High School Biology-Chemistry SMILE Meeting
06 November 2001
Notes Prepared by Porter Johnson

Announcement:  2002 Summer Institute in Biology:  Teaching in the Genome Age [http://www.woodrow.org/]

The Leadership Program for Teachers (LPT) of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, is pleased to invite applications to the 2002 Summer Institute in Biology. The Institute, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will take place on the campus of The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The school offers some excellent, modern science facilities and a spacious, beautiful campus.

Dates for the Biology Institute: July 7 - August 3, 2002

This year's institute will focus on the issue of Genomics in science. Topics that will be explored within Genomics are the DNA learning experience (hands-on training); gene therapy; ethical decision-making; and the role of technology in this area of science. A complete program syllabus will be available to participants prior to their arrival on campus.

Karlene Joseph (Lane Tech HS, Biology) A Measuring Activity
This activity is based on a fairly recent exercise in SMILE Physics. The idea is, like Galileo in his inclined plane experiments, to invent our own system of units.  She passed out a thin dowel about 6 inches or 15 cm in length.  The length of the stick is defined  as one unit, and for reasons of personal gratification Karlene named hers one Joseph --- abbreviated as Jo. Karlene made this stick into a ruler, and used it to estimate units to the nearest 0.1 Jo, or tenth of Joseph.  Other distances could be expressed in terms of Josephs; for example, 1 my-unit 1.4 Jo.

We then measured the lengths, widths, and diameters for other shapes, expressing the answers in Jo.

As an aid to measurement, Karlene had us hold our sticks at an angle across ruled notebook paper, so that one end was on a line, and the other end was lying exactly ten lines below it. We then marked the stick at each place where it crossed a line.  This divided the stick into 10 equally spaced intervals, and we thus obtained a deci-Joseph (de-Jo) ruler. We then repeated the measurements described above, thereby estimating lengths with a precision of hundredths of a Joseph, or centi-Jo.

Next we calculated the areas of a rectangle, triangle, trapezoid, and circle, and expressed the answers in square-Josephs, or Jo2.  What a beautiful set of mind-opening ideas for our students!

Erma Lee (Williams School) Solar System
Erma said that this lesson had been done with 6th and 7th graders.  She began with a poster of the solar system, showing the locations of the sun and the planets.  Each group of two people was given a string and some beads, and they made a necklace with the beads and string, indicating the proper order for the sun and planets, using pre-printed labels to place between each bead "planet".  The planets were ordered in increasing distance from the sun.

She also presented a puzzle called Search for the Solar System, like the following one, which contains the names of all nine planets in the solar system:

M E R C U R Y *
A U * * * V * *
R R * J * E * *
S A T U R N * *
* N * P L U T O
* U * I * S * *
* S * T * * * *
* * * E * * * *
* E A R T H * *
N E P T U N E *

She also showed the following image showing the relative sizes of the planets:

Source:  http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/astronomy/.

Some excellent space photos may be found on the websites: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo  and http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/Pictures.html.  Very interesting, Erma!

Notes taken by Ben Stark.