwise play scatter and space race.
  • First period I will not see you on Thursday. You have a test on Monday and a practical on Friday.
  • Fourth Period you have a test on Thursday and a practical on Friday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Computer Lab Day 2 and 3

Today your goals are
  • sign into Gtest (your school email - directions below)
  • Follow the Ning invite for invertebrate projects
  • Set up your Ning Invertebrate profile

Directions for signing into GTest Email
  1. Go to the homepage. Click on the Gmail button and sign into your gtest email.
  2. The login for your gmail (if you have not changed it) is: Last-name First-Initial Middle-Initial so mine is JancaitisKT
  3. The password (if you have not already changed it) is: First-Initial Student-Number Last-Initial so mine would be K46311J
  4. It will prompt you to change your password. Please make it something you will remember.
  5. In your email you should have an invitation to join Ning and the Invertebrate Fakebook Project.Follow the link.
Ning Profiles
When it asks for your name, put in the name of your invertebrate. For your profile picture, put in one of those clear photos that you found last time we were in the lab.

See Miss J for the handout of required parts to include. You need to get a lot accomplished. Do not waste time. If you have questions, get my attention and ask them. You can also put questions on the Green Dragon Nudibranch page online and I will answer them online after class.

Crustacean Echinoderm Molluscs Observations

Today students observed specimens of some of the organisms we have been discussing in class. Many students were surprised that these "specimens" were purchased at the grocery store and that some of them like the squid could be eaten. Perhaps I forgot to mention calamari?

For molluscs, students observed a mussel, clam, oyster, and squid. Students looked in the inside of the bivalves and some questioned why anyone would eat them. I think they were more surprised by how empty the shell actually was. The squid was a hit! Students were able to observe its siphon, the beak, feel the pen (the inner supportive shell), and see all the tentacled arms, plus it was leaking a little bit of ink. Dale, Nick, and Rachael had some excellent squid drawings.

Students observed horseshoe crabs and put together a miniature model. Students observed crustaceans like blue crabs, snow crabs, a lobster and shrimp that still had their heads.
Maria C (with a C) is impressed with the shrimp. Shrimp with heads are not easy to find because we queasy Americans often do not want to eat things that appear to be staring at us. Shrimp with heads have their legs too - those things that are on the tail that you are used to peeling off are actually swimmerets.

On the lobster, students had to identify the two claws - the shredder and the crusher. Students also looked the mouth and decided whether they thought a lobster had teeth. Brittany S, Luke, Kaythurn, and Raven get a closer look at the lobster and its claws.

Students compared two crabs - the blue crab and the snow crab. On the blue crab, they correctly identified it was a male and then took a look at the three types of legs. Crustaceans have ten legs, but on the blue crab the first pair are pincers, the next three pairs are walking legs, and the fifth pair of legs actually has a fin because the blue crab can swim. Snow crabs are a kind of spider crab and have a bumpy skin to encourage the growth of algae for camouflage. Alicia is checking out the blue crab - she checked out everything in this activity.

Students looked at the tests (endoskeletons) of sea stars, sea urchins, a sand dollar, and a sea biscuit. The hole or opening on the bottom in the middle is the mouth of the echinoderm. Sea urchin tests are bumpy from where the spines used to be attached.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Echinoderm and Crustacean Review

Today in Marine Ecology, we began class by working on review sheets for fifteen minutes of quiet time. Students were working so well that they wanted five more minutes because most of them were almost done.

Next we did a crustacean echinoderm challenge were students had to look at pictures and identify whether organisms crustaceans or echinoderms and then got an extra point if they could correctly identify the name of it. The fish tank table rocked it and Chase, Jay, Logan, Maria S, and Manuel all scored 18 out of 20 and won some beads.

Next we worked on some identification puzzles and students started a practice practical. Students have a test next week Wednesday or Thursday.

One cool crustacean we have been learning about is the mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp have folded claws like a praying mantis. They have lightning quick reflexes and shoot their arms out to smack their prey. It is said that they have enough power to break aquarium glass. If you want to see an interesting video of a mantis shrimp attacking and eating different prey - check here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Computer Lab Day - Invertebrate Projects

Greetings. You are going to take on the persona of an invertebrate. All of your work needs to be in complete sentences and make sense (read it out loud to catch errors). You can be as creative as you want, just make sure you have all the required pars. You will have three-ish days to complete this project. If you need more time than that or are absent, make plans to work on it at home or during zero block.
Your real name should not be anywhere on this project.

Today you are going to start your Invertebrate Fakebook Page, but first you need some information.
  1. The first thing you need to do is open a new folder on your number and name it "Marine Ecology."
  2. Next open a word document and save it in the Marine Ecology Folder. Name this document the name of your invertebrate. You are going to use this workspace to copy any useful links and website titles that you find. You can also use this page to paste important information, but realize that everything that goes on your fakebook page must be in your own words.
The first thing you need to know about your invertebrate is its scientific name. Scientific names are Latin and written in italics. This helps you distinguish exactly which species of an organism you are talking about. Once you have the Latin name, searching for information is a lot easier and you are more likely to get websites that are scientific and accurate.

Next you are going to gather information using books and websites. Please try to use the website I have linked above FIRST. Use google if you need to, but always search with the Latin names.

DO NOT VISIT INAPPROPRIATE WEBSITES. No YouTube or websites that have nothing to do with Marine Ecology. You will lose your computer privileges for the day (or for this project).
  • Find at least two websites with great information about your organism (where it lives, what it eats)
  • Find at least two great photos of your organism and save these photos onto your number in the Marine Ecology folder.
Now you are ready to start your Invertebrate Fakebook project.
  1. Go to the homepage. Click on the Gmail button and sign into your gtest email.
  2. The login for your gmail (if you have not changed it) is: Last-name First-Initial Middle-Initial so mine is JancaitisKT
  3. The password (if you have not already changed it) is: First-Initial Student-Number Last-Initial so mine would be K46311J
  4. In your email you should have an invitation to join Ning and the Invertebrate Fakebook Project.Follow the link.
  5. Put your invertebrate's name as the name, and put in one of those clear profile photos that you downloaded into your folder and get started.
  6. If you are to this point, then you need to see Miss J for the handout.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Echinoderm means spiny skin. Echinoderms include sea urchins, sea stars, sand dollars, sea cucumbers and some other odd organisms like feather stars and basket stars. All echinoderms have radial symmetry, spiny skin, and an endoskeleton called a test.

Most people are familiar with an orange sea star because on the east coast, that's all we've got. On the west coast and in other places around the world, it is easier to find a variety of sea stars in other colors and with different amounts of legs.

Sea stars have powerful tube feet that use water suction to open molluscs. When they eat molluscs, they actually stick their stomach into the shells of the mollusc, digest it, and then put their stomach

Sea cucumbers have lost most of their exoskeleton and are a bit squishier than other echinoderms. Sea cucumbers are important detritus eaters on the sea floor. When attacked by predators they will expel their guts as a meal for the predator as they make a get away. Sea cucumbers are able to regenerate these guts over time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Clam Antics and Finishing Molluscs

Most people do not know that there are freshwater clams and mussels in Lake Anna and that they can get as big as the palm of your hand. Nathan is doing his Governor's School project about some of the habitat in the lake and I has asked him to bring in some of these beauties so we could get a good look at them. With the help of his brother, Nathan brought in three little clams for us to enjoy in class.

I found that taking pictures of them in the cup was not easy, but using the document camera, I was able to project an up close view of them onto the wall so that everyone could see the clams and their siphons in detail. Students were able to watch the clams in action while taking their practical. Now that may seem like an oxymoron - clams in action... but there was stuff to see.

You could clearly see the siphons and at times see particles being sucked into the siphons. I put some fish food in the cup and the suction power of the clams was enough to create a current that caused the fish flakes to swirl around in the top of the cup. In first period we were able to watch one of the clams use its foot to dig into the sand to sit upright with its siphons up.

While this was projected on the wall, students took their practical test on their knowledge of shells. Here, Jacob confidently identifies a mollusc. Students should be proud of the amount of information that they have been able to remember. Next time they go to the beach they will be amazed by how much they know!

Today students practiced mollusc anatomy and retook that portion of their test. Students also discussed phyla and how many arthropods (bugs) are all over the world and started learning about crustaceans - arthropods that live in the ocean.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mollusc Test and Shell Bingo

Students started class with a quick true-false assessment on molluscs. Students excelled at this and did well. Then students worked with peers at their table on three-way-matching, matching words, definitions, and pictures.

Students took their Unit 4 Mollusc test and worked on a shell crossword. We finished the class with three rounds of shell bingo so students could practice identifying shells.

On Monday students will take their Unit 4 Practical where they need to be able to identify shells, that molluscs adaptation, and some structures.

Students who were absent on Friday will take the test on Monday and take the practical Tuesday or Wednesday during zero block.

Students are reminded that if they are not feeling well and are not in school, they should call the school and request work to be picked up and worked on at home.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Slimy Slug antics

In class today students are looking at a variety of my shell jewelry and trying to identify the shells that the peices are made of. In first period, Cassandra and Kendra rocked the contest. In fourth period, Kevin, Dale, Caleb, and Brittany rocked it.

Caleb and Brittany were overhead one peice of jewelry made of paua shell (also known as abalone, example pictured to the right). Caleb said, "none of these shells are this colorful! Is this its natural color?" When I affirmed that it was the natural color, Brittany H said, "Why do these animals have to be so creative?" The abalone get their pretty inner shell color from their seaweed diet.

After testing that knowledge, they looked at interpretive cartoons and idenitfied which mollusc is being represented. They matched molluscs with their adapations and worked on review sheets. Any work not completed in class was assigned as homework.

Tomorrow students have their Unit 4 Test and on Monday they will have a practical examination.

Today first period got a close up look at the Limax maximus and their slimy mollusc bodies. They looked at the tentacles (eyespots and sensory tentacles) and the hole they breathe through. First period was a bit more adventurous in holding and touching slugs (which was optional)- with more than fifty percent participation. Pictured to the right is a slug crawling hand-off from Becca to Jay.

Slugs can be considered gross because of the copious amounts of mucus they leave behind. The mucus helps them get a better grip on surfaces and helps prevent dessication, drying out. It can also make the slug more difficult to pick up by predators. More information about slugs can be found here.

Maria with an S found the slugs particulary entertaining. (And she didn't even know about Albert's slug mustache from yesterday!)

Computer Lab Etiquette

You are in the computer lab to do work for this class. If you are not doing work, then we will have problems.

Do not pack up early. Work until the bell or until MsJ says.

SAVE OFTEN. And if you save to a key, also save it to your number. If you lose it, you will have to do it again.

If MsJ asks for your attention, stop what you are doing and listen to what she has to say.

You may watch videos about your organism through reliable websites.

You may listen to music through the computer if you have your own headphones. Rule1 MsJ cannot hear it. You get one warning. Rule2 Turn it on and listen – no million clicks and constant changing. Take both ear phones out when MsJ is talking.