150 – Phylogeny and Modeling Carrying Capacity

Today was challenging since our system is having daily internet issues. Rarely do I put all of my eggs in one basket and have online labs for the main course, but I did today and barely made it work.

In honors biology the kids had a short lecture (15 min – I set my watch) on population growth. Then we went to the computer lab to use one of the Pearson Biologylabsonline modeling applets to model changes in a bird population. Kids got to adjust population, food amount, clutch size and other variables. The graphs are wonderful and the model is well received. Day 2 tomorrow.

In AP biology we started our protein BLAST lab where we look at the amino acid sequences of organisms and use the universal protein database (www.uniprot.org) to search for common molecular homologies. The kids do an guided inquiry first, choosing one relationship to examine and then later will do an open inquiry forming their own question and claim. We had some trouble with the phylogeny mapping software but it seems to be working now. I was interested in the evolutionary history of flightless birds and whipped up this gem comparing the Hemiglobin subunit alpha protein.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 6.48.03 PM

I was a bit surprised by the results since I thought the African and Australian birds would be closer in relatedness. It leads to a great discussion on biogeorgraphy and common ancestry.

Let’s hope tomorrow is internet highway and not internet parking lot.

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