Reflection - intro paragraph

Submitted by jmazzola on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 23:43

   Over the course of this semester in Biology 312, I feel that my overall approach to the class and my thinking are what was most changed. I do feel that some of this was obligatory because in general, at least with myself, my “how to approach this class” methodology has always changed with every class I’ve taken. However, each class taken is different from the other and thus, how the approaches and thinking change will be different as well. Additionally, I do believe my writing changed a little, but not to the same extent as what I’ve mentioned. These changes are the opposite of what I expected for this class, especially since it is titled “writing in biology”, but looking back through the semester these results make do sense now, and for the most part I am satisfied with them. 

Methods Project Reflection

Submitted by jgcahoon on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 19:25

The Methods Project was a project that I knew would challenge me off the bat. I had followed numerous methods before in my life, but I had created very few methods from scratch, especially one as detailed as replicating several photos of a specific organism. This project taught me how attention to detail is key in the sciences, as there are so many different variables, or ways in which an experiment can go slightly wrong. We saw this in my methods when the location of the letters on the picture were off, because I wasn’t clear enough in the methods. As I wrote this project, I found it easier to group everything into different paragraphs, and this became especially useful in my discussion when I group everything by factors. I remembered performing an activity in class that was like this, and it really helped the flow in my project. Overall, I personally enjoyed this project. Inkscape was annoying at times, but once when you got it to work, it was a breeze. I also enjoyed seeing what the replicate image someone else created looked like; it was a nice touch. 


Submitted by danielcosta on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:59

The impact that a snowstorm has on the hydrologic system of the area in which it falls is much larger than that of rain. This is to say that 20mm of snow will input water into the hydrologic system over a longer period of time than 20mm of rain will. It is a pretty intuitive concept. One hard rainstorm that produces 20mm of precipitate will make its way down to the soil and be soaked into the hydrologic system in the matter of two, maybe three days. When you think about a snowstorm that produces 20mm of precipitate, the snow stays on the ground for a longer peiod of time and is melted by the heat of the sun. The snow melts a little each day, soaking the soil over a loger period of time.

Final Reflection

Submitted by hamacdonald on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:47

Hailey MacDonald

Writing in Biology Final Relfection

Professor Brewer

December 12th 2017



            The first project we did this semester I found very difficult at first. I took far too many hours typing out the methods trying to make them as concise and replicable as possible only to find the replica of my figure to be a mess. I left out simple things and probably over explained other things. As frustrating as this was, it was the exact purpose of the methods project. So from a learning standpoint the project did exactly what it was intended to do. Teach us how important it is to specify every detail clearly when writing as a biologist. Aside from the insight gained from this project, I enjoyed it just because we got to go explore campus. It was a nice change of pace in the beautiful weather to be assigned a project that made me go find something that I found interesting and take a picture of it. Similarly it was fun to try and follow Taylor’s instruction and find his plant. It was like a game almost but with a lot more writing. I really enjoyed this first project.


            The proposal we felt a little bit more like we knew what we were doing after the methods project. Working in a group definitely was very helpful as often times one group member would catch something I wouldn’t or vice versa. Learning about the planarians and the many possible routes you could go for research with them was awesome. It was cool to be designing an experiment for once as a undergraduate student instead of always following someone else’s. Our group actually ended up getting voted to be the project the whole class did which was both really exciting and intimidating. It took us many extra hours of work perfecting our proposal to work for all the groups that wanted to do it. And also, it was nerve-wracking because if something didn’t work out the way we thought you felt responsible for everyone’s project. It ended up being very rewarding being chosen and was a new experience for all of us kind of leading a research experiment for a large group of people.


            This was my favorite part of the semester. At this point, we had done all of the leg work, spent many hours writing and rewriting the proposal, spent time in the lab measuring out planarians, and it was finally time to show off everything we did. Although it was somewhat tedious to maneuver Scribus, it ended up being a very user-friendly software. It was very cool to pick the layout and design this poster board to broadcast everything we had been doing all semester. It really tied together the whole semester and gave us insight into the process a scientist takes when working in research. I felt so proud once we had our final poster printed out. I can only imagine how a team of scientist would feel looking at their final work up on the poster and presenting it. It must be an awesome feeling after what could be years of work.


            Writing this reflection right now is putting this whole semester of writing projects into perspective for me. Although I did realize there was flow to the projects while we were going I did not realize exactly how perfectly these projects went from one to another. I really enjoyed doing a class where the projects all relate and flow from one to the next. It makes each individual one feel less daunting because there was a stepping stone from the last project. It also is very realistic because this is how it would be if we were to design a research proposal in real life. The final product was very rewarding. It was awesome to see all of my peers excited about their posters as well. Walking around the room everyone was very proud of their work and interested in everyone else’s. 

Ecology Assignment 6

Submitted by hamacdonald on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:13

Part A: Based on the data in the figure, what biological process is the most likely explanation for the patterns observed in panel A and for the one observed in panel B of the figure? Briefly explain. This should be fairly easy after the Tuesday 12/5 lecture.

The explanation for the patterns observed in panel A could be explained by Biomagnification. The graph is comparing amount of contamination at the varying trophic levels. Biomagnification is when higher amounts of contamination is found in higher trophic levels due to the consumption of organisms with contamination. The organisms on the top of the food pyramid would have the highest amount of contamination.

Panel B would be explained by bioaccumulation. The graph is only showing one individual organism and the increasing contamination over the span of its life. This makes sense because bioaccumulation occurs as the organism easts contaminants that cannot be excreted by the organism. Eventually the contamination builds up over time.

Part B: Suppose that for panel B, you only sample individuals from a single trophic level. To which trophic level do individuals in panel B belong? Briefly explain

This individual would be from trophic level 1 because the contaminant level is between 1-10 which matches as the trophic level one in Panel A. This individual would be a primary producer.

Part C: If a species in this food web must consume a largely carnivorous diet, which kinds of individuals would it need to hunt to have the lowest possible risk of exposure to the contaminants? Consider your entire data set. 

In order for a carnivore to eat organisms with the lowest risk of contamination it should eat organisms from the second trophic level. The contamination levels vary from 10-15. This way the carnivore gets the meat it requires while also consuming the lowest possible amount of contaminates. 

Boltwood Final Reflection

Submitted by hamacdonald on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:08

Hailey MacDonald, Boltwood Spruce Hills, Kate Masterson
This was my first semester with the Boltwood Project. I worked with the Spruce Hill

ladies and it was an awesome experience. Four women live at Spruce Hills Judy, Rosie, Nicky, and Barbara. They make our work there so very easy because they have such a lovely dynamic. Although they have varying degrees of abilities they all get along very well. No fighting over attention or arguing ever. For example, Judy and Rosie are very aware of social cues and what is going on while Barbara a little less so and Nicky the least. Instead of ever getting frustrated with her they all work together very well which was awesome to work with. We spent very little time diffusing anything and most of our time just having fun!

One group member I felt I got to know particularly was Rosie. Rosie enjoyed it when the group got together around the table but often enjoyed sitting at the couches too. Sometimes because of back pain and others I think she just enjoyed her alone time. Rosie is one of the highest function members of the group and as I stated previously she is very respectful of everyone in the house. Also everyone was respectful when she choose not to directly participate in the group activity. I would often ask her if she wasn’t at the table if she still wanted me to make her the craft the group was doing and she loved this. She was always very appreciative of whatever she made me and often times would tell me she was going to give it to her boyfriend. This makes me happy because I know it must be a good feeling for her to be able to give her boyfriend something and for him to get excited about it as well. I know he is likely very excited because we have had the pleasure of meeting David a few times now this semester and he loves just about any kind of craft.

One of my favorite memories this semester involves David. The last week we went to Spruce Hill we did a lot of Christmas themed stuff and he was over. He gets very excited about

anything we do and he was particularly loving decorating a Santa hat with his name on it. He had me and Kate create him a beard out of a paper plate and was going around pretending to be Santa Claus. It was awesome to see him make Rosie very happy. Especially because Rosie dropped the news on us that David proposed to her the weekend before we came! Everyone was very happy for Rosie and it was awesome to see the two of them getting into the Holiday Spirit.

Another fond memory I have from this semester involved a different holiday, Halloween. Aside from Judy who deems Halloween solely a kids holiday, it was awesome to see how much the rest of them got into the Halloween Spirit. Nicky, I think was the most excited as her mom made her an adorable homemade cheerleading outfit. She was showing off her dancing skills to us before she left for the Halloween dance.

The biggest challenge I’d say we struggled with this semester was trying to find activities or games that kept everyone actively involved. As I said earlier, the ability level varied in the house which made some activities too difficult for some or too easy for others. The hardest was finding a balance between something Judy would want to do and something Nicky could do. I think Kate did a great job at having many options for us at the ready so if someone wasn’t liking what we were currently doing, typically Judy, we could offer her something else to do. Often this would be creating a necklace or coloring.

The only times I’d ever felt uncomfortable at Spruce Hills was when sometimes negative topics come up. For example, Rosie once began talking about the death of her father which triggered Judy to think about her parents dying. Judy began talking into some depth about death and other things surrounding this. I think it was important to let them vent about what they were feeling but not letting them get too caught up in the negative thoughts. So we discussed it for a little while and then directed the conversation differently.

I thought we had a lot of good activities this semester. One of my favorites was the decorating of the frames we did the last week at Boltwood. One thing everyone in the group seems to enjoy is painting which made this activity perfect. We took a picture the week before with everyone all dressed up on Rosie’s birthday before they went to the dance and it came out adorable! I think it’s a sweet idea because not only is it fun for them to make themselves but they can be reminded of the fun we had over winter break and before we see them again next semester. Another activity that we did often was Bingo. This is something Judy particularly loves. And while Nicky finds it hard to keep up she always had someone by her side to help out. Similarly, everyone loved playing the dice game. It always seemed to give Judy a confidence boost and make her day whenever she won one of these two games. She loved played them with us.

I think Spruce Hill was very lucky this semester because not only were the participants awesome and always maintained a positive attitude, so were the volunteers. Everyone got along very well and was always making jokes and having fun. I think this was half the reason I loved going so much because everyone was so laid back and just wanted to make every week as fun as possible for the participants. Something I really loved which Kate always initiated was rose and thorns we would play in the car every time. This was a fun way to reflect on the week and if you were in a bad mood talk about what that week might of put you in that bad mood or if you have some good news to share it with everyone. It was a fun way to start every car ride and get everyone talking about what’s going on in their lives.

One suggestion I can think of for Boltwood would be making a presentation of every site like a small video or something that depicts what goes on at each place. I think this would be useful when people apply to the program so they get a better idea of what exactly they are going

to be doing and if they would be a good fit. Not only that but it’s a good way to show everyone what other people at Boltwood are doing. Personally, I am very curious about what the other sites look like and I would love to see all the fun stuff everyone is doing with their participants. It could also be a good way to bring the best ideas from all the different sites together. Maybe one semester they could find one or more people from each site willing to make this as a final project and offer them an extra credit or two. 

Young's double slit

Submitted by kmydosh on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 13:57

Young's double slit experiment is a demonstration that light can display characteristics of both waves and particals. In this basic experiment, a light source, such as a laser beam, is shone through two slits. The nature of light to act as a wave causes the light to appear on a screen in a pattern. The pattern is repeating light and dark bands. The laser must hit both slits so they are very close together. The slits are roughly the same distance as the wavelength of the light from the laser. When the light hits the slits not all of the light gets through. When the light wave encounter the slit they spread out. This phenomanom is call diffraction. These two light wave overlap. Where they overlap constructivly there is a light spot and where they overlap destructively there is a dark spot. The light waves align constructivly in a line and this is what creates the diffraction pattern. At the center bright spot the path length of the light is 0. This is because the light traveled the same distance to the center from the two slits. At the next bright spot the light waves are traveling one wavelength further from one slit so x is equal to lambda. At the third bright spot, the distance in pathlength is 2 lambda. This continues so on and so forth until the spots of light are too far from the source of the light and the light particles are too dispersed to be seen. 

Extension of Child Dev Essay 2

Submitted by cberg on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:30

A second theory I discussed in my essay discussed the extent of how varied parenting styles are. The theory directly related to the episode of Nanny 911 because the two parents had nearly opposite styles of raising their children. I mentioned many examples of the contrast between the mother and father. An additional instance of the contradiction was seen when the father would get the children riled up and energetic in the morning and then leave for work. In response to their energetic and often inappropriate misbehavior, their mother would make gentle and passive attempts at getting the children to obey her throughout the day. When their father returned at night the children would begin getting stern and assertive punishments in response to their actions. The inconsistent pattern of parenting throughout their daily schedule confused the children and no improvements to behavior were ever made. This theory and example to support it demonstrate how important it is that children have a clear set of rules and understanding of specific consequences they will receive if the rules aren’t followed. The theory applies to every family with young children, as well as social organizations such as schools. It is important that teachers within a school have a standard method of responding to misbehaviors from their students, so that young children are receiving consistent consequences and are able to develop and understanding of which behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors are not. 

elevator speech

Submitted by danielcosta on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:00

An organism’s ability to acclimate to its environment is a key factor in ensuring its survival. Especially in today’s day and age with the ever-changing effects that global temperature increase has on environments and the organisms that live there, it is important to be able to acclimate quickly. Planarians are known to be photophobic organisms and express discomfort when under intense light. In our experiment, we tested the rate of acclimation of planarians to different intensities of light. We accomplished this by placing a food source, liver, in one half of a petri dish with light shined right above it, illuminating only the area near the liver. We placed the planarians near the liver and recorded their behaviors, running 3 separate trials for a duration of 5, 10, and 15 minutes. We used 3 different lumens of light intensity and ran a control group with no light. We hypothesized that the higher the intensities of light would cause the planarians to exhibit photophobic responses at a faster rate and that it would take them more time to acclimate to the light, if they acclimated at all. 

Extension of Child Dev Essay

Submitted by cberg on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:22

One of the theories I discussed in my essay was Gordon Neufeld’s theory in the article The Collapse of Parenting. In the article, Neufeld theorizes that parents in our country have become more lenient while raising their children, and are more prone to asking their children to do things rather than telling their children to do things. He suggests that the trend occurs because parents feel they will get resistance if they approach their children with demands. However, he also theorizes that this approach has a negative impact on our children’s behavior. Neufeld argues that acting as a child’s equal or inferior will naturally cause the child to feel less cared for and will encourage the child to assume an alpha role in the relationship he or she has with the parent. There are a few additional examples from this episode of Nanny 911 which support Neufeld’s theory. Firstly, the mother often asks her children to share their toys or candy with each other. Because she requests a behavior rather than demanding one, the children fail to cooperate. In fact, they completely ignore their mother because they feel superior to her after receiving requests rather than commands or rules. A second example of this concept is seen when the children misbehave physically. When Theron hits Sheersa, the mother asks him to apologize to his sister. Not only does Theron not comply with the request, but exhibits an even worse response by screaming “NO!” at his mother. This is a clear example of the child feeling as though he has the alpha position in his relationship with his mother. 


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