Thursday, February 25, 2010


Seaweed is named by the dominant pigments - not by the dominant color, though they are related.

Red seaweed are found all over the ocean, dominate in the tropics and in deep water because they can tolerate low light.

Green seaweeds are the ones we are used to seeing because green seaweeds dominate in fresh water. They require the most sunlight of all seaweeds and are not found at depth.

Brown seaweeds are the most common in the saltwater of Virginia. They are the most common to find on beaches on the east and west coast.Seaweeds are flexible and often hold air bubbles to stay near the surface. Many seawweeds make gels so they don't dessicate (dry out) when the tide goes out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Plankton Grand Prix... it's go time!

Today we hooked the microscope up the document camera to get a better look at some of the plankton and I was unable to find any exciting zooplankton. I did set up an amazing slide for those who missed the observations on Friday and Stacey saw a daphnia lay its eggs. When I found it, it was brown on the inside and it pushed out all its brown eggs while Stacey was looking at it, so that when I saw it again, it was clear... AMAZING! You can see the Daphnia and its eggs where the arrow is pointing.

We started the Plankton Grand Prix today. So far Michelle is in first with Diamond Spike and 20.5 seconds, an awesome float and then sink strategy. Second place so far is Ethan with six seconds (his plankton is named Ethan too), but as they have been saying in the Olympics, we still have a lot of strong competitors to come! You can see Ethan and Courtney in the photo to the right. Races will be finished tomorrow and awards presented.

The funniest plankton so far was Stacey's plankton Fred, seen her with our current first place competitor Diamond Spike (in floating phase).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Plankton and Seaweed Observations

Today students learned about seaweed and the different types. Seaweed is classified based on pigment type and can be green, brown, or red. Most people are only familiar with green which is very common in freshwater. In the ocean, red is the most abundant, but on our shores, brown is the most common.

A lot of seaweed has air bladders to help it float towards the surface. Other important adaptations include flexibility and gels to stay hydrated when the tide goes out. Students observed samples of dried seaweed and also one fresh sample of green algae that I collected from the pond yesterday.

Students also did plankton observations from the pond sample and were able to find some very large clear zooplankton. One looked like a large worm and others were zooming around. Who knew that zooplankton were so active in icy February?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Trekking in the Snow... for Plankton?

Tomorrow we will be looking at pong plankton because I trekked through knee deep snow behind the school to the pond to collect a sample. Good thing I have my Peruvian Rubber boots and some fleece pants to keep me warm and dry! (notice how you cannot even see my boots... that's because they are covered in the snow!)Plankton pond sample? Yes the pond was frozen, but along the edges where the sun shine there was about a one foot gap where the water could be seen... and the plants and plankton were growing. I scooped two samples - one green and one mucky bottom water and tramped back through the snow up to the school. I got my workout today!


Today students reviewed concepts on plankton that they learned yesterday and got some new knowledge about plankton adaptations. Plankton are drifters and they actually sink... just really really slowly.

How to apply that knowledge? It's time for the Plankton Grand Prix. Each student designs a plankton to race and the point of the race is to be the slowest sinker. But... you have to start sinking within two minutes otherwise you are disqualified as a floater!

Students began work immediately. Some with clear ideas, some with no ideas, and I'll tell you it doesn't matter. The winner usually surprises me. Happy competing.Ashleigh and Victoria working on designs
Rick and VerendusStacey and Fred

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Testing and Begining Plankton

Today students came in, reviewed, and took the Unit Ecology Test. Justin and Rick were the first ones to complete the vocabulary puzzle and received beads for their efforts.

After completing the tests, we talked about plankton. There are three types of phytoplankton - cyanobacteria, diatoms, and dinoflagellates. Phytoplankton are a really important food source in the ocean because they are the only "plants" in the middle of the ocean where the seafloor is miles down.

Next we discussed zooplankton. Zooplankton are animal plankton (because they belong in the zoo). There are two types of zooplankton - meroplankton and holoplankton. Holoplankton are plankton for their whole lives. Meroplankton are only plankton for part of their lives. As they develop they will become part of the nekton or benthos.

The students worked on a challenge and had to match larval plankton forms with the adult forms. Many of the organisms change a lot - like this cone snail larvae. Ethan, Rick, Justin, Beth and maybe someone else only missed two, matching seven of the nine correctly. Congrats.

Check out this awesome website Beyond the Reef for more information about plankton and more meroplankton transformation pics. Tomorrow we will continue to discuss plankton and start the Plankton Grand Prix!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finishing up Unit 2

Students worked on review yesterday in class. They matched vocabulary terms, identified fish coloration types and definitions, and tried to sort out the differences between commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism. Most students did really well and there were interesting discussions about the interpreting the drawings.

Students will be taking their test when they return and will begin Unit 3 plants, plankton, and biomes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Days

Hope everyone is enjoying their snow days away from school.

Make sure you have completed your Unit 2 Review Sheet and that your entire Unit 2 packet is complete including the vocabulary on the first page and your fishies are colored on the last page.

You will have a Unit 2 Test when we return to school after a little bit of review. Make sure you are ready.
  • Examples of Mutualism (both benefit)
  • Examples of Commensalism (one benefits, one is unaffected)
  • Parasitism (one benefits, one is harmed - this is long term!) is ticks and you or lampreys and fish. Parasitism is different than predation because predation is quick and short term (but still +,-).

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.