Photosynthesis may seem like an easy topic, based on what you learned in middle school. But, as we go a little deeper into the processes of how Plants chemically create glucose from a gas, a liquid, and sunlight we find that it is a whole lot more interesting and complicated.

Below is a graphic organizer to show the parts of the chloroplast (where photosynthesis takes place), the reactants, the products, and the important molecules involved in both the Light & Dark Reactions.


Light Reaction

  • Light & Water enter the Thylakoid (or granum)
  • Oxygen is released as a byproduct
  • In the process, NADPH and ATP are charged and carry energy to the Dark Reactions.

Dark Reactions

  • The ATP and NADPH, combined with Carbon Dioxide, create Glucose.
  • The leftover NADP+ and ADP go back to the light reaction.

Climate Challenge

Today we’ll be covering human impacts on the environment and discussing the ecological case studies we read about last week.  We’ll cover several topics including:

  • Acid Rain
  • Ozone layer depletion
  • Mass Extinction
  • Depletion of Natural Resources/Destruction of habitat
  • Climate Change
  • Invasive Species

After that, we’re going to play a game courtesy of the BBC. The game is called “Climate Challenge” and basically you get to run a country that is facing the threat of global climate change head on. You’ll have to balance protecting the earth, your citizens, and your job! Use the link below to reach the game (*note, if you are using a iOS device you will need to view this using the puffin app). Good luck, have fun, and learn something!

Climate Challenge – The Game


So now we know that ecology isn’t just the study of the environment… its studying the interactions between living things and the abiotic and biotic factors of their habitat. Today, we’re going to focus in a little bit more on the relationship between different biotic factors in an ecosystem. These relationships all fall under the category of something called interdependence. Hopefully that rings some bells for you because that was one of the themes of biology & characteristics of life we talked about at the beginning of the year! Interdependence is the idea that every living things relies on other living things one way or another. So lets take some time to dive into these different relationships and understand the concepts behind the interconnectedness. Please watch the video below, take notes, ask questions, and be prepared to discuss the different types of relationships and how living things are connected.

What did a T-Rex Taste Like?

trexWhat did a T-Rex Taste Like? ⇐ Click the Link

Believe it or not, we actually have was of finding this answer despite the fact the Tyrannosaurus Rex has been extinct for over 65 million years. We can determine a T-Rex features, including taste, using similar features (which we now know are called homologous structures). shared with animals the T-Rex is closely related to.

Recall that yesterday we learned that the more features you have in common, the higher the probability that you share a common ancestor/DNA (the exception would be convergent evolution where two species become increasingly similar despite the fact the originated from different ancestors). So what we can do is plot relatedness, based on characteristics, on a graphic called a cladogram, like the one shown here.

So Today, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing, using the link at the top of this post, you’ll follow the steps to learn how cladograms are created, organized, and what the different branches of it mean. By the time you are through, you will know what it tastes like to bite into a big fat dino-burger!

Evolution Simulations

Since evolution cannot occur before our eyes in a class period, today we’ll be ‘simulating’ evolution with a game and a simulator. For each, their are directions and questions you must answer. Click the image below to be taken to the weblink. (*iPad users: You must download and use the Puffin web browser to run these simulations)

Who Wants to Live a Million Years


Choose variations in a population to try to survive for a million years. Watch out for environmental changes and mutations!

Evolution Simulation


Watch how small changes in populations can have big impacts. You can also change settings to see how these animals would fair when their food source behaves differently.

Theories of Evolution

That’s what we’ve been talking about the last few days. We’ve talked about theories and evidence that supports or refutes those theories. There have been lots of theories of evolution but we’ve focused on two…

  1. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

    • Acquired Characteristics
    • Whatever traits or habits that you picked up over your life, you passed on to your children.
    • Believed that if you really “needed” something or some habit to survive you could acquire it.

  1. Charles Darwin

    • Descent with Modification – Present living beings are modified decendents of older organisms and species.
    • Modification by Natural Selection – Environment limits the growth of populations. Some Organisms have traits that make them better able to survive in their environment

Evidence suggests that Drawin’s theory, which he illustrated in his book “On the Origin of Species”, is accurate. Can you think of any instances of organisms that look like other species but have some type of special advantages to help them survive in their environment?

To review, click through the Darwin information pages and see if you can help a species of furry creatures live for a million years!

Common Assessment #3

As a reminder, here is the information included in the 35 (for honors, 30 for academic) question assessment:

  • Unit 7 – Reproduction
    • Types of Reproduction
    • The Cell Cycle, Stem Cells, & Cancer
    • Mitosis
    • Meiosis
    • Karyotyping & Genetic Disorders
  • Unit 8 – Genetics
    • Mendel (& his laws)
    • Advanced Genetics 
      • Codominance, Incomplete Dominance, Multiple Alleles, Sex-Linked
    • Pedigrees
    • Dihybrd Crosses

The Link below will take you to the answer sheet. Answer all questions on the answer sheet, do not write on the test. When you finish, there is an option to go back and review your work. Do not ever press the back button on the browser, you will have to start all over. Good Luck & Happy Valentines Day/Ash Wednesday!

Link  – Common Assessment #3

Happy Valentines Day! Let’s Bee Friends… get it! haha