Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Biology Quest Exhibition

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Is it possible for a group of high school aged Launchpad Eagles to devour the subject of Biology and design a successful Quest for Middle school Eagles?  Frankly, we didn’t know the answer – until now.

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On Thursday, parents and friends gathered for the Biology Quest Exhibition, a celebration of all that Middle School Eagles had learned over the past six weeks about Cells, Plants, Animals, Humans and the Biosphere.

During the quest teams competed and collaborated to craft Nobel Prize Winning Speeches in the shoes of their favorite Biology Hero, to master deep Biology Bee questions and to  create experiments and displays in a team’s area of focus.

Was the exhibition a success?

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After listening to twelve of the Nobel Prize Winning Speeches, a visiting PhD remarked  he was impressed at how well the Eagles had memorized the work of Nobel Laurette’s.  He was surprised to learn that the Eagles had written all the speeches from scratch.

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The Biology Bee was a high pressure affair, with Eagles handling questions like: “What is life?;”  “What is the difference between meiosis and mitosis?;” and “Which biology specialty would best fit your calling?”‘

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Visitors also were  impressed by the hard work and artistic effort that went into the exhibits, experiments and displays.

In the end, the Launchpad Eagles received a cheer and a round of applause for launching the first student designed Quest at Acton Academy.

Next session our Eagles take on the role of Doctor Gregory House from the famous television series, as they prepare to learn about the human body and how to diagnosis diseases.


Extracting DNA

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Week Five of the Biology Quest has been focused on Humans, specifically human evolution and DNA.

The goal of Friday’s exhibition was the extraction of DNA —  far from a simple experiment.

Eagles were given a choice of:

  • Three different organic materials: meat, strawberries and green peas;
  • Three different detergents to separate lipids and proteins from DNA; and
  • Several choices of experimental equipment and pic 2 bio pic 3 bio pic 4 bio pic 5 bio pic 6

Eagles had to decide which combination of material, detergent and process yielded the best samples of DNA.  This required self organizing within and between teams to make sure all the variations were covered, ensuring results would be comparable in the end, and even to debating and defining what “best” DNA sample meant.

Just like at Bell Labs and the NIH, there were squabbles between scientists; competing egos and agendas; and interpersonal conflicts that had to be resolved before science could be advanced.

Not just another textbook experiment, but lessons about how science works (and doesn’t work) in the real world.