Monday, February 13, 2017

Play-Doh and Plasmids: Weekly Reflection for the Week of February 6th through February 10th

Weekly Standards: 4.2

How did you do on the work?
I feel as though I did pretty well on the work this week.  The main thing we were working on was our Play-Doh DNA project, in which we model the process of turning a DNA sequence into a protein using Play-Doh as our medium.  While at the beginning, Taylor and I were a little lost in figuring out where to start, once we started to build our molecules and take pictures, we quickly got into a groove. This week we also were responsible for completing the next vodcast, Vodcast 4.3, which was another three part video.  I really enjoyed this vodcast (despite the length) because I find the different biotechnologies super fascinating.

What do you think you understand well?
This week, the Play-Doh project in particular has helped me a lot in understanding the processing of DNA.  Because we were the ones building and moving everything, from the DNA nucleotides to the different enzymes used throughout the process, we needed to know exactly what they were and how they specifically functioned.  Because of this need for precise information, we had to delve deeper, so I feel like I have a much more solid grasp on the processes of protein synthesis.

Where do you think you could improve?
I definitely could improve by paying closer attention to the vodcasts.  Most of the time I end up rushing through them, so instead of fully processing the material, I end up just rush-writing my notes. While this does make the note taking process shorter, it makes completing the WSQ questions much more challenging and time-consuming.

What strategies will you use to improve?
In order to improve my note taking, I, first of all need to give myself more time to watch the vodcasts instead of trying to finish them as quickly as possible.  To add onto this, I will try pausing the video each time a new slide appears, so I can write down the information and then listen to what Mrs. Cole is saying, instead of rushing to write it all down while the video plays and missing all of the spoken information.  This will also allow me to jot down things that are mentioned verbally that are not necessarily on the notes.

How does the work we are doing fit into the context/narrative of this course?
The work we did this week, especially the last vodcast doesn't show just the basics of bio, teaching us how stuff works, or about experiments done decades ago.  This information is new, it's important, and it's constantly evolving.  This unit in particular is crazy relevant to our world, and the major research going on right now.  Who knows, maybe some of us will end up working in biotechnology.  The work we are doing right now in class has so much connection to what we could be doing if we decide to pursue biology in our future.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Diving into DNA: Weekly Reflection for the Week of January 30th through February 3rd

Weekly Standard: 4.1

How did you do on the work?
I feel as though it did well on the work this week.  We spent several class periods this week working on an argumentative project in which we were to determine whether or not a man, Jeff, who was claiming to be the long lost child of a family, was actually a part of that family based on what we have learned about the heritability of DNA.  I think I did well in this activity, and my group worked well to discuss the data we were given and reach a conclusion that we could support.  This week we also did Vodcasts 4.1 and 4.2 which went well.  I could answer most of the questions based on the vodcasts, although there were a few that I had to consult outside sources on.

What do you think you understand well?
I think I have a pretty solid grasp on DNA theory and the contents of Vodcast 4.1 discussing the reasoning and experiments that lead to the discovery of DNA and its structure.  I also feel like I understand the process of DNA transcription which made up the second part of Vodcast 4.2 pretty well, as the idea of the DNA being copied into RNA molecules makes sense to me.  I feel like for this function of DNA all of the pieces, such as the promoters and different enzymes make a lot of sense to me.

Where do you think you could improve?
I feel like I need to spend more time on the process of DNA replication, as that has been an area that I have never been super solid on, even way back in sophomore biology.  The two strands thing has always been a bit confusing to me, and although I understand the concept of the leading versus lagging strand and the differences that those cause in the replication process, I have trouble to visualize the process actually happening, and visualization is something that is important for my process of understanding and remembering information.

What strategies will you use to improve?
One thing that I can do to help me better understand the process of DNA replication is finding a video online that shows a simulation of the process. These types of videos are very helpful to me because they take all the words and information that I have in my head right now and give them an image to go along with, one that shows the movement through the cycle.

How does the work we are doing fit into the context/narrative of this course?
Our first unit this year was on evolution and the different mechanisms by which organisms evolve.  DNA is highly tied into the idea of evolution because it is certain genetic qualities that give certain organisms a leg-up over others.  Going deeper into this unit will give us a more in-depth understanding of not only the function of DNA inside ourselves and the life around us, but also in the greater scheme of populations and speciation.