Animal Sounds and Elmhurst Hospital, NYC

Hi, everyone. I hope you all are enjoying your Thursday. The weather is absolutely gorgeous right now and I hope it’s the same where you are. We have a shorter post today, but still just as informative as the rest. Enjoy today’s resources.

MARINE BIOLOGY
Science Friday is a radio show on NPR produced by WNYC in New York City. One of their recent bits included a quiz: Name That Call: Test Your Animal Sound Trivia.

COVID-19
It’s always good to have a refresher on how to stay safe during these times. Please read and take it completely seriously. Dr. Colleen Smith is an emergency room doctor at Elmhurst Hospital in New York City. Watch and hear her first-hand account of working in a hospital in the hardest hit city in the United States thus far. This is exactly what the Italians warned us about. In fact, as of right now, New York State has nearly 47% of all the cases in the entire country and one-third of all deaths. It’s only a matter of hours before the U.S. overtakes Italy in the number of COVID cases.

#flattenthecurve,
Mr. Noondi

Oldest Ancestor and Prince Charles

Happy Wednesday to everyone. Quite of few developments in the COVID world along with some interesting news regarding Marine Biology. Enjoy today’s resources.

MARINE BIOLOGY
Geologists at UC, Riverside have discovered something quite remarkable: the oldest common ancestor of all animal life. Living 555 million years ago on the ocean floor, it was the first organism that we know of with bilateral symmetry, having a front and back, as well as a digestive tract between two openings. Squids have now been seen to be able to edit their own RNA after it has left the nucleus. They do so through tweaking of their highly developed nervous systems. Another piece of evidence of how cephalopods are so intelligent. Finally, a quick little video about ocean floor-dwelling garden eels.

COVID-19
Updated case and death numbers can be found here and here. After much debate, the U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a historic stimulus package to hopefully dampen the effects of the virus outbreak. The deal includes direct payments to Americans, increased unemployment benefits, money for states, and a large bailout fund for businesses. COVID has reached the British royal family as Prince Charles has tested positive. Remember that even teenagers are not necessarily immune to the coronavirus. An L.A. County resident under the age of 18 passed away after contracting COVID.

#flattenthecurve,
Mr. Noondi

Beaches Closing

Sorry for the late post. Along with you all, I am learning how to transition to the WFH life. Hopefully day by day, we are all getting more comfortable. Enjoy your daily resources.

MARINE BIOLOGY
None for today. Stay tuned tomorrow.

COVID-19
I was introduced to this sleeker, more interactive COVID-19 case count website from Johns Hopkins University. It’s a very nicely made website and lets you interact with the data by looking at a world map. The downside is that it is not very mobile friendly. If you are on your phone, stick to the old one that we’ve been using. Some unfortunate local news here in San Diego County: much of San Diego County’s beaches, bays, lakes, boardwalks, and trail are now or will soon be closed. This is yet another consequence of what happens when social distancing isn’t actively practiced. The good news: Coronado’s are still open. Finally, Wake Forest University put together a COVID video FAQ geared directly toward high school students.

#flattenthecurve,
Mr. Noondi

The Hoff Crab and Less COVID-19 Cases

Hi, everyone. Welcome to a new week. I hope that at this point you are transitioning to our new lives and becoming more comfortable with your routine, or, at least finding a routine that works for you. Here is today’s update with developments that occurred over the weekend.

MARINE BIOLOGY
Animals that live in hydrothermal vent ecosystems must be highly adapted to their environment. Given the high temperatures, extreme pressures, and a variety of chemicals, the animals are very unique. This includes the Hoff crab, a crab named after David Hasselhoff, because of… well, I’ll let you guess why.

Natural History Museum, London: Life at hydrothermal vents
NatGeo: Deep-sea creature incubates eggs on hydrothermal vents
BBC: ‘Hoff crab’ gets formal scientific name
Bonus: Phys.org: Microplastics found in a quarter of San Diego estuary fish

COVID-19
Worldwide, cases continue to rise exponentially, but there is good news. Both the number of cases and deaths have decreased in Italy, arguably the hardest hit country by the pandemic thus far. Is this a sign of things to come or just a blip on the radar? Switzerland has also seen a similar trend. A very interesting scientific development is that some scientists have observed many COVID-19 patients lose their sense of smell. It could be another indicator that a person is infected. Canada and Australia have pulled out of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. More to come? San Diego-based 1,000-bed USNS Mercy is docking in Los Angeles to aid non-coronavirus patients in the events that hospitals get overwhelmed. Beach and park parking lots owned by the City of San Diego are now closed. Don’t let the parks in your town close by and practice social distancing.

#flattenthecurve,
Mr. Nandi

Deep-Sea Mining and Border Closures

Happy Friday. We’ve made it through Week 1. Congrats! I hope these daily updates will be helpful for you all. I certainly will enjoy typing them as we continue to power through. Please use these resources as you see fit for yourself, your students, or your own children.

MARINE BIOLOGY
Hydrothermal vents and the ocean floor are sources of minerals with the potential of having high economic value. In recent months, much debate has occurred between engineering, biologists, and environmentalists about the benefits and pitfalls of practicing such techniques. Land-based resources are quickly being depleted, so some are turning to the ocean to find those same resources.

MIT: Mining the Deep Sea
Verge Science: Your future tech may rely on deep-sea mining
David Attenborough: Ban deep-sea mining
The Atlantic: History’s largest mining operation is about to begin

COVID-19
Worldwide cases and deaths continue to rise. Remember when I first showed you this site in class almost two weeks ago, the total number of cases was approximately 113,000. Look at the numbers now. Here in my home state, Gov. Gavin Newsom initiated a stay-at-home order, the first in the country to do so on a state-wide basis. The U.S. borders with both Canada and Mexico will be closed to non-essential travel midnight on Saturday. Finally, know that the New York Times is providing free access to its coronavirus news.

#flattenthecurve,
Mr. Noondi

COVID-19 UPDATE

To my readers and future readers,

Exactly one week ago, I was in my classroom with my students. Everything was running as normal even as major sporting events, tournaments, and events were canceled around the United States. That Monday, March 9th, I had discussed the SARS-CoV-2 virus with my students and the inevitable severity of it. Vox did a phenomenal job highlighting the origin of the virus and how it spread so rapidly. At that time, nobody was taking it seriously (unfortunately, some still aren’t). Yet, here we are. This is absolutely a historical moment in the history of humanity. Yes, there have been pandemics that have killed more people, but the COVID-19 outbreak is nowhere near finished. And the sheer economic toll that is occurring could be extremely damaging to the livelihoods of many people. This event has affected virtually every single person in the world. This is a time for transition, adaptability, and collaboration. So, please, #stayhome and #flattenthecurve.

My district, of course, is closed, and may not open for the rest of the year. It pains me to even think that I won’t see my students again this year, but it what we must do. In the meantime, I will be posting daily updates on mrnoondi.com, something that is long overdue. I will be sharing my general thoughts and, most importantly, science and COVID-19 resources that you or your children can explore during these troubling times. For today, I will post the daily update that I give to my students on PowerSchool with a focus on Marine Biology and good news surrounding COVID-19.

“Make sure that you’re getting good rest and eating well. Hopefully, you’ve found some time to stay physically active, too. Here are your daily resources to enjoy. Hydrothermal vents are an amazing type of ecosystem found at the most extreme depths of the ocean. They are fissures in the ocean floor near volcanically active areas, so black or white smoke billows out from below. It allows for a very unique ecosystem to thrive. In COVID news, the shutdown of many societies has allowed nature to rebound very quickly.”

#flattenthecurve,
Mr. Noondi

MARINE BIOLOGY
Deep-sea vent chemistry
Giant black smoker hydrothermal vent
How giant tube worms survive at hydrothermal vents
The deep-sea find that changed biology
Hydrothermal vents and global climate

COVID-19
Coronavirus Case Count
Watch the footprint of coronavirus spread across countries
Air pollution and CO2 fall rapidly
Swans and dolphins in Venice, Italy canals

2018 SCIENCE FAIR

Hi, everyone! Happy Sunday. I hope you are all having a restful and productive weekend thus far. Tomorrow, Monday, March 5th will be the official launch of the 2018 Science Fair season for all of my classes. On that day, all four of my classes will have started their projects that will be presented on April 23rd during a collaborative Science Fair and Earth Day celebration. This week, I reflect and discuss on the four projects that my students are currently engaged in. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions or comments!

6th Grade – Endangered Species Tour

My 6th Grade Science Fair project was inspired by a trip I took in January 2017 to Biomuseo in Panama City. More specifically, I was inspired a very simple exhibit, The Gallery of Biodiversity, that was composed of various plaques with details of various species of their conservation status. Their status was color coded so that warmer colored plaques (reds and oranges) were more threatened of extinction while cooler colors (yellows and greens) were less threatened or not at all. While my students will not be doing a project reminiscent of this, like I said, it was certainly inspiration.

My students will be put into groups of 3 or 4 and assigned a country widely known to have a high abundance of endangered species. From there, they will research six IUCN listed species whose range includes their assigned country. Students main source for research will be the wonderfully informative World Wildlife Fund. They will record information such as the conservation status, life cycle, diet, adaptations, reasons for population decline and efforts meant to combat those trends.

Additionally, they will also do some basic research on the country assigned to them. They will take note of average climate throughout the year, cultural sights, sounds, and smells, and travel requirements for U.S. citizens.

The final product will blend their animal and country research together in the form of a travel agency promoting an eco-tour of the regions in which their endangered animals can be found. For the science fair, students will advertise and market their tours to the audience using Google’s Tour Builder and advertisement flyers designed on the web-based tool, Canva.

7th Grade – Sustainable Cities

Sustainable Cities is an engaging project in which students are a mixture of urban planner, engineers, and ecologists. After an in-depth review of non-renewable and renewable energy sources, students are put into the role of designers of a brand new sustainable city development. Now in my third run of facilitating this project with 7th graders, I have decided to add some new collaborative elements special to this year’s science fair. After a productive discussion with my science teaching parter, who teacher the other half of 7th grade, we decided to form a collaborative dynamic between the two classes. My teaching partner’s class is currently preparing for the science fair by conducting group research and experimentation on various earth science topics (glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc). My groups of students will be assigned various country in which their sustainable city will be developed thereby limiting their options on which types of energy sources they can use. For example, students based in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona will have a wonderful time utilizing solar energy but have a harder time utilizing hydropower. Those based, say, in the Olympic Peninsula will see virtually the opposite. Starting tomorrow, groups from either class will be paired together dependent on both group’s country / earth science assignment. The group assigned to research glaciers will be paired with my group who has been assigned Iceland as their home country due to the high presence of glacial features in the country. Those based in Guatemala will partner up with the group researching volcanoes and earthquakes because of the abundance of such phenomena in the Central American country.

For the science fair, groups will build a model city (think scaled down to humans = Godzilla) highlighting both their measures to become 100% sustainable along with the geological and topographical features found in that world region.

10th Grade – Genetic Diseases

After some stressful (for the students) lessons and a big test on Mendelian genetics, my 10th graders are ready to begin their science fair projects. I was having a tough time developing ideas for a project, but a quick discussion with my teaching partner put me in the right direction. My inspiration for this project initially came from the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) book series, believe it or not. Students are in groups of three and have been assigned a set a five chromosomes found in the human body. The first step for them is to read the chapters respective of their chromosome assignment of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. The book beautifully breaks down each of the 23 chromosomes in detailed, scientifically-accurate chapters. Second, students will the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Chromosome Map to discover what diseases could result from either inheritance or mutations on each assigned chromosome. While the plan is still very much in the early stages, students will create a CYOA-type presentation to engage the audience of the science fair. The audience will be provided a healthy chromosome in which they are then presented with multiple scenarios to choose from. Depending on which route they choose, they could end up with a mutation that encodes for a specific disease found on that chromosome. From there, and if the disease is contracted, they are then to decide how to proceed with each step providing multiple scenarios to choose from. When will I see a doctor? How is the disease diagnosed? What treatment or medicine do I need to take? What are the side effects of that treatment? What happens if I do not treat the disease? Students will be given the choice of how to present the CYOA story to give them some extra freedom.

11th/12th – 3D Printed Inventions

I have already had a recent blog post discussing this project so there aren’t really any new updates as of yet. Students will continue to design, redesign, and redesign again until their product is just right. This week, they will start to work on their strategies to market their product including product names, logos, and social media.

3D PRINTED INVENTIONS

The last two weeks, I have taken a huge risk in teaching and implementing a project in which I have very little expertise in, yet much interest in. 3D printing is a technology that was invented by a man with the name Chuck Hull. In the 35 years since the machine was first introduced, the technology has come a long way – to say the least. In fact, the amount of different types of materials in which filaments are now made from is unreal. Plastic. Glow in the dark. Nylon. Wood. Bronze. Magnetic iron. It’s both crazy and extremely functional as the same time! My students and I currently work with a very basic, beginner $220 model – the Monoprice Select Mini. It’s nothing fancy, can only print as big as a 4.25″ square, and works best with the standard PLA or ABS filaments, but it gets the job done for us. For a little sneak preview, this week I am going to show you some of the incredible design sketches of my students’ inventions or product design enhancements (I’ve cropped the photos to ensure complete privacy). The products will eventually be 3D printed to display and discuss the design process from draft one to the final draft at this year’s science fair. Enjoy!

The Filtrangle

Being in Guatemala, fresh, clean drinking water is very difficult to come by – particularly in the rural areas. My students were inspired by this and designed The Filtrangle (working name). It is designed to capture water vapor, mist, and fog through the fine mesh sides of the triangular prism. From there, the water condenses and gravity pulls it down to the water filter. From there, the water is stored in another section in which a valve is attached for obtaining the water. A test print was done this week and some minor adjustments are necessary such as adding finer mesh and leveling of the triangular prism.

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The Ice Maker: Redesigned

This group of students were inspired by the never ending battle of standard ice cube trays confidently dropping ice on the floor when trying to obtain the cubes. The design uses an innovative cylindrical shape to minimize ice falling to the ground. The ice itself forms using the insert (seen on the right) that can easily be pull out from the cylinder. In this way, the user can remove only the amount of ice that he/she needs. A first prototype print was done this week and we noticed that the circumference of the cylinder was way too small. The students are back to the drawing board to fix the issues.

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3D Printed Ribcage

Probably the most complex and innovative design of the class is the 3D printed ribcage. This design is meant to be utilized for those who have recurring ailments related to the sternum or ribcage. While a non-functional prototype will be all that is printed, the final product is meant to be expandable so that it can grow with the person who possesses it. As it expands, locking mechanisms prevent the sternum and ribs from contracting back to a previous size. This design will specifically take much more focus and creativity from the students to make functional. They expect they will need to order additional components on Amazon to ensure that the expandable design functions properly.

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BEST ONLINE STORES FOR SCIENCE LAB EQUIPMENT

Hey, everyone! This week, I will be discussing what I think are the four best online stores for purchasing science lab equipment of all types. I have experience working with and/or purchasing from all four companies in either an educational or industrial setting. Enjoy!


Most Universal: CAROLINA BIOLOGICAL SUPPLY COMPANY

Probably the most well-known and certainly the most universal is Carolina Biological Supply Supply. Commonly referred to as just Carolina in the science education community, the most enticing aspects of the company are their prices and their availability of resources from virtually all science disciplines. I have personally purchased products from Carolina and, from personally experience, do not let the price deceive you. Their products are great quality. My purchases include simple Eppendorf tubes (which are really hard to produce low quality), forensics tools, and specimens for dissection. Educators can even purchase live organisms, if need be! Categories of live organisms on the site include animals, insects, fungi, prokaryotes, plants, protists, and protists. Since handling and shipping live organisms has strict regulations, Carolina was smart enough to include regularly updated USDA permits to stay compliant with local and federal laws. The company even offers products for distance learning “with more than 190 hands-on investigations” available for purchase. This is perfect for those homeschool teachers or students taking online classes.

Carolina also benefits the international education community. Living in Guatemala makes finding quality laboratory resources rather difficult to find. Even if you do, the materials are not cheap. I personally have communicated with Carolina representative of Guatemala for purchasing equipment and their boundaries extend across the entire globe!

Carolina Biological Logo


Most Specialized: BIO-RAD LABORATORIES, INC.

The next on the list, Bio-Rad Laboratories, is a supply company that specializes in the life sciences. I only have one purchasing experience from Bio-Rad, but the quality was superb! Back in 2014, I bought the pGLO Bacterial Transformation Kit for my 11th Grade Biology class. pGLO is a green fluorescent protein (GFP) that is actually trademarked by Bio-Rad themselves. The premise of the lab is that E. coli cells are innoculated with a plasmid containing the GFP that was originally isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. Having never conducted the lab previously, I was definitely a little nervous that it would not work. Lo and behold, virtually all of my lab groups had a successful E. coli transformation! This clearly shows that Bio-Rad’s products are certainly of high quality. Bio-Rad also offers products for clinical diagnostics, spectroscopy, and, most uniquely, food science!

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Most Professional: FISHER SCIENCE EDUCATION

I have not had any personal experience with Fisher Scientific in an educational setting but rather in a professional setting. When I worked as a research assistant studying the ecology of fungal endophytes at the University of Arizona, there was plenty of Fisher Scientific equipment in the lab. As with most science equipment in academia and industry, it was of the highest quality.

The Fisher Scientific Education website offers products for the scientific disciplines of biology, biotechnology, chemistry, physics, and earth and environmental sciences. If you are looking for higher quality products, if you or your school can afford it of course, then this is your stop! Possibly the best perk of the site is its Education LabOutfitter. This tool is best used for those who are either homeschooling students or working at a new school who is on the search for supplies. The LabOutfitter creates recommended product lists that is customizable by many different categories including grade level, subject, and class size! A great place to start if you are in this situation and at a loss of where to go.

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MOST AFFORDABLE: NEW ENGLAND BIOLABS, INC.

Based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, New England BioLabs (NEB) is by far my favorite on the list. At first glance, you may wonder why as it is chock full of products for applications that go way above level of the average middle or high school student. In fact, if a teacher does not have professional experience in some of these applications, it may go over their head, too! Right away you see that their product offerings are for tools such as genome editing, epigenetics, cloning, and glycobiology.

Where NEB shines is this – providing reagents and technical support to high school and collegiate teaching labs absolutely FREE. This is no joke. I have requested PCR reagents and enzymes and received them promptly and securely. The downsides to this opportunity is that (1) your classroom must be equipped with the correct equipment to use these reagents (think PCR machines and gel electrophoresis) and (2) the selection of free product is not open to their entire catalogue. The educational support request form is extremely simple to fill out. On the form, you need to provide basic shipping information, published protocols and procedures that your course will use, and which products you are requesting. The form does state that “requests for items not on the standard list will be considered, but will be delayed due to the need to review the request.” I have not yet had experience with this, but imagine it is not that difficult.

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Regards,

Mr. Noondi

THREE ENGAGING WEB RESOURCES FOR EDUCATORS

Happy Sunday, everybody! The forensic science presentations by my students were postponed slightly due to some various scheduling issues. The presentations officially happen tomorrow, Monday, January 28th. So, next Sunday’s blog post will be about the presentations. In the mean time read about some amazing web 2.0 tools and other possibly little known resources that you can utilize in your classroom!


The New York Times Learning Network

This one is my personal favorite for many reasons. Over the past year, I have learned to love integrating current events and journalism into my curriculum. I briefly discussed this in my post about our school’s interview with Sarah Koenig. The New York Times Learning Network is a resource that utilizes the brilliant reporting by the Times. Lessons plans are pre-made and neatly laid out for educators from all backgrounds to easily understand and implement. The blog is organized and easy to navigate. They put on regular student contests for students participate in. The current ongoing contest is their 5th Annual 15-Second Vocabulary Video Challenge! The blog has a section dedicated to categorizing the various activities available for students. Just below that are lessons plans separated into the various subjects (ELA, social studies, science and math, ELL and arts, and current events). This obviously comes in handy when you are looking for a quick lesson plan and have little time to spare for planning. You can also search the blog to find any teaching activities for a specific topic that has been archived. The Learning Network is, hands down, a fantastic resource for those educators who occasionally have little time for planning, need something authentic or meaningful, or who just wants to try something new!

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Buck Institute for Education (BIE)

The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) is an organization dedicated solely to the wonders of project based learning. The website houses a selection of materials for educators to be introduced to or strengthen their PBL knowledge. Available for readers are blogs, books, and articles to peruse. What may be even more helpful for you, though, are the variety of rubric, planning forms, and student handouts that are available to download for free on their site! These documents are highly professional and can be used in a multitude of subjects. Wether you are a beginner or a pro at PBL, these resources are sure to help you!

My personal favorite on BIE is the interactive project search. I practice PBL in my classroom everyday and when I am struggling with developing a project, I need some innovative ideas to spark my imagination. This is where the project search comes in. Here, you can search by source, subject, and level to find incredibly creative and authentic projects that your students can engage in.

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National Center for Case Study Teaching In Science

I came across this great site by linking through on BIE. Based at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, this site contains a vast library of case studies (721 to be exact!) from virtually all areas of science. The premise of the case studies is that students are introduced to an authentic scenario that could easily be present in the real world. From there, the students answer a series of questions in which there are to problem solve and critically think their way to the answer. This site probably provides the most realistic application of science than either BIE or The Learning Network. These case studies also come in handy when you are short on planning time and need an engaging, easy to understand activity. Just a note: If you sign up for an account to access the answer keys, you will need to prove that you are an educator at which time the organization will provide you with a password.

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