Friday, May 28, 2010

Busy Yesterday ... Sharks and Solar Houses

This week has been such a whirlwind here at school.

We are in that last, nebulous time before finals. Everyone is feeling the pull of summer, ... of liberation.

I guess the kids are feeling it ... I can only speak for the teachers.

The county, in it's infinite wisdom, pulled a ton of teachers out for a week of training. This overwhelmed our tiny supply of subs, so I haven't had a planning period all week. Instead, I am covering other teacher's classes.

In addition, I have been incredibly busy in my own classes, trying to pack their brains with new experiences and a wee bit of knowledge before time runs out.

To that end, we spent Monday and Tuesday in Shark Lab.

Every year, we sacrifice about a dozen dogfish shark in the pursuit of knowledge.

Since you may ask, Dogfish are not an overfished resource, in fact, their populations are increasing.

Dogfish are fished commercially for human food, cat food, and a host of other products. Some go to biological supply houses for dissection labs.

Some of those go to me.

I teach shark conservation in my classes and release them when I catch them out in the Gulf of Petroleum, so my angst over using a baker's dozen this year to educate 70 kids about fish anatomy (and their own) is minimal.

That's where I am on the subject.

See those claspers? The two projections on the inside of the shark pelvic fins tell you this is a male.

They are used in mating.
Sharks mate ... none of that silly, impersonal spawning stuff.

The snout of a shark is loaded with electroperceptive organs called Ampullae of Lorenzini. They are sensitive to the bioelectric field generated by the nervous system of animals, so the shark could sense that shrimp, even if it could not see it.

The shrimp in the forceps came from this shark's stomach.

More wrinkles = more surface area, and more room for absorption of nutrients.
Your stomach is similar inside and THAT sort of thing is where this study of a shark is not just a fish lesson.

It's about us too.

Shark brain exposed.
Here things are different. Sharks do not have wrinkled brains and are therefore, not deep thinkers.

Shark gills.
The skin and gill slits have been removed.

We do external shark anatomy on day one, and internal on day two, so it's a really busy pair of days.
Very rewarding though.

It's also another milestone signalling the end of the year.
It's okay for me to put away the lab gear now.

Soon, it will be time to release our aquarium fish back into the Gulf, ... although this year they are probably better off in an aquarium.

There's no oil there.

Meanwhile, in the two Environmental Science classes that are filled with struggling readers, we have been building solar house models.

After some book learning about alternative energy sources, I showed them my solar cell kit full of electrical goodies and told them to build a house with a light and a ceiling fan that runs off of solar energy.

And they did.

Not that you can tell from that still picture, but the fan is spinning and the light is on.
Trust me.

After this project, A 9th grade kid who reads at an elementary level, told me, " I have driven past this building on So and So road a hundred times and never realized what those big things were, the ones mounted out on the lawn. The other day I suddenly realized those were solar panels and I knew what they were for."


Tonight is the Academic Fair.
It's a chance for all subject areas to show off their finer projects from through out the year. The cafeteria will be full of neat projects ... and HOPEFULLY, some interested parents.

This weekend I will be revising some final exams ... yawn.

It's okay.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.


The Florida Blogger said...

Gulf of Petroleum. Ha! Funny as your renaming sounds, I hope it is not that way for long.

cndymkr / jean said...

I am thrilled beyond belief that you work so hard on behalf of these kids. Thank you for all that you do for them.

Ericka said...

scientists finally invented a car that runs on water.

right now, it only runs on water from the gulf of mexico.

anywho, we did cats. i was traumatized, yet fascinated.

Lynn said...

Maybe you can take a road trip to the ocean and release them there? I'm heading to the beach this wknd while I still have a beach to go to. and I plan on using your Gulf of Petroleum in conversation!

LaDivaCucina said...

Hi PF! Been lurking around your blog the last few days and have to say taht this one threw me off! (the photos!) Yet, I can cut up a chicken or meat, no sweat. What you do is cool and altruistic.

I posted a comment about bear's mac and cheese adventure but it didn't save. Boo!

The new culinary theme has been announced on my blog! If you want to partake, check it out, the deadline is June 16! have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Sayre said...

I wish my son would go to your school - you guys teach the coolest things!

Floridacracker said...

Me too.

Thanks. I am currently ready to let them go for a while though. LOL!

LOL! sob.
I did cats with my students just once. It was too weird for some of them.

Use away! I hope your beach day was excellent.

I saw that Culinary Challenge at your site. I've been thinking of possibilities!

Between the budget crunch and the testing focus, I wonder how long we can do the cool stuff.

Miz S said...

God, it kills me dead when I hear about 9th graders who are reading so far below grade level. I'm glad they have a cool science teacher, though.

Your end of year sounds super busy. Can't believe you have to cover other classes...

Toño Maño said...

Hi, searching for images of shark gills in google images I've just come across this post.
I have an educative blog (absolutely non profit) about sharks in NW Spain (in Spanish), and I wonder if I could use the image of that dogfish gills to illustrate my last post. Of course, mentioning author.